Monday, November 13, 2006

Religious Resources

A reader has asked what books of poetry or other readings I would recommend to her as she renews her spiritual life. It's a hard question, as I don't know her, and all of this is so very individual. But I so applaud the impulse! It really is good to have texts at hand to mull over, memorize, and work with so that they can work in us.

I'm the sort of reader who has favorite poems more than favorite books of poetry, although I notice that my personal collection has a lot of Mary Oliver, Hafiz, and Wendell Berry. At one point in my life, I had a dozen poems by Edna St. Vincent Milley memorized; they were a lifeline through my late adolescence. I only remember that because as I walked yesterday, dissolved in sadness over the death of a 25 year old from my congregation, the words leaped on to my lips, "I am not resigned to the shutting away of loving hearts in the hard ground." It's the first line of a poem by Millay, which I memorized, I think, when Robert Kennedy was murdered. I've rarely thought of it since, and there it was, ready for me when I needed it. Amazing. (you can find it and other poems by Millay, here)

Now as to sharing my favorite poems, I feel squeamish about copywrite, just enough that I don't want to copy my texts into this blog, but not so squeamish that I won't point my readers to people less squeamish than I who have. So here are 7 of my cherished poems which I found on line:

Phillip Booth's "First Lessons", which you can find here
Carl Sandburg's "Elephants" which you can find here
The Weighing by Jane Hirshfield, here
e.e.Cumming's i thank you god, here
Alistar Reid's Curiosity, here
martha Courtot's Crossing a Creek, here
and a poem about change and transition by Wendell Berry, here

It seems extremely odd to me, but many of these poems are found on UU sermon websites. Are we all thinking alike, we UU ministers? Probably. But is Google noticing my searches and tailoring it's results to me, or does everyone who searches for poetry keep getting UU ministers' sermons?

Enough for now! Prose tomorrow


Lizard Eater said...

Wow Wow Wow. Somehow, I never ran into that Millay poem. I read the all of "Dirge Without Music," and copied it. Just the poem I needed to see right now, and will passing on to my father.

I will confess to using a particular poem in two different sermons. "I Saw in Louisiana A Live Oak Growing" by Whitman. I can't say enough about it, except that it comes to my mind at least once a year. Sometimes, once a month. "... and though the live-oak glistens there in Louisiana, solitary, in a wide flat space, Uttering joyous leaves all its life, without a friend, a lover, near, I know very well I could not."

mjae said...

Thanks for the great start, Christine!

Just today I received a used copy of Rilke's Book of Hours in the mail, and it's a hearty meal with plenty to chew on.

Here's to much food for thought!

The Requester