The Holy Sonnets by John Donne (1633)

Spiritual truth is difficult for the rational mind to grasp.  The Bible says the Holy Spirit will guide us to all truth and indeed, absent God’s intrusion our modern minds gravitate to only that which is reasonable – and reason is a hobbled teacher.  We understand this most directly in matters of love, for as Pascal […]

Easter by George Herbert

    Rise heart; thy Lord is risen. Sing his praise     Without delays,     Who takes thee by the hand, that thou likewise     With him mayst rise.     That, as his death calcined1 thee to dust,     His life may make thee gold, and much more just.         Awake, my lute, and struggle […]

Maundy Thursday by Malcolm Guite

Here is the source of every sacrament, The all-transforming presence of the Lord, Replenishing our every element, Remaking us in his creative Word. For here the earth herself gives bread and wine, The air delights to bear his Spirit’s speech, The fire dances where the candles shine, The waters cleanse us with his gentle touch. […]

The Anointing At Bethany by Malcom Guite

Come close with Mary, Martha, Lazarus, So close the candles flare with their soft breath, And kindle heart and soul to flame within us Lit by these mysteries of life and death. For beauty now begins the final movement, In quietness and intimate encounter, The alabaster jar of precious ointment Is broken open for the […]

Cleansing The Temple by Malcolm Guite

Come to your Temple here with liberation And overturn these tables of exchange, Restore in me my lost imagination, Begin in me for good the pure change. Come as you came, an infant with your mother, That innocence may cleanse and claim this ground. Come as you came, a boy who sought his father With […]

Palm Sunday by Malcolm Guite

Now to the gate of my Jerusalem, The seething holy city of my heart, The Saviour comes. But will I welcome him? Oh crowds of easy feelings make a start; They raise their hands, get caught up in the singing, And think the battle won. Too soon they’ll find The challenge, the reversal he is […]

Love’s As Warm As Tears by C. S. Lewis

Love’s as warm as tears, Love is tears: Pressure within the brain, Tension at the throat, Deluge, weeks of rain, Haystacks afloat, Featureless seas between Hedges, where once was green. Love’s as fierce as fire, Love is fire: All sorts ‒ Infernal heat  
 Clinkered with greed and pride,  
 Lyric desire, sharp-sweet,  
 Laughing, […]

God’s Grandeur by G. M. Hopkins

 The world is charged with the grandeur of God. It will flame out, like shining from shook foil; It gathers to a greatness, like the ooze of oil Crushed. Why do men then now not reck his rod? Generations have trod, have trod, have trod; And all is seared with trade; bleared, smeared with toil; […]

Gethsemane by Rowan Williams

Who said that trees grow easily compared with us? What if the bright bare load that pushes down on them insisted that they spread and bowed and pleated back on themselves and cracked and hunched? Light dropping like a palm levelling the ground, backwards and forwards? Across the valley are the other witnesses of two […]

The Agony by George Herbert

Philosophers have measur’d mountains, Fathom’d the depths of seas, of states and kings; Walk’d with a staff to heav’n and traced fountains: But there are two vast, spacious thins, The which to measure it doth more behove; Yet few there are that sound them, ‒ Sin and Love. Who would know Sin, let him repair […]

Golgotha by John Heath-Stubbs

In the middle of the world, in the centre Of the polluted heart of man, a midden; A stake stemmed in the rubbish From lipless jaws, Adam’s skull Gasped up through the garbage: ‘I lie in the discarded dross of history, Ground down again to the red dust, The obliterated image. Create me.’ From lips […]

The Incarnate One by Edwin Muir

The windless northern surge, the sea-gull’s scream, And Calvin’s kirk crowning the barren brae. I think of Giotto the Tuscan shepherd’s dream, Christ, man and creature in their inner day. How could our race betray The Image, and the Incarnate One unmake Who chose this form and fashion for our sake? The Word made flesh […]

Strong Son of God, Immortal Love by Alfred Tennyson

Strong Son of God, immortal Love, Whom we, that have not seen thy face, By faith, and faith alone, embrace, Believing where we cannot prove; … Our little systems have their day; They have their day and cease to be: They are but broken lights of thee, And thou, O Lord, art more than they. […]

Faith In Honest Doubt by Alfred Tennyson

You tell me, doubt is Devil-born. I know not: one indeed I knew In many a subtle question versed, Who touch’d a jarring lyre at first, But ever strove to make it true: Perplext in faith, but pure in deeds, At last he beat his music out. There lives more faith in honest doubt, Believe […]

