Friday, October 21, 2016

The Wedding at Cana

This is a poem I wrote a few years ago, and I posted on the blog. Then I took it down because I thought it was worth sending to a magazine, which I did (and magazines usually ask that poems have not been previously published). I sent it to Spirituality magazine.

I never heard back from the magazine, so I assumed it was never published. Yesterday, I discovered by accident that it was.

So here it is again. I think it's not bad, apart from some very dodgy metre in a couple of places.

The Wedding at Cana

The mother of God spoke to her son
As the laughter and singing began to die
(Though the feast had hardly just begun)
And the guests began to sigh.
“These people are waiting for something more”
She whispered to him. “These people pine
To drink as they’ve never drunk before—
They have no wine.”

“Oh woman”, the Son of Man replied,
“What is that to me? It is not my hour.”
But his mother still stood there by his side
And spoke a little lower.
“The singing and dancing have almost ceased
And the bride is shame-faced. Oh, son of mine,
The guests have come to the wedding feast
And have no wine.”

And, looking down on his princely face,
She remembered what Simeon prophesied
As he held the child in the holy place:
A sword shall pierce your side.
“Oh blood of my blood” the Virgin said,
“The drink they thirst for is yours and mine.
They came to see a bridegroom wed
And they have no wine.”

If I am to serve God with my pen (or keyboard) at all, perhaps it is through verse rather than prose-- hymns, poems, and so forth. Poetry and verse of all sorts is a highly speculative venture. The world is not very welcoming to poetry, and even those of us who love poetry usually have to make more of an effort to read it than to read prose-- even with the best poetry.

But, if you do write a verse that moves people, it tends to mean more to them than any amount of prose does, and to survive in their hearts for much longer. From my early teens I have felt that writing a verse which the world (or some part of the world) took to its heart-- the words of a popular hymn, for instance-- would be one of the greatest achievements imaginable.

I have been very disillusioned with writing lately, as much through my successes (such as they have been) as my failures. As well, I have been feeling that faithful Catholics need more poetry and less prose in their lives-- although, by 'poetry', I mean devotion, prayer, liturgy, sacramentals, holy pictures, Eucharistic Adoration, lectio divina, Scripture, and, of the course, the Sacraments themselves. (The Sacraments are the most real things in life, and I am by no means suggesting otherwise when I use the term 'poetry'.)

T.S. Eliot's famous line, "distracted from distraction by distraction" is one that describes me all too well. I think it describes many of us today, perhaps even most of us. I think we have a cultural case of Attention Deficit Disorder, and I struggle with it as much as anybody. I struggle to keep my my mind focused at Mass, on my Rosary, and...well, all the time, pretty much. In recent times I have been trying to tether myself more, and (to use the traditional Christian term) to be more 'recollected'-- especially through what St. Josemaria Escriva called 'the blessed monotony of the Rosary'.

I write these words with caution, because we do also need prose-- very much so. We need catechesis and evangelisation and homilies and sound teaching of every kind. But I do fear the tendency (not least in my own case) of prose to degenerate into chatter. Irish Catholicism is certainly not going to expire for lack of conferences, workshops and seminars. (I was about to add, self-mockingly, "not to mention blogs". But there are actually very few Irish Catholic blogs!)

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