Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Don't you love that!

Maybe a month ago, I was sitting in a poetry class and the instructor gave a quote that I hit me.  Why? First, it had to do with poetry; second, it had to do with theology; and third, it had to do with music, and specifically church music, which is a topic I have been grappling with.  So I jotted what I could, down in my journal, maybe 40 % - a bit of a mess.  I later listened to the audio of the class and was able to jot  the quote down in its entirely. But, I didn't realize I had missed something. This is the great part ...  The book arrived yesterday, I love those little yellow packages that present as presents, after a long day, on the stoop of the door.  As I was reading I found the quote at the end of the very first chapter.  There is something about  good typeset that lends itself to beauty - doing for the eyes, what the words do for the ears, and these combined with truth sink in a delightful way straight to the soul. Don't you love that!  So here is the quote - in -as close as I can get it - typeset. It is even better when read aloud slowly.

To Theology, Mother of the Sciences, Poetry should be her wisest, eldest, and yet ever loveliest yougest daughter, the first of her handmaidens, enjoying the first-born's share of her love.  To return to Corinna's appeal with a wider application-
     O let thy children lean aslant
        Against the tender Mother's knee,
     And into her face, and want
        To know what magic there can be
     In words that urge some eyes to dance,
        While others in a holy trance
    Look up to heaven; be such praise!
Why linger?  I must haste, or lose the Delphic bays.

Rejecting Poetry, how coarse and cheap is the kind of appeal nowadays offered in congregational worship?
Oh, for the pearly gates of Heaven,
         Oh, for the golden floor!
But surely, surely, Oh for anything more poetical!

That sort of stuff may satisfy, but it does not cure; may ease like an opiate, but cannot heal.
                                       When half-gods go
                                           The Gods arrive.

I hope, Gentlemen, to examine with you, next time, this opposition of the poet as an individual and as a citizen; reconciling them if we can; anyhow convinced it is worth trying in these perilous days.
The Poet as Citizen & Other Papers, Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch, Macmillian, 1935. p. 23,24

Beautiful, thoughtful, and gives an answer to several things: one being why the old, poetic hymns resonate so deeply with the spirit. It is nice to have words to express that feeling that returns again and again since childhood.

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