Kiss me, I'm Catholic.

Thursday, December 30, 2004

Tsunami Help Blog

Go here.

Requiem aeterna dona eis.

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Blogging from Santa Fe

I'm at my grandparents' house in Santa Fe now... the snow is falling, the farolitos (what we call lumenarias in California) are lit - or plugged in, as the case may be - and I have finally wrested the computer from my "little" brother, who is a foot taller than me.

Now, what shall I write with my dearly-won computer time?

Have I posted an Advent poem yet? No? And I even had the O Antiphons all lined up and ready to go! But I was too jet-lagged to write them up.

I recently rediscovered the lines that started off Tolkien on the creation of his secondary world, before he had even written "In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit" on the back of that fabled exam paper. They are from Cynewulf's "Advent Lyrics," and begin "Eala Earendael." He wrote of reading those words, "I felt a curious thrill, as if something had stirred in me, half awakened from sleep. There was something very remote and strange and beautiful behind those words, if I could grasp it, far beyond ancient English." Tolkien identified "Earendael" with John the Baptist, but thought it must have originally referred to the Morning Star. Of course the name ends up becoming elvish, and is given to Elrond's father who pleads for Middle-Earth before the Valar...

Eala Earendael,
engla beorhtast
ofer middangeard
monnum sended
ond sothfaesta
sunnan leoma,
torht ofer tunglas,
thu tida gehwane
of selfum the
symle inlihtes.

Which is the beginning of this:

O Dayspring, brightest of angels sent to men upon middle-earth, and the sun's righteous radiance, of a brilliance exceeding the stars; Thou by Thine Own Self continually illumine every hour. If Thou, God long since begotten of God, Son of the truth Father, ever existed without beginning in the glory of heaven, then with confidence Thine Own creation prays to Thee now on account of its needs, that Thou send us that bright sun, and Thy Self come so that Thou mayest illumine those who, shrouded in murk and in darkness, have already long continued here in endless night; enveloped in sins they have had to endure the dark shadow of death. Full of hope now, we trust to the salvation brought to the multitudes through the Word of God which in the beginning was with the almighty Father, coeternal with God, and has now subsequently become flesh devoid of transgressions which the Virgin bore as a support to those in sorrow. God was with us, seen to be without sins; together they dwelt united, mighty Child of the Lord and Son of man, among men. We may address our thanks continually to the triumphant Lord according to His deeds, because He willed to send us Himself.

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Silent Night, Holy Night...

Today is the feast of San Juan de la Cruz, so I thought I 'd give you one of his poems, in Roy Campbell's translation. I like the way Campbell englished it; he preserves all the rhymes and most of the meter of the original, while at the same time keeping the sense and making it all sound easy. It's as close to transparent as you can get. Of course he had to add some words that weren't in the original, because Spanish words tend to have more syllables than English, and a perfectly literal translation of a Spanish poem tends to boil down the line into a curt, attenuated utterance reminiscent of William Carlos Williams. Most undesirable. But Campbell is a poet himself, and he really reincarnates the poem in English.

And to think that he did this for ninety pages!

I am green with envy. Verde que te quiero verde.

Which reminds me: Campbell's style fits St. John's much better than it does Lorca's. I love reading his translations of Garcia Lorca; they are vibrant and fast-moving; but Lorca just didn't write like that. He relied more on assonance than on rhyme, and Campbell just barges in and translates everything into rhyming couplets. (Oooh! Check it out: Complete Works of Federico García Lorca. If you can read Spanish, it's a really cool page.)

Romance IX

The Birth of Christ

Now that the season was approaching
Of His long-expected birth,
Like a bridegroom from his chamber
He emerged upon our earth

Clinging close to His beloved
Whom He brought along with Him.
While the gracious Mary placed them
In a manger damp and dim.

