Sunday 9 March 2014

Lenten reflection with James McAuley

For some Lenten meditation, here's a poem by the Australian poet and literary critic James McAuley. It's called "In the Twentieth Century," from his 1969 collection Surprises of the Sun.

Christ, you walked on the sea,

But cannot walk in a poem,

Not in our century.

There's something deeply wrong

Either with us or with you.

Our bright loud world is strong

And better in some ways

Than the old haunting kingdoms:

 I don't reject our days.

But in you I taste bread,

Freshness, the honey of being,

And rising from the dead:

Like yolk in a warm shell—

Simplicities of power,

And water from a well.

We live like diagrams

Moving on a screen.

Somewhere a door slams

Shut, and emptiness spreads.

Our loves are processes

Upon foam-rubber beds.

Our speech is chemical waste;

The words have a plastic feel,

An antibiotic taste.

And yet we dream of song

Like parables of joy.

There's something deeply wrong.

Like shades we must drink blood

To find the living voice

That flesh once understood.

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