Lauds: Daily Dose of Poetry and Art

Lauds: Daily Dose of Poetry and Art

Georgia O'Keeffe Black Cross
Georgia O’Keeffe Black Cross


by Paul Murray, O.P.

All things The Lord has made, O bless the Lord,
Give glory and eternal praise to Him. . .

Together with our morning papers’ dead:
unsmiling heroes, war-jaded, no longer game, the old,
the maimed, you also, your stoic gaiety
now needed more than ritual,
O bless the Lord.

And you, and you also,
crazed victims of unnatural love, chained to
the masks of vampire or sacrificial dove,
the tortured and the torturer,
O bless the Lord

And you who have no fear
of those who crush the bone, you innocence inviolable;
stone angel, prostrate in your mother’s womb,
unwanted three-months’ miracle,
O bless the Lord.

And buried behind charitable walls,
the unseen, unmourned for, you, your voices ever singing
in the darkness, cherubim of dwarf and mongol, bright
galaxy of souls of Limbo,
O bless the Lord,

And you the hideously mourned, lips
parted, rouged, smiling under expensive oils, O Dives
when through the painted mask your lips are burned,
O bless the Lord.

And you, when on your brow there glows
the desolate mark of Cain, when in your eyes, in the temple
of your heart, only the towering and dead
effigies of God remain,
O bless the Lord.

And you, whose memory revives
after the serpent sting: eyes closed, imagining your soul
redeemed, re-entering the lost kingdom. Exile,
when Death shall prove your dream,
O bless the Lord.

And you, those dying under ritual of torture
or no ritual: the suicides, the uncremated spirits in the fires
of Purgatory and Buchenwald — O quiet, innumerable
souls facing unquiet doom,

now, out of the burning fiery furnace,
out of the heart of the flame,

give glory and eternal praise to Him.

from Irish Poetry of Faith and Doubt: The Cold Heaven edited by John F. Deane

For my MA in Irish Studies, I didn’t have to write a thesis or take comps. I just had to do a final project, basically an independent study followed by an oral exam. It was kind of lame since my adviser never made me write anything at all. I was over worked and stressed out and usually doing the reading for my independent study in the couple of hours before our weekly meetings. She wasn’t interested in my topic– religious imagery in modern Irish poetry– at all and I had no focus and never did find one. Nevertheless, I got to read some great poetry. This poem wasn’t one of them, but the book it came from is a legacy from that period of my life.

According to Wikipedia, the author, Paul Murray is a Dominican priest and I wish I knew more about him. It’s a rather grim poem, but I like the riff on the Liturgy of the Hours.

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