Death As Birth by John Davies

The first life, in the mother’s womb is spent, Where she her nursing power doth only use; Where, when she finds defect of nourishment, She expels her body, and this world she views. This we call Birth; but if the child could speak, He Death would call it; and of Nature plain, That she would […]

The Light Which Makes The Light Which Makes The Day by John Davies

That Power which gave me eyes the World to view, To see my self infused an inward light, Whereby my soul, as by a mirror true, Of her own form may take a perfect sight, But as the sharpest eye discerneth nought, Except the sun-beams in the air doe shine: So the best soul with […]

What It Is To Be Human by John Davies

She within lists my ranging mind hath brought, That now beyond my self I list not go; My self am centre of my circling thought, Only my self I study, learn, and know. I know my body’s of so frail a kind, As force without, fevers within can kill: I know the heavenly nature of […]

Why Did My Parents Send Me To The Schools? by John Davies

Why did my parents send me to the Schools, That I with knowledge might enrich my mind? Since the desire to know first made men fools, And did corrupt the root of all mankind: Even so by tasting of that fruit forbid, Where they sought knowledge, they did error find; Ill they desir’d to know, […]

Mothering Sunday by Malcolm Guite

At last, in spite of all, a recognition, For those who loved and laboured for so long, Who brought us, through that labour, to fruition To flourish in the place where we belong. A thanks to those who stayed and did the raising, Who buckled down and did the work of two, Whom governments have […]

Dancing Through The Fire by Malcolm Guite

Then stir my love in idleness to flame To find at last the free refining fire That guards the hidden garden whence I came. O do not kill, but quicken my desire, Better to spur me on than leave me cold. Not maimed I come to you, I come entire, Lit by the loves that […]

The Refining Fire by Dante

Over my suppliant hands entwined, I leaned just staring at the fire, imagining bodies of human beings and seen burn. And both my trusted guides now turned to me. And the Virgil spoke, to say: ‘My dearest son, here may be agony but never death. Remember this! Remember! And if I led you to safety […]

De Magistro by Malcolm Guite

I thank my God I have emerged at last, Blinking from Hell, to see these quiet stars, Bewildered by the shadows that I cast. You set me on this stair, in those rich hours Pacing your study, chanting poetry. The Word in you revealed his quickening powers, Removed the daily veil, and let me see, […]

Through The Gate by Malcolm Guite

Begin the song exactly where you are, For where you are contains where you have been And holds the vision of your final sphere. And do not fear the memory of sin; There is a light that heals, and, where it falls, Transfigures and redeems the darkest stain Into translucent colour. Loose the veils And […]

Meeting Virgil: ‘There Is Another Road’ by Dante

As I went, ruined, rushing to that low, there had, before my eyes, been offered one who seemed -long silent- to be faint and dry. Seeing him near in that great wilderness, to him I screamed my ‘miserere’: ‘Save me, whatever – shadow or truly man – you be.’ His answer came to me: ‘No […]

Late Ripeness by Czeslaw Milosz

Not soon, as late as the approach of my ninetieth year I felt a door opening in me and I entered the clarity of early morning. One after another my former lives were departing, like ships, together with their sorrow. And the countries, cities, gardens, the bays of seas assigned to my brush came closer, […]

The Pains Of Sleep by S.T. Coleridge

Ere on my bed my limbs I lay, It hath not been my use to pray With moving lips or bended knees; But silently, by slow degrees, My spirit I to Love compose, In humble trust mine eye-lids close, With reverential resignation No wish conceived, no thought exprest, Only a sense of supplication; A sense […]

How I Talk To God by Kelly Belmonte

Coffee in one hand leaning in to share, listen: How I talk to God. “Momma, you’re special.” Three-year-old touches my cheek. How God talks to me. While driving I make lists: done, do, hope, love, hate, try. How I talk to God. Above the highway hawk: high, alone, free, focused. How God talks to me. […]

The Pilgrimage by George Herbert

I travell’d on, seeing the hill, where lay My expectation. A long it was and weary way. The gloomy cave of Desperation I left on th’ one, and on the other side The rock of Pride. And so I came to fancy’s meadow strow’d With many a flower: Fain would I here have made abode, […]

Station Island XI by Seamus Heaney/ St John of the Cross

As if the prisms of the kaleidoscope I plunged once in a butt of muddied water Surfaced like a marvellous lightship And out of its silted crystals a monk’s face That had spoken years ago from behind a grille Spoke again about the need and chance To salvage everything, to re-envisage The zenith and glimpsed […]