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Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Rowan Williams' Poems

One of the interesting things about the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, is that he's a poet. I've looked for some of his poems online, but they are thin on the ground. Here are some gleanings from a couple of articles on the web ...

Below is a poem by Williams in an excerpt from Sacred Mysteries by Christopher Howse - Telegraph.co.uk

Here is a short poem on a chapel at the church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem. It is called "Calvary".

The metalled O. Like
Bethlehem, like
a baroque drain in the marble floor;
when your hand has been
sucked in, it comes away
from its complicity moist,
grimy, sweet-scented.


-

And here are a couple of Williams' poems in an excerpt from The Poems of Rowan Williams - Christian Century, Oct 18, 2005 by Jill Pelaez ...

In "Gethsemane" the poet finds the contorted olive trees an apt emblem for what took place in that garden, and at this site of Jesus" agonized prayer he envisions a kind of wailing wall where quick and tight" prayers can be delivered.

Into the trees' clefts, then, do we
push
our folded words, thick as thumbs?
somewhere inside the ancient bark,
a voice
has been before us, pushed the
densest word
of all, abba, and left it to be collected
by
whoever happens to be passing,
bent down
the same way by the hot unreadable
palms.

In some of these poems Williams's language is as full as that of Dylan Thomas or Gerard Manley Hopkins. "September Birds," for example, combines the cadence of line and phrase with rich sounds:

Down in the small hollow where
the currents shift
slowly, and drop with the thinning
sun, the crows
float, crowding the shallow slopes
of air,
and vague as specks of stubble fire:
the sun
has scattered them from thinning
flames, has clapped
a hollow hand, once, twice, a glowing
wooden gong,
a log that cracks sharp in the ashes,
and
has given wings to the charred dust.


More of Rowan Williams' poetry can be found in his book - The Poems of Rowan Williams

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