Discalced Carmelite Friars

Province of St. Therese

Poet and Contemplative

“From the abundance of his spirit [the poet] pours out secrets and mysteries rather than rational explanation” (Prologue, The Spiritual Canticle).

“In contemplation God teaches the soul very quietly and secretly, without its knowing how, without the sound of words” (Chapter 39, The Spiritual Canticle).

In the spirit of St. John of the Cross, this blog reflects on the contemplative experience and the poetic experience, sometimes separately and distinctly, sometimes in common, as mutually enlightening.

I will also post to this blog, from time to time, my own poetry, with a short interpretive note attached.

~ Fr. Bonaventure Sauer, OCD

Two Paschal Poems

        Last year for Holy Week I posted four poems intended to mark the spirit of the Paschal Mystery, of the Easter Triduum.  I wrote those poems some time ago—in fact, quite some time ago—although I'm not sure why that matters.  The following two poems I also wrote some time ago, and they, too, are intended for these special holy days of the Ester Triduum.
        Like the poems I posted last year at this time, these poems are experiments of a sort, trying to capture two moments of the Paschal Mystery—night, sorrow, confusion, loss, on the one hand, and morning, new light, surprise, joy, hope, on the other—not so much through direct statement, but through images, metaphors, symbols.  Thus, the poems are not always easy to follow and may be befuddling to some.  Sorry.

        Reading poetry that seeks to conjure up a mood, an atmosphere obliquely—not unlike modern expressionist or even abstract painting—may not be to everyone's taste, by a long shot.  But if you read these two poems slowly, letting the emotional feel of the images speak to you, I think you will find that, in their own way, they touch on some of the shades and stages and spiritual twists and turns of these holy days of Easter.

        Under Cover of Night
        Holy Thursday

        (1)        My voice like six magpies,
                     yet you have loved me, you have.

        (2)        Night spreads its dark coat of fur, claws extended,
                     while I gaze up lovingly

                     into its enduring soul.  There I see
                     stars perched in treetops like glassy sparrows.

        (3)        I am neither more nor less than you, wide night,
                     earth's sad shadow, brother.

        (4)        “Tomorrow noon will shatter us, but tonight
                     this sky shelters us.”  Under its wings

                     olive trees blossom; its vast might
                     upholds the stricken sorrow of this Hour.


        On the Third Day
        Easter Sunday

        Quiet does battle with noisy dawn; the sun's silver sword thrashes,
        Brightly glinting; its glancing blade whispers:  Oh,
        How near is creation's far-off song.  If we touch dark death, 
        Surprise enters our faces.

                     Morning's white robe takes form,
                     like a forest of mirrored air.

                                                        —And then, as we say in prayer,
        With these hands you gave me I release my grasp, my grip, I let go.
        Perhaps if I could stand out among those whom sudden sunlight
        Discloses as having nowhere else to go, nowhere but here, happily,

                     Then all around me the streets would
                     Stream with the movement of angels.

Written by Fr. Bonaventure Sauer, OCD
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