6th Sun C
Sunday 17th February 2019

Image supplied by Kathy Curran


Poetry speaks to the heart through the experience of another. The effort it takes to lay aside our own views and feelings and enter into someone else's vision helps us to prepare our hearts to be open to the wisdom of God.

This Sunday's Poetry

True faith in God transforms how we see and this poem by the Australian poet John Shaw Neilson (1872-1942) beautifully shows a passage of transformation.

The Gentle Water Bird

(for Mary Gilmore)

In the far days, when every day was long, Fear was upon me and the fear was strong, Ere I had learned the recompense of song.

In the dim days I trembled, for I knew God was above me, always frowning through, And God was terrible and thunder-blue.

Creeds the discoloured awed my opening mind, Perils, perplexities - what could I find? - All the old terror waiting on mankind.

Even the gentle flowers of white and cream, The rainbow with its treasury of dream, Trembled because of God's ungracious scheme.

And in the night the many stars would say Dark things unaltered in the light of day: Fear was upon me even in my play.

There was a lake I loved in gentle rain: One day there fell a bird, a courtly crane: Wisely he walked, as one who knows of pain.

Gracious he was and lofty as a king: Silent he was, and yet he seemed to sing Always of little children and the Spring.

God? Did he know him? It was far he flew?. God was not terrible and thunder-blue: - It was a gentle water bird I knew.

Pity was in him for the weak and strong, All who have suffered when the days were long And he was deep and gentle as a song.

As a calm soldier in a cloak of grey He did commune with me for many a day Till the dark fear was lifted far away.

Sober-apparelled, yet he caught the glow: Always of Heaven would he speak, and low, And he did tell me where the wishes go.

Kinsfolk of his it was who long before Came from the mist (and no one knows the shore) Came with the little children to the door.

Was he less wise than those birds long ago Who flew from God (He surely willed it so) Bearing great happiness to all below?

Long have I learned that all his speech was true; I cannot reason it - how far he flew - God is not terrible nor thunder-blue.

Sometimes, when watching in the white sunshine, Someone approaches - I can half define All the calm beauty of that friend of mine.

Nothing of hatred will about him cling: Silent - how silent - but his heart will sing Always of little children and the Spring.

John Shaw Neilson (1872-1942)

Possibly one of the most famous poems of Western literature, the poem on Mercy from the Merchant of Venice, captures how a beatitude of God’s mercy can be revealed in our lives.

The Quality of Mercy

The quality of mercy is not strained.
It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven
Upon the place beneath. It is twice blest:
It blesseth him that gives and him that takes.
Tis mightiest in the mightiest; it becomes
The throned monarch better than his crown.
His scepter shows the force of temporal power,
The attribute to awe and majesty,
Wherein doth sit the dread and fear of kings.
But mercy is above this sceptered sway;
It is enthroned in the hearts of kings;
It is an attribute of God himself;
And earthly power doth then show like God's
When mercy seasons justice.

William Shakespeare 1564-1616