The Strange Music

Other loves may sink and settle, other loves may loose and slack, 
But I wander like a minstrel with a harp upon my back, 
Though the harp be on my bosom, though I finger and I fret, 
Still, my hope is all before me; for I cannot play it yet. 

In your strings is hid a music that no hand hath e’er let fall, 
In your soul is sealed a pleasure that you have not known at all; 
Pleasure subtle as your spirit, strange and slender as your frame, 
Fiercer than the pain that folds you, softer than your sorrow’s name. 

Not as mine, my soul’s annointed, not as mine the rude and light 
Easy mirth of many faces, swaggering pride of song and fight; 
Something stranger, something sweeter, something waiting you afar, 
Secret as your stricken senses, magic as your sorrows are. 

But on this, God’s harp supernal, stretched but to be stricken once, 
Hoary time is a beginner, Life a bungler, Death a dunce. 
But I will not fear to match them – no by God, I will not fear, 
I will learn you, I will play you and the stars stand still to hear.

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True Education is Truest Kindness

“Those who love certain animals selfishly, pampering them, as so many mothers do their children with worse results, that they may be loved of them in return, betray them to their enemies. They are not lovers of animals, but only of favourites, and do their part to make the rest of the world dislike animals. Theirs are the dogs that inhospitably growl and bark and snap, moving the indifferent to dislike, and confirming the unfriendly in their antagonism. Any dog-parliament, met in the interests of their kind, would condemn such dogs to be discreetly bitten, and their mistresses to be avoided.

And certainly, if animals are intended to live and grow, she is the enemy of any individual animal, who stunts his moral and intellectual development by unwise indulgence.

Of whatever nature be the heaven of the animals, that animal is not in the fair way to enter it. The education of the lower lies at the door of the higher, and in true education is truest kindness.”

– George MacDonald, Hope of the Gospel

Surprised by Joy

Surprised by joy—impatient as the Wind 

I turned to share the transport—Oh! with whom 

But Thee, long buried in the silent Tomb, 

That spot which no vicissitude can find? 

Love, faithful love, recalled thee to my mind— 

But how could I forget thee?—Through what power, 

Even for the least division of an hour, 

Have I been so beguiled as to be blind 

To my most grievous loss!—That thought’s return 

Was the worst pang that sorrow ever bore, 

Save one, one only, when I stood forlorn, 

Knowing my heart’s best treasure was no more; 

That neither present time, nor years unborn 

Could to my sight that heavenly face restore. 

– By William Wordsworth

REASON

Set on the soul’s acropolis the reason stands

A virgin, arm’d, commercing with celestial light,

And he who sins against her has defiled his own

Virginity: no cleansing makes his garment white;

So clear is reason. But how dark imagining,

Warm, dark, obscure and infinite, daughter of Night:

Dark is her brow, the beauty of her eyes with sleep

Is loaded, and her pains are long, and her delight.

Tempt not Athene. Wound not in her fertile pains

Demeter, nor rebel against her mother-right.

Oh who will reconcile in me both maid and mother,

Who make in me a concord of the depth and height?

Who make imagination’s dim exploring touch

Ever report the same as intellectual sight?

Then could I truly say and not deceive,

Then wholly say, that I BELIEVE.

– C.S. Lewis

Hymn to God, My God, in My Sickness, John Donne

Since I am coming to that holy room,

         Where, with thy choir of saints for evermore,

I shall be made thy music; as I come

         I tune the instrument here at the door,

         And what I must do then, think here before. 

Whilst my physicians by their love are grown

         Cosmographers, and I their map, who lie

Flat on this bed, that by them may be shown

         That this is my south-west discovery, 

      Per fretum febris, by these straits to die, 

I joy, that in these straits I see my west;

         For, though their currents yield return to none,

What shall my west hurt me? As west and east

         In all flat maps (and I am one) are one,

         So death doth touch the resurrection.

Is the Pacific Sea my home? Or are

         The eastern riches? Is Jerusalem?

Anyan, and Magellan, and Gibraltar,

         All straits, and none but straits, are ways to them,

         Whether where Japhet dwelt, or Cham, or Shem. 

We think that Paradise and Calvary, 

         Christ’s cross, and Adam’s tree, stood in one place; 

Look, Lord, and find both Adams met in me; 

         As the first Adam’s sweat surrounds my face, 

         May the last Adam’s blood my soul embrace. 

So, in his purple wrapp’d, receive me, Lord; 

         By these his thorns, give me his other crown; 

And as to others’ souls I preach’d thy word, 

         Be this my text, my sermon to mine own: 

“Therefore that he may raise, the Lord throws down.”

John Donne

Broken Down Poetry

“I went home very quietly, as I say, thinking about the strange elements that not only combine to make life, but must be combined in our idea of life, before we can form a true theory about it. Now-a-days, the vulgar notion of what is life-like in any annals is to be realised by sternly excluding everything but the commonplace; and the means, at least, are often attained, with this much of the end as well—that the appearance life bears to vulgar minds is represented with a wonderful degree of success. But I believe that this is, at least, quite as unreal a mode of representing life as the other extreme, wherein the unlikely, the romantic, and the uncommon predominate. I doubt whether there is a single history—if one could only get at the whole of it—in which there is not a considerable admixture of the unlikely become fact, including a few strange coincidences; of the uncommon, which, although striking at first, has grown common from familiarity with its presence as our own; with even, at least, some one more or less rosy touch of what we call the romantic.

My own conviction is, that the poetry is far the deepest in us, and that the prose is only broken-down poetry;

and likewise that to this our lives correspond. The poetic region is the true one, and just, THEREFORE, the incredible one to the lower order of mind; for although every mind is capable of the truth, or rather capable of becoming capable of the truth, there may lie ages between its capacity and the truth. As you will hear some people read poetry so that no mortal could tell it was poetry, so do some people read their own lives and those of others.”

Excerpt From

Annals of a Quiet Neighbourhood

George MacDonald

https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/annals-of-a-quiet-neighbourhood/id501016131?mt=11

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The Undertaking

I have done one braver thing
Than all the Worthies did,
And yet a braver thence doth spring,
Which is, to keep that hid.

It were but madness now t’impart
The skill of specular stone,
When he which can have learn’d the art
To cut it, can find none.

So, if I now should utter this,
Others (because no more
Such stuff to work upon, there is,)
Would love but as before.

But he who loveliness within
Hath found, all outward loathes,
For he who colour loves, and skin,
Loves but their oldest clothes.

If, as I have, you also do
Virtue attir’d in woman see,
And dare love that, and say so too,
And forget the He and She;

And if this love, though placed so,
From profane men you hide,
Which will no faith on this bestow,
Or, if they do, deride:

Then you have done a braver thing
Than all the Worthies did;
And a braver thence will spring,
Which is, to keep that hid.

 

-John Donne