View from the choir

I am a Catholic layperson and Secular Franciscan with a sense of humor. After years in the back pew watching, I have moved into the choir. It's nice to see faces instead of the backs of heads. But I still maintain God has a sense of humor - and that we are created in God's image.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Catholic poets

The Author's Motto
(Richard Crashaw)

Live Jesus, Live, and let it be
My life to die, for love of thee.

Metaphysical poet Richard Crashaw converted to Catholicism late in life.

He is one of many convert poets. That list is a long one - G. K. Chesterton, Denise Levertov, Gerard Many Hopkins, Thomas Merton, Oscar Wilde, Paul Claudel, George Mackay Brown, Dunstan Thompson, Roy Campbell, Edith Sitwell, Siegfried Sassoon, Alfred Noyes, Maurice Baring, Robert Benson, Cardinal John Henry Newman, John Dryden, and many more.

Some of these folks are better known for other works and other genres, but they did write verse. Some are better poets than others.

I suspect there are many other convert - and cradle Catholic - poets today.

Poetry is a flexible tool. It can be used to explore the mind and the soul. It can be used to entertain and to educate. It can be used to express deep emotions and profound thoughts.

Like any art form, it can also be misused and poorly done.

I don't denigrate the amateurs - as Chesterton noted, "If a thing is worth doing, it is worth doing badly." I read some people who are considered "light," trite, awkward. I look at myself as one of them! Folk/self-taught poets: Why not? I just make sure I also read poets who are more skilled and polished, and I try to improve my own poetry.

I also don't necessarily dismiss those who "misuse" poetry if they are sincere. You just have to be careful with such verses - you need a solid ethical/moral/aesthetic base before reading them.

And some poets simply should not be read by children from 6 to 60 and beyond.

I remember reading a highly respected and moderately popular contemporary poet. I borrowed several of his books from the library and dove in. His style was appealing and he had some interesting insights. But the more I read, the more my unease grew. His world view was so dark, so cynical, so amoral that I could feel it seeping into my mind and soul. I stopped reading.

I might use some of his techniques, but reject his world view.

I also read secular poets, and poets of other faiths. I don't dismiss them. There is much out there that is beautiful and moving. I just apply the same standards to those poets that I do to Catholic and Christian poets: Does reading their poetry make me a better, more insightful person?

But one of my points with this blog is to promote Catholic poets.

I have posted some of my own poems. As part of my Catholic Culture campaign, I plan to feature poems by other poets as well. You might see a verse by a classic poet, poetry from more obscure contemporary and historical poets, or poems from other blogs and sites.

The poems will not necessarily be religious. The might be about nature. They might be about dogs. They might be about love and family. They might be humorous.

I hope that these poems will inspire you in your own faith life, and to perhaps write your own poetry. At the least, I hope you will find them worth reading, and will do some exploring and reading of your own.

Labels: ,


Post a Comment

<< Home