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The Poets

May 26, 2009

A Monk's Refrain

Hide me away, O my soul
Shut me in her sacred cell
Let vesper pray’r these speeches quell
'Till dawn bid that the silence null
'Till matin and till lauds are done
'Till hymns and chap’l songs ascend
To Jesus Christ our Lord and Friend
With Spirit and with Father one

-jwm


Of the Poem:

My initial intent was to write a poem about a Carmelite Monk (specifically Juan de la Cruz), while attempting to adhere to a metrical pattern and a rhyme scheme of some sort- so much for the meter!

This has happened to me before… I would start a poem intending at least four quatrains (with which I’m most comfortable and enjoy) and then, after a single stanza or two, an overwhelming sense of completion would set in. No matter how intense the edits, addition, subtractions, altered rhyme scheme, different imagery- in short, no matter what!- that sense of completion would become polluted. And not just mildly.

These two stanzas (now an octet) are almost as they were first written, then that sense of solidification set in, my initial intent was vanquished. So I left it as is for a while, attempted adjustments and even entirely new stanzas, but to no avail. Finally I abandoned myself to its completion, and only then did I feel ‘clean’ about it. I’m very happy with this short poem.

4 comments:

John W. May said...

*It occurred to me: was a latent apperception at work as I attempted to write this poem? Its religious content was certainly intentional on my part. Yet there’s a blatant dualism I see in it, a dualism seemingly unintended: speech and silence; sleep and waking; death and resurrection; dying to self and living for Christ, and much much more… Is this type of unconscious production possible? Let me be clear: I attach NO prophetic, transcendental, spiritual or religious inspiration to it. I just think it’s joyfully strange.

Doug P. Baker said...

Excellent poem!

Nancy said...

It is with delight that I read about your awe and wonder at having unintended depth of your own creation revealed to you. Of course it is possible, probable, and undoubtably unusual for it NOT to occur!

Our brain is an amazing organism within which is stored so many memories, perceptions, emotions, experiences, and thoughts that for it not be revealed in our creativity is almost absurd to consider.

This has been validated in my recent study in brain science and research in dealing with children of trauma and attachment issues. So much is imprinted in that network of cells that we have no conscious perception of its existence. It colors our very world and makes us who we are.

I can also speak from personal experience of having been the subject of critique and interpretation of my own artistic work, and having things said that I had never dreamed of during the production of those pieces. Yet once pointed out, the symbolism and significance was hard to overlook.

Press on, my dear friend. You've only just begun to tap into the "joyfully strange." (And what a delightful combination of modifier and noun in itself -- I like it!).

Nancy said...

Oh! I forgot to add ... I really love the first line and the peace and security it evokes. My soul resonates with those words.

I also completely enjoy the bold reference to Jesus Christ versus your often cryptic and symbolic inclusion of Him. Don't get me wrong, those are lovely and appropriate. I just really like your boldly and plainly speaking His name.

Be blessed.

As of April 9th, 2010