Wednesday, November 28, 2007

A Favourite -- The Sparrow's Skull

From time to time, as well as my own writing, I want to include some bits of other people's work which is especially dear to me.Today, a poem I love, by Ruth Pitter, who was a friend of C S Lewis, and a poet who deserves much more recognition than she has. The final stanza is one I return to again and again as a source of courage and faith.

THE SPARROW'S SKULL

Memento Mori Written at the Fall of France

The kingdoms fall in sequence, like the waves on the shore.
All save divine and desperate hopes go down, they are no more.
Solitary is our place, the castle in the sea,
And I muse on those I have loved, and on those who have loved me.

I gather up my loves, and keep them all warm,
While above our heads blows the bitter storm:
The blessed natural loves, of life-supporting flame,
And those whose name is Wonder, which have no other name.

The skull is in my hand, the minute cup of bone,
And I remember her, the tame, the loving one,
Who came in at the window, and seemed to have a mind
More towards sorrowful man than to those of her own kind.

She came for a long time, but at length she grew old;
And on her death-day she came, so feeble and so bold;
And all day, as if knowing what the day would bring,
She waited by the window, with her head beneath her wing.

And I will keep the skull, for in the hollow here
Lodged the minute brain that had outgrown a fear;
Transcended an old terror, and found a new love,
and entered a strange life, a world it was not of.

Even so, dread God! even so my Lord!
The fire is at my feet, and at my breast the sword:
and I must gather up my soul, and clap my wings, and flee
Into the heart of terror, to find myself in thee.

--Ruth Pitter

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