"As kingfishers catch fire, dragonflies draw flame; / [ . . . ] Each mortal thing does one thing and the same: / Deals out that being indoors each one dwells; / Selves -- goes itself; 'myself' it speaks and spells, / Crying 'What I do is me; for that I came'." --Gerard Manley Hopkins

12 September 2005

Under Conviction, Again

I just got a boxload of books (the day 42 freshman essays came in, too . . . how unfair is that!). I can only afford the time to glance through one in the next few days, so I chose poet Scott Cairns' Philokalia. The first poem I chanced across took my breath.

"Possible Answers to Prayer"

Your petitions -- though they continue to bear
just the one signature -- have been duly recorded.
Your anxieties -- despite their constant,

relatively narrow scope and inadvertent
entertainment value -- nonetheless serve
to bring your person vividly to mind.

Your repentence -- all but obscured beneath
a burgeoning, yellow fog of frankly more
conspicuous resentment -- is sufficient.

Your intermittent concern for the sick,
the suffering, the needy poor is sometimes
recognizable to me, if not to them.

Your angers, your zeal, your lipsmackingly
righteous indignation toward the many
whose habits and sympathies offend you --

these must burn away before you'll apprehend
how near I am, with what fervor I adore
precisely these, the several who rouse your passions.

All I can say: Lord, help me.


Pamela said...

Dr. I--I miss you dreadfully! I certainly could use one of your good hugs and a chat. I could scarecly breath reading this poem. Thank you for sharing it. I love you!

alaiyo said...

Love you, too, Pamela! Will respond to your lovely letter when I get some breathing space later on today.



Megan said...

Wow. Convicting and beautiful.

John Schindler said...

Wow...that was amazing. Thanks for sharing.

amelia ruth said...

what an absolutely convicting poem. I'm tempted to print it out and stick it next to my prayer list to remind myself of how gracious God is to hear even my self-centered, self-gratified attempts at prayer.


Cindy said...

Scott Cairns, huh? I am intensely jealous (he's been on my reading list for awhile, but I've not gotten my hands on a book)and even more intensely pleased for you. Hard hitting poem, yes. But soooo GOOD.

"lipsmackingly righteous indignation"

That's one of those phrases you look at and say admiringly and without any sort of rancor at all, "I wish I'd written that!"

alaiyo said...

LuCindy, you must put him farther up your list! I dearly want your opinion of his work, both content and craft.


snowed under essays for now and forever . . . :(

Lisa (Froggyhead) said...

Just think back to "once upon a time" when you first thought "I wish I could get paid for reading". : D

Wonderful, wonderful poem. Kinda puts us in our place, huh?