Friday, February 20, 2009

Reflection on Poetic Wellspring
a poem
by Peter Menkin
revise 2009, from 2001

Introduction: "Anglican Poetry as a Spiritual Path" with Pamela Cranston held in October 2001 at St. Stephen's Episcopal Church in Belvedere, CA USA (north of San Francisco) was a wonderful, memorable meeting and talk which I remember in this poem I wrote. This is the final revise on it, 8 years later, posted at the end of this Peter Menkin blog entry. First, other poems by poets better known than this aspiring poet.

We have women Priests in The Episcopal Church USA, and the poet Pamela Cranston is one of them. Her work is sometimes published in the American "Anglican Theological Review," and I have one of her books. I've posted one of her poems at the end of this entry, and noted it as hers from the very good workbook that was party to the talk. This poem by her titled, "Searching for Nova Albion" is from an unpublished mansucript, Carriers of Strange Fire, copyrighted 2001.

The Priest Zoila Schoenbrun, my friend, put the talk together at the Church where she served, before her retirement. Because Lent is coming, and the Annunciation March 25, here this poem by Luci Shaw for the moment:

by Luci Shaw

As if until that moment
nothing real
had happened since Creation

As if outside the world were empty
so that she and he were all
there was--he mover, she moved upon

As if her submission were the most
dynamic of all works: as if
no one had ever said Yes like that

As if one day the sun had no place
in all the universe to pour its gold
but her small room

Pulitzer Prize winner Annie Dillard says that, "Luci Shaw gives us faith in writing at its most revelatory...a passionate embrace of creation's radiance."

Luci Shaw, born 1928, is but one poet in the "book" of poets Mother Pamela put together. Here is The Rev. Pamela Lee Cranston from the same "book."

Searching for Nova Albion
by Pamela Cranston

Today I went westering,
like Sir Francis Drake,
along the boulevard
that bore his name.

I drove past burger joints and bookstores,
theaters and boutiques,
past remnant groves of redwood trees
rapt in contemplation,
past oyster beds bubbling by Tomales Bay,
past depressed dairies sailing on the open moor,
Ghost ships splintered by the muscling mist,
to the furthest curb of Marin County.

Drake’s Beach lay fourteen miles out:
shafts of sunlight washed
the white curdled cliffs
leaving its yellow softness there.
I rinsed my eyes
and tried to see how Drake
would have seen this sandstone land.

And did his feet in ancient times
walk upon this pleasant strand?

Surely he saw the greedy gulls—
their feet like pink rubber spatulas;
saw ribbons of kelp lying in clumps
of tangled brown mops;
the lonesome pelican bobbing on the waves—
a tiny submarine, periscope up;
the Chinese calligraphy
of sandpiper tracks;
and the walls of green glass rising
in the sea’s silent elevator,
brimming towards thunder.

Except, there were more of them.

Let me be clear.
I am not like Francis Drake,
that merry rogue explorer—
his spirits addicted to high adventure.
I am like the earnest chaplain, Mr. Fletcher,
more tentative and bookish,
seasick below deck,
nervously thumbing his Prayerbook,
praying for dry land,
as one would for rain.

I tend to seek safe passage,
wherever I go.

But who can stand to see
the stripping of Albion’s beauty?
Who is willing to be the last
to hear a curlew sing?

Why I post the poem on Nova Albion here is I live in Marin County, in Mill Valley, north of San Francisco, CA USA, and I think it tells so well of the area--the poem does. Thank you Pamela. Wonderful poem!

These credits for this poem "...Albion..."
Searching For Nova Albion, in The Anglican Theological Review, Vol. 83, No. 4, pgs. 821-2, Fall 2001.

The poetry gathering was an area event, and people from the entire Bay Area of Episcopal Churchgoers were invited. I don't think we had more than ten participants. I was one, and this is the poem I wrote about the morning event.

Reflection on Poetic Wellspring
By Peter Menkin
February 19, 2009

We reflect in words.
We reflect on poetry
and God, and faith in this room
at Church. The morning light
is remarkable here.

The colors of the room
are present to the bright
morning time, windows clear to day
letting in much light and largeness
that the privacy of the heart
is awake, more so.

The words in their rhythm,
in their depth,
in their resonance move us.

How we are in slumber is noticed during awakening,
and being more alive in the eternal
we grasp time together.

So these poetic lines illuminated
with morning hours and friendship
bring life to sensibilities aesthetic.

These times allow us with God, to come, go
with knowledge; we are passing through,
journeying with what is given.
That is the renewing sigh of gift.

This sacred place is special, for we
expect the Holy and religiously spiritual
by its place and purpose.

Do we poets not add to praise
and recognition of Christ? Yes.
Holy Spirit of the Season, come,
hear our words.

The season is changing at the end of Pentecost,
knowing the risen Lord.
This is song of the poems,
in the attention of those present,
in the hour of joint concentration.
It is that we are new renewed.

New living members grow
among the spirit's times, we in quiet pray:
present growing light,
illumine us.
We are in these bodies that are
flesh of man and woman as before time itself;
we know the ancient, and feel our humanity.

Images: Middle images from this place:

That is, "Image & Spirit," a blog part of Episcopal Church Visual Arts Network.
The third image: Jeanelle McCall, all rights reserved. This address:
Title of work: "Voice Within."

Second image title: "Honoring the Dark." These notes from the posting on "Image & Spirit." Photo by Jan Neal. The photograph above honors the dark and oddly served to examine my shadow's fascination with this image of what looks like a monster - actually a cicada - perched on the head of the blessed Mother Mary statue who stands guard at the entrance of my garden. Read about the symbolism of the cicada, to include its Christian symbolism and enjoy the irony of this image captured by my shadow at The Sacred and the Profane. The entry is found here:

The Sacred and Profane is found here:

First picture by Rick White of Mill Valley, CA USA showing Mount Tamalpias. Rick's notes on the photograph: On a daily walk along Corte Madera Creek I'm never without my Nikon. This day, stopping to admire Mt. Tamalpais' profile, I impulsively lay down face-forward into a patch of dandelions, so to catch the setting sun shining through this seed-pod's perfect globe.

Last image, a gathering of people at Church. I've lost the reference to it for a credit, my apologies.

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