Skip to main content

New Poem by GB Clarkson



Today, for the first time, the Catholic Church will celebrate in its liturgical calendar the feast of the well-loved Victorian theologian, philosopher, poet, and pastor, John Henry Newman, declared ‘blessed’ during Pope Benedict’s recent visit to Britain.

October 9th is the 165th anniversary of Blessed John Henry's historic entry into the Catholic Church. Having made up his mind to take this step, and having heard that the Passionist priest, Dominic Barbieri, whose holiness had deeply impressed Newman, was to be travelling through Oxford, Newman invited him to nearby Littlemore, where he was livingSuch was Newman’s fervour that, when the priest arrived late in the evening of 8th October, shivering and soaking wet from his journey, the convert immediately knelt down in front of him, and asked to be received into the Church. He made his general confession there and then, and became a Catholic on the evening of 9th October. Newman never regretted his decision, and, not only in his Apologia pro Vita Sua, but also in many letters, witnesses to the interior peace that always accompanied him as a Catholic, despite the well known fact that he was not spared difficulties not only from outside the Church but also within it.

Beatus

His helicopter against the cloud-bossed sky,
then, giant, Benedict appears electronically,
smiling, shy, somewhere ‘off’.
An answering sea of plastic macs
swivels, cheers; perplexed, all try to match
the images projected on high monitors,
with reality:  ‘He’s near some flowers.’
A hot love-wave stutters forward, down

the natural amphitheatre slope to
the temporary Sanctuary, set for Mass.
Communication’s made by tannoy
and strange silent script onscreen:
The Holy Father will now move
amongst us… do not push…or rush…
Pushing, rushing, crowds swell sideways
against light restraints; a baby’s lifted,  

pressed, blessed; and other mothers surge
to proffer theirs. But later, after Mass,
blessings like fresh-cut sandwiches are there
for all to pack and take and share.
Praise to the Holiest in the Height,
sung now for Maker but sung too
for poet, who devised it: one who loved
and walked these Lickey Hills: religious

genius… distinguished countryman… struggler
for truth. Wind gets up during the sermon, its ice
bites through to an unfamiliar core. With rain and sun
it feels as though the ‘wild…world-mothering air’
engenders something new. Fifty-five
thousand souls drop silent (has everyone
gone home?) while blessings fall
which stay around the heart, still. Present

at each drawing breath, like the press
of lambswool shift against the chest,
a kind of pallium, to breast the winter.
Cramped hearts dilate. And when
the gauze slipped from the familiar
painted face, John Henry Newman was
‘Beatus’, and we too—running, slipping,
reaching up— we too, beati were.
                                                                    Cofton Park, Birmingham, 19th September, 2010

G. B. Clarkson, a Catholic poet, lives and works in the UK Midlands. This poem was written on the occasion of Newman’s Beatification at Cofton Park, Birmingham, on 19 September, 2010.
1 comment

Popular posts from this blog

DANGER, MAN

Like a crazed killer clown, whether we are thrilled, horrified, shocked, or angered (or all of these) by Donald Trump, we cannot claim to be rid of him just yet. He bestrides the world stage like a silverback gorilla (according to one British thug), or a bad analogy, but he is there, a figure, no longer of fun, but grave concern.

There has long been a history of misogynistic behaviour in American gangster culture - one thinks of the grapefruit in the face in The Public Enemy, or Sinatra throwing a woman out of his hotel room and later commenting he didn't realise there was a pool below to break her fall, or the polluted womb in Pacino'sScarface... and of course, some gangsta rap is also sexist.  American culture has a difficult way with handling the combined aspects of male power, and male privilege, that, especially in heteronormative capitalist enclaves, where money/pussy both become grabbable, reified objects and objectives (The Wolf of Wall Street for instance), an ugly fus…

AMERICA PSYCHO

According to the latest CBS, ABC, etc, polls, Clinton is still likely to beat Trump - by percentile odds of 66% to 33% and change. But the current popular vote is much closer, probably tied with the error of margin, around 44% each. Trump has to win more key battleground states to win, and may not - but he is ahead in Florida...

We will all know, in a week, whether we live in a world gone madder, or just relatively mad.

While it seems likely calmer heads will prevail, the recent Brexit win shows that polls can mislead, especially when one of the options is considered a bit embarrassing, rude or even racist - and Trump qualifies for these, at least.

If 42-45% of Americans admit they would vote for Trump, what does that say about the ones not so vocal? For surely, they must be there, as well. Some of the undecided will slide, and more likely they will slide to the wilder and more exciting fringe candidate. As may the libertarians.

Eyewear predicts that Trump will just about manage to win th…

SEXTON SHORTLIST!

Announcing the Shortlist for the 2016 Sexton PrizeSeptember 13, 2016 / By Kelly Davio
Eyewear Publishing is pleased to announce the shortlist for the 2016 Sexton Prize. The finalists are, in no particular order, as follows:


THE BARBAROUS CENTURY, Leah Umansky
HISTORY OF GONE, Lynn Schmeidler
SEVERE CLEAR, Maya Catherine Popa
GIMME THAT. DON’T SMITE ME, Steve Kronen
SCHEHERAZADE AND OTHER REDEPLOYMENTS, David McAleavey
AN AMERICAN PURGATORY, Rebecca Gayle Howell
SIT IN THE DARK WITH ME, Jesse Lee Kercheval

The shortlist was selected by Eyewear’s Director Todd Swift with Senior Editor Kelly Davio. Don Share of Poetry Magazine will select the winning manuscript, which will be released at the 2017 AWP conference in Washington, D.C. The winner will be announced in October. 
Congratulations to our finalists!