Friday, January 15, 2010

Friday’s Faith - Keening Cries

Friday’s Faith

Keening Cries

We live in a superficial, media-driven culture that often seems uncomfortable with true depths of feeling. Indeed, it seems as if our culture has become increasingly intolerant of that acute sorrow, that intense mental anguish and deep remorse which may be defined as grief. We want to medicate such sorrow away. We want to divide it into recognizable stages so that grief can be labeled, tamed, and put behind us. But poets have always celebrated grief as one of the deepest human emotions. To grieve is to lament, to mourn, to let sorrow inhabit one's very being.

Robert Frost liked to distinguish between grievances (complaints) and griefs (sorrows). He even suggested that grievances, which are propagandistic, should be restricted to prose, "leaving poetry free to go its way in tears." Implicit in poetry is the notion that we are deepened by heartbreaks, that we are not so much diminished as enlarged by grief, by our refusal to vanish--to let others vanish--without leaving a verbal record. Poetry is a stubborn art. The poet is one who will not be reconciled, who is determined to leave a trace in words, to transform oceanic depths of feeling into the faithful nuances of art.

~ Edward Hirsch


Keening Cries

by Angie Bennett Prince

Lots of guttural whimpers from my heart,

contractions of a mother’s soul, giving

birth to her child by being quite apart…

“(She was) dying here—let her go, to go on living…

A mother’s job: do what’s best for your child,

even if it means ‘dying’ on grief’s cross…”

I had NO choice when my child chose t’ go wild;

now, my only “choice” – to accept her loss?!

“But…you were watching her…dying on th’ vine;

there’s no pleasure in that, loving her so…

watching her be pickled by this world’s wine….

Birthing: give life. Give Life now: let her go.”

But Lord, I can’t: (my) children are my whole life!

“Yes,” He says to me, “so it was with Me…

to give Life, I had to give My Son’s life…

Your loss…is not forever…she’s with Me!”

But I’m here; it feels like a “Mother—FAIL”!

“No indeed, child, it is a Mother’s GAIN:

to give what you can’t keep—to save from hell!

Her soul’s with Me! Can you accept death’s pain?”

Oh Lord, I’m stuck in this world’s finite thought—

You gave up Your Childmy child’s Life You bought!

As the wheat must die to reproduce life,

so this mommy dies to spare her child’s Life…

So…again…I pick up my cross today,

life-as-I-knew-it gone…Lord, lead the way.

Fix my eyes on Jesus who bore His cross,

for the joy set before Him, endured th’ loss.

And in the throes of her death, miserable,

help me see You, the One invisible.

“What’s seen’s temporary; th’ unseen’s eternal;

conceding death…to birth Life’s…maternal.

Troubles now achieve Glory eternal…

So don’t lose heart midst keening cries maternal!”


Even Elizabeth Barrett Browning encouraged passion and grief as we struggle before God, crying out to him from the bottom of our souls. And if we can weep and find Him, then we may also "arise and go."

681. Grief

I tell you, hopeless grief is passionless;

That only men incredulous of despair,

Half-taught in anguish, through the midnight air

Beat upward to God's throne in loud access

Of shrieking and reproach. Full desertness,

In souls as countries, lieth silent-bare

Under the blanching, vertical eye-glare

Of the absolute Heavens. Deep-hearted man, express

Grief for thy Dead in silence like to death—

Most like a monumental statue set

In everlasting watch and moveless woe

Till itself crumble to the dust beneath.

Touch it; the marble eyelids are not wet:

If it could weep, it could arise and go.

~Elizabeth Browning


And Tagore, Asia's first Nobel Prize Laureate in Literature reminds us of God's eternal perspective that soothes our deep grief...

Say not in grief that she is no more

but say in thankfulness that she was.

A death is not the extinguishing of a light,

but the putting out of the lamp

because the dawn has come.

~Rabindranath Tagore

Edward Hirsch:
Elizabeth Barrett Browning:
Rabindranath Tagore:

Poem – Keening Cries – Angie Bennett Prince – 6/9/09


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