Amongst the animals that round it
At that season stretched their limbs,
Men were singing songs of gladness
And the angels chanting hymns,

To celebrate the wondrous marriage
By whose bond such two were tied,
But the wee God in the manger
He alone made moan and cried;

Tears were the jewels of the dowry
Which the bride with her had brought.
And the Mother gazed upon them
Nearly fainting at the thought.

The tears of Man in God alone,
The joy of God in men was seen.
Two things so alien to each other,
Or to the rule, had never been.

Today is your lucky day! Here is another.

Other songs concerning Christ and the soul

A shepherd lad was mourning his distress,
Far from all comfort, friendless and forlorn.
He fixed his thought upon his shepherdess
Because his breast by love was sorely torn.

He did not weep that love had pierced him so,
Nor with self-pity that the shaft was shot,
Though deep into his heart had sunk the blow,
It grieved him more that he had been forgot.

Only to think that he had been forgotten
By his sweet shepherdess, with travail sore,
He let his foes (in foreign lands begotten)
Gash the poor breast that love had gashed before.

'Alas! Alas! for him', the Shepherd cries,
'Who tries from me my dearest love to part
So that she does not gaze into my eyes
Or see that I am wounded to the heart.'

Then, after a long time, a tree he scaled,
Opened his strong arms bravely wide apart,
And clung upon that tree till death prevailed,
So sorely was he wounded in his heart.

Saturday, December 11, 2004

P.C. Lord of the Rings

From halfway down this post on Christianity and Middle Earth: an outrageous but really really funny re-write of the Shelob scene.

Frodo and Sam may NOT call on a higher power; I don’t care how many bogeymen are after them. (We’re keeping anything that smacks of prayer out of this, remember? Unless, of course, it’s just an attempt to use “magic.”) None of this Valinor/Varda business and beloved stars and the light of Earendil and all that – far too High-Church-like and we all know what Tolkien was. (Shhh! There may be innocent young ears about!) It might give readers the idea that there are things that are ‘holy,’ whatever that means, and it will definitely upset the All-Cultures-Are-Equal crusaders…um, I mean, activists.

Aiya Earendil Ancalima!

Litany of Saint John the Apostle

Today I got a copy of the litany used at the library dedication. It was composed for the occasion, but I don't know who wrote it. It's pretty cool, anyway - I especially like "Exile of Patmos," "Angel of Ephesus," and "Seer of the heavenly Jerusalem."

V. Lord have mercy on us.
R. Christ have mercy on us.
V. Lord have mercy on us,
Christ hear us.
R. Christ graciously hear us.

V. God, the Father of Heaven, R. Have mercy on us.
God, the Son, Redeemer of the world,
God, the Holy Spirit,
Holy Trinity, One God,

V. Beloved Disciple of the Lord, R. Pray for us.
Apostle of Christ,
Evangelist who bore witness to the Word of God,
Evangelist who bore witness to the testimony of Jesus,
Evangelist of the Word made Flesh,
Beloved Disciple who reclined on the Heart of the Lord,
Defender of Virgins,
Defender of chastity,
Teacher of charity,
Disciple who saw,
Disciple who heard,
Disciple who touched the Word of Life,
Evangelist of the Heart of Christ,
Son of Zebedee,
Brother of James,
Son of Thunder,
Follower of the Baptist,
Disciple who bore witness,
Disciple who drank of the heavenly streams,
Disciple at the foot of the Cross,
Beloved to whom was entrusted the Virgin Mother,
Entrusted son of Mary,
Disciple who ran to the tomb,
Herald of the Resurrection,
Disciple who cried out "It is the Lord!"
Destroyer of Heresy,
Defender of the Lord's Divinity,
Defender of the Holy Eucharist,
Companion of Peter,
Pillar of the Church,
Witness cast into a cauldron of boiling oil,
Exile of Patmos,
Prophet of the New Creation,
Bishop and herald at Knock,
Our Brother in Christ,
Partner in tribulation,
Partner in the Kingdom,
Partner in patience,
Lover of Sunday,
Presbyter to the elect,
Prophet to the seven churches,
Angel of the Apocalypse,
Angel of Ephesus,
Father to Timothy,
Defender of the aged,
Mirror of chastity,
Teacher of heavenly charity,
Mystical visionary,
Seer of the heavenly Jerusalem,

V. Lamb of God who takest away the sins of the world,
R. Spare us, O Lord.
V. Lamb of God who takest away the sins of the world,
R. Graciously hear us, O Lord.
V. Lamb of God who takest away the sins of the world,
R. Have mercy on us.

