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O Light Exalted

Dante’s understanding of the heavens—as spheres rotating around the Earth—has been out of date astronomically for nearly half a millennium. Dante’s political world consisted of a score of perpetually warring Italian city states and a few greedy, scheming popes. His intellectual . . . . Continue Reading »

As It Turns Out

Give me, I thought, a stand of tilted pinesguarding white water hurtling into mist.Give me a steep-cut torrent over stones,trout-bright, clear and fast. Or better, I wished, give me the reckless reachof a winter sea, heaved by moon and wind,salt-sweet mayhem roaring across a beach’sapron of . . . . Continue Reading »

Saint Lucy

She is already what she will become.In crimson cape, her neck pierced by a sword,she holds the palm of peace and martyrdom— both suffering and glory, her reward. The striking textile pattern, a rosette, recurs in hues of amethyst and jade, suggesting jewels, perhaps an amulet for Christians. . . . . Continue Reading »

Fray Luis De León: Dizain

Here is the place envy and lies Pent me behind a prison gate. Oh, happy is the humble state Of that wise man so sage he flies This wicked world that’s filled with hate, And with his humble home and board In some delightful country spot, His one companion there the Lord, Lives out his life alone, . . . . Continue Reading »

Starting With a Sentence by Aidan Hart

Truth is truth wherever it is found, In light-struck windowed hands of opal glass, In pebbles left in homage on a grave, In fingers shelling mounds of lady peas, In radiance that roosts inside the soul, In paint, in words, in whirling steps, in steel, In “rings of fire” as infant heads are . . . . Continue Reading »

The Morning After Angels

The morning after angelsSt. Joseph sanded wood,Nailed smooth boards at right angles,And though the crib was rude, It was a vast improvement On donkey’s feeding trough; The craftsmanship was excellent Though the design was rough. St. Joseph made a promise To keep God safe from harm; At the coming . . . . Continue Reading »

Collect for the First Sunday in Advent

’Tis the year’s midnight, and it is the day’s,Lucy’s, who scarce seven hours herself unmasks.— John Donne, “A Nocturnal upon St. Lucy’s Day,Being the Shortest Day” Afternoons end early, in December. When the day dissolves in night, remember Lucy, who took on the night, embodied . . . . Continue Reading »

Nolde’s “Heilige Nacht” (1912)

Mary’s long white armslift the baby high above her head.He is seated in her palms, a pose precarious—his head droops, an eerie portent of the cross. Through the open doorway shepherds mosey closer with their crooks. The mule slobbers grain from the trough. Blue shadows ring Joseph’s eyes. . . . . Continue Reading »

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