Deep calleth unto deep

great mysterious
multitudinous
voice of the sea —

a composite of all
sounds of the world
brought down
by all the rivers
in their courses
through the lands —

all the sounds
the earth utters
to the heavens
in its daily life —

the tinkle and drip
of pellucid springs
hidden deep in
remote hill countries —

the rattling laughter
of summer streams
with rustling leaves
and piping birds —

the deep whisper
of the woods and
the boom and roar
as they wrestle
with the winds —

the crash of waterfalls
echoes of mountains
the rush of storms and
roll and peal of thunder —

the merry shouts
of playing children
commingled murmurs
of manifold labor and
brooding world-spirit —

the clatter and
grinding of mills
the tumultuous
straining voices
of busy towns —

the world-embracing sea
has taken in and blended
and harmonized all these
into its own eternal call —

as you, child of the world
sit there and listen
your own comes back
to you in that mighty voice —

deep calling unto deep
the soul of the sea
to the soul of the man —

—Rev. James H. Ecob, D.D. (1844–1921), from “The Call of the Universe,” Psalm 42:7 sermon, 1904, poetically abridged by Terri Guillemets, 2023

_____________________________
Ecob began his sermon: “I have long wanted some one whose soul hears, to write a poem on this subject, the call of the sea.” The good reverend already had the contents of the poem right there in his prose; I simply set it free for him and sincerely hope that the new creation is to his liking. —tg

Lapse

At 2 pm, doves coo
an afternoon lullaby —

drowsy ticking
drowns out work —

the clock’s face
and leaden hands
fall napping into
the hour’s warm lap —

minutes nod off and
sleepy seconds snore
digesting noon away —

time teeters —
its breathing slows
weighed down by
heavy parts of day —

—Terri Guillemets

The Poet, II

My body was once a beautiful house of marble,
Kissed to pale rose by the passionate heat of the sun,
Wherein through cunning channels flowed forever
Health-giving crimson blood in steady tides.

My eyes were then quick to see and to welcome beauty,
My lips smiled often with gratified desire,
My hands shook not, but were fit for caress or grapple,
My arms rose and my body moved in strength.

Then not a single line of any poem
Had my hands raped from my brain, but untouched and pure
They abode in the land of distant visions where no man
Heard my voice calling for them at eventide.

My blood lies in great black lakes now, sluggish and frozen,
Or fumes in like some boiling, stinging, poison brew
Till it suddenly stops in a lassitude unspoken,
Or bursts through my pores and covers me with red dew:

My eyes are bleared now and dull with sleepless midnights,
My lips are shrunken purses—their gold is spent,
My hands unsteadily clutch and paw and tremble,
My arms are as strings of macaroni bent.

And as for my chest, ’tis like a leaky air-box
Fixed to some cheap melodeon out of tune,
The bellows creak, the loose and brown keys rattle,
And the music that comes is like a dog’s sick moan.

But in my brain there seethes an adulterous hotchpotch
Of poems clean and disgusting, mad and sage;
And pain, like a dry fire, keeps them ever a-boiling
Till they splash over and blacken some wasted page.

Yes, I am a poet now to be mocked and applauded,
A turnspit that turns and must never taste the meat:
Behold how great I am, but I wait for a greater,
Even Death, who will silence the march of these crippled feet.

—John Gould Fletcher (1886–1950), “The Poet, II,” Fire and Wine, 1913

XXXI

My stiff-spread arms
Break into sudden gesture;
My feet seize upon the rhythm;
My hands drag it upwards:
Thus I create the dance.

I drink of the red bowl of the sunlight:
I swim through seas of rain:
I dig my toes into earth:
I taste the smack of the wind:
I am myself:
I live.

The temples of the gods are forgotten or in ruins:
Professors are still arguing about the past and the future:
I am sick of reading marginal notes on life,
I am weary of following false banners:
I desire nothing more intensely or completely than this present;
There is nothing about me you are more likely to notice than my being:
Let me therefore rejoice silently,
A golden butterfly glancing against an unflecked wall.

—John Gould Fletcher (1886–1950), Irradiations, 1915

Stoic

I searched the history of grass,
Beneath hawk-shadows blowing past.

I learned the timelessness of stone;
Saw forest-flesh and forest-bone
Reach briefly up, go swiftly down,
Crash in green, dissolve to brown.

Taught by decay and schooled by molder,
I can turn a stoic shoulder
To beauty spiking searching eyes
And breasts defenselessly unwise.

Against impermanence I lock
My soul, confiding it to rock.

—Frances M. Frost (1905–1959), “Stoic,” Hemlock Wall, 1929