Friday, November 02, 2007

To God the Father

Here is one of Henry Constable's Spiritual Sonnets:
Great God: within whose simple essence, we
Nothing but that which is thyself can find:
When on thyself thou did'st reflect thy mind
Thy thought was God, which took the form of thee:
And when this God thus born, thou lov'st, & he
Loved thee again, with passion of like kind,
(As lovers' sighs, which meet, become one wind)
Both breathed one spright of equal deity. [spirit]
Eternal father, whence these two do come
And wil'st the title of my father have,
As heavenly knowledge in my mind engrave,
That it thy son's true Image may become:
And sence my heart with sighs of holy Love, [incense]
That it the temple of the Spright may prove. [Spirit]

Henry Constable (1562-1613) was a contemporary of Shakespeare. He wrote a whole series of Spiritual Sonnets, which are available online here. This one, "To God the Father," was followed by "To God the Son" and "To God the Holy Ghost."

I discovered this poem in a book called Poetry and Life: An Anthology of English Catholic Poetry, compiled by F.J. Sheed and published by guess who in 1942. The volume included not only a great selection of poems, but a comprehensive study guide as well. Note, the text of Constable's poem was slightly altered in this volume because of archaic spelling. The version above is the original.

It was part of a series called "Catholic Masterpiece Tutorial Series: A Masterpiece of Month to Form a Catholic Mind." Other volumes in the series include:
  • Whom Do You Say? by J.P. Arendzen,
  • Callista, by John Henry Cardinal Newman,
  • Survivals and new Arrivals, by Hilaire Belloc.
  • Christ in the Church, by Robert Hugh Benson,
  • The Desert Fathers, compiled by Helen Waddell,
  • The Confessions of St. Augustine, and
  • What is Wrong with the World, by G.K. Chesterton.
Membership in the club cost $6.50 for 8 books bound in cloth and $5.00 for 8 books bound in paper.

We need something like this now. We also need this kind of writing now!

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