V. LET US PRAY - Lord, in Your goodness enlighten Your Church in the light of the teaching of St. John the Evangelist, Your Apostle, so that She may come into possession of the everlasting treasures. This we ask of You through our Lord Jesus Christ Your Son Who lives and reigns with You in the unity of the Holy Spirit one God forever and ever.
R. Amen.

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

New Poem

I apologize for neglecting this blog of late! I've been working hard on schoolwork, not to mention poetry. The editor of Christendom's literary magazine was dejected by the low number of submissions this quarter to the point of writing a long rant in The Rambler, in which he exhorted the next generation of Catholic writers to stop partying and slacking, and write. I didn't really need this harangue, but I decided I'd submit more than one piece next time.

We read Tennyson's Ulysses in English class the other day. I, in the interests of avoiding my English homework, wrote a poem about the poem - a task which absorbed me for an hour or so. Alas, after I had written the poem my paper had not disapeared. Perhaps I will relate the way I finished my paper, but if I do, you will have to read it on Fiddleback Fever. Anyway, this is my poem, with Ulysses as the speaker. I still haven't made a title. If you think of a good one, tell me.


All is made ready.
The wine and the barley are stowed,
Everything needed and all my men ready.

The lowering hill path,
Night wind's rivercourse,
Drifts my feet seaward.

Stir on the cool shore. Lantern hangs over the wave.
Darkness binds up the olive tree's glitter,
Sends sleep on the echoing light-haunted cave.

Brine-clabbered hawsers,
Wind sough, slap of the swell.
The lull
and the low hull.
Full tide,
Blear-eye salt and the
Far gleam
Circuiting ever the Ocean Stream,
Farther, farther I fare on. Fare well.


The braided line in my hand turns
To her woven tress.
Sail-gathering, shiver of furls
To the sound of her dress.
I saw her distress.
I want to see asphodel at the end.
Those eyes will abide
When mine are closed, where shadows tend
The fever-glare of the mind...

Oh Athena!
What is this new thing I see,
What is that dark height
Wherefrom the seas reel and the birds flee?
This at last is a match for me
And a door on night.

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Feast of St. Edmund Campion today!

One of my favorite saints, a man as brave as he was brilliant.

If you haven't read his challenge to the Queen's council, you ought to go here: Campion's Brag. This is the closing passage:

Many innocent hands are lifted up to heaven for you daily by those English students, whose posterity shall never die, which beyond seas, gathering virtue and sufficient knowledge for the purpose, are determined never to give you over, but either to win you heaven, or to die upon your pikes. And touching our Society, be it known to you that we have made a league—all the Jesuits in the world, whose succession and multitude must overreach all the practice of England—cheerfully to carry the cross you shall lay upon us, and never to despair your recovery, while we have a man left to enjoy your Tyburn, or to be racked with your torments, or consumed with your prisons. The expense is reckoned, the enterprise is begun; it is of God; it cannot be withstood. So the faith was planted: So it must be restored.

ix. If these my offers be refused, and my endeavours can take no place, and I, having run thousands of miles to do you good, shall be rewarded with rigour. I have no more to say but to recommend your case and mine to Almighty God, the Searcher of Hearts, who send us his grace, and see us at accord before the day of payment, to the end we may at last be friends in heaven, when all injuries shall be forgotten.

Oh, for the days when Jesuits were Jesuits and giants walked the earth!

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