Gerald Dierkes is an information services specialist, and one of three Falvey staff members to submit one of their own poems for the Advent calendar.
With this final post I would like to thank everyone who has followed along with our Advent calendar as we made our way towards Christmas, my colleagues for contributing their favorite poems, especially my colleagues who bravely shared their own beautiful work with us, and our graduate assistant Michelle for working with me to get each one of these posts up on our blog.
I hope you enjoy our final poem, written and read by Gerald Dierkes, a reflection on trust.
Joseph, Mary’s husband, did you feel shocked
to learn of Mary’s unplanned pregnancy? _____________________________Betrayed
by her apparent infidelity
so soon after your commitment to each other? _____________________________Confused
by Mary’s joy in anticipating her child’s birth? _____________________________Overwhelmed
by her implausible explanation? _____________________________Love
as you protected her from legal consequences
of her alleged adultery? _____________________________Duty
as you accepted responsibility for her child? _____________________-_______Judged
by your neighbors in your small community? _____________________________Puzzled
by God’s plan? _____Why didn’t God arrange things differently?
When Caesar Augustus’ decree forced you to
leave your home in Galilee,
journey to Bethlehem, and
cause Mary to travel in the ninth month of her pregnancy and
give birth away from her home, away from her family, did you ask, _____Why didn’t God time things differently?
When you sought shelter at an inn for your obviously pregnant wife
—and were refused—
did you think, What gives, God? I’m trying to follow your will, aren’t I?
You persevered, though, finding a shelter for animals in which Mary could give birth,
without her mother, without a midwife, with only you at her side.
Mary did give birth, and God’s Son was born into our world. _____Why didn’t God plan things differently?
Mere days later, the angel again directed you to change your plans,
this time fleeing to Egypt for an unspecified length of time,
causing your father, Jacob, and Mary’s mother, Ann, to wait years before seeing their grandson. _____Why didn’t God do things differently?
Did you expect God’s will to be predictable, logical (by human standards), and non-challenging?
Did you ever pause, in your struggle to trust God, to consider how much He trusts you?
Laura Bang is Falvey’s Digital and Special Collections Curatorial Assistant, and she is found this wonderful historical poem to share. This poem comes from page 2 of the first issue of The Villanova Monthly, from January 1893. The Villanova Monthly was the first student newspaper, running from 1893-1897. Returning after a hiatus in 1916, the paper was renamed The Villanovan.
The poem itself is by Eleanor C. Donnelly (1838-1917), a local Philadelphia Catholic poet. Falvey has digitized the Eleanor C. Donnelly Papers from the American Catholic Historical Society, which can be viewed in our Digital Library.
This Is Just To Say, by William Carlos Williams Read by Matthew Macfadyen
Submitted by Rebecca Whidden
Becky Whidden is an Access Services Specialist at Falvey. She shared the video for this poem with me when she heard about the poetry Advent calendar. I love this little poem and the video that Becky found to go with it. The poem itself is lacking in punctuation or rhyme, which makes it fairly ambiguous and open to the reader’s interpretation, which makes it a favorite among high school English teachers who in my experience have used it as a springboard for discussing meaning and interpretation in poetry. In some ways a Rorschach test with words.
At face value the poem is extremely simple, evoking the banal domestic image of a note left out on a table. However upon reading it, I personally can’t help but feel the sensual nature of the poem. The intimacy of a private note meant only to be shared between two people; the word choice “plums,” ‘icebox,” “forgive,” “delicious,” “sweet” something about the way these words feel when when spoken carries a richness that arouses the senses in complex and beautiful ways.
This Is Just To Say
by William Carlos Williams
I have eaten
that were in
you were probably
they were delicious
and so cold
“Library” by Scroobius Pip
Read by Scroobius Pip
Submitted by Sarah Wingo
We couldn’t very well have a library advent calendar and not have a poem about libraries. I ran across this one just the other day and fell in love with it, I hope you enjoy it too.
“Library” by Scroobius Pip was originally commissioned by Chris Hawkins for BBC 6 Music’s celebration of libraries and performed live on his show in November 2014. We haven’t provided the words for this poem because it really is as much performance piece as it is poem, and even though the video is just words on a screen as they’re being spoken, it is worth a watch.
“A Triptych in Verse in honor of the Blessed Virgin Mary” by Darren Poley Read by Darren Poley
Submitted by Darren Poley
Darren Poley is the Scholarly Outreach and Theology Librarian at Falvey Library and he is the second staff member to graciously share some of his personal poetry with us for our Advent calendar. Darren wrote this piece in August of 2014 with the dedication “to my friend Father K. Brewster Hastings Pastor of St. Anne’s Episcopal Church, Abington, Penna.”
A Triptych in Verse in honor of the Blessed Virgin Mary
By Darren Poley
Did It Rain In Galilee?
Holy Virgin do you delight in the rain?
Our heavenly Father sets the waters to move.
The waters are good and bring life from the earth.
They are there in the six days of Creation.
They are there when the earth was flooded.
Theotokos, do you delight in the rain?
Through your son, your only child, all things were made.
Daughter of the Father – Mother of the Son – chaste spouse of the Holy Spirit:
Did you weep with joy in Nazareth?
Did you weep with sadness in Jerusalem?
Rachel wept for her children.
Mother of God, mother of all;
Do you weep now for your children?
When you beheld the face of the glory of Israel;
That enlightens the benighted gentiles still:
Did you weep with joy in Bethlehem?
Did you weep with sadness in the cave made into a stable?
Queen of heaven and earth do you weep tears of myrrh?
Pure virgin who is the mother of the incarnate Logos:
Did you watch the Son of Man play in the rain as a child?
Were tears of sadness there because your spirit was pierced by a sword?
Were your tears at the foot of the cross mixed with the rain over Jerusalem?
Were they tears of myrrh?
All of Creation was reborn when your son rose from the dead.
Mary of holy Anne, descendent of kings, Mother of the Redeemer:
Turn your eyes of mercy towards us.
Ever-Virgin: show us the fruit of your womb;
It is a paradox to reason and a cause of delight.
It is the peace which passes all understanding.
It is raining today.
Parents weep with joy for they discover the blessings of children.
They weep with sorrow when they see their children eaten up by pride and hate.
The children fight over nothing.
Mix your tears with the rain.
Renew hope in us.
Weeping in Babylon
A fertile plain between two rivers
Of old, the Amorites built between the Tigris and Euphrates
A holy city for Mesopotamia
Sons of Judah did the new emperor take
Exile was their home
Virgin Mother of the Holy Child, descendant of Abraham
You’re the seal of the Covenant
When the son’s sons of Josiah the king were carried away
How could they know deliverance would come?
Daughter of Zion
You carried and suckled the Deliverer of the children of Eve
You, O’ Lily of Jerusalem
You did become the destroyer of idols
Who is it that is weeping in Babylon?
With holy Joseph to protect you
You went into exile in Egypt with the Christ child
From banishment you brought Him back to His people
A fertile Virgin, pure and graceful
The Father in Heaven chose to bless
In your body God became incarnate
The Incarnation brought us home out of bondage
The wars of men make the widow and the fatherless too soon
The sons of Judah lamented on the Fertile Crescent
Banishment was the punishment for their crimes
Destroyer of paganism, lily of Jerusalem
In concert with the will of the one God
You conquered pride and apathy with humility and love
Love for the one who rules the Universe
Love for the unbegotten Son of God whom you bore
From your life did one nature unite with another?
From you did the one true Messiah come
Out of your life the King of kings took the riches of humanity
To set free the children of Zion
From you arose the New Jerusalem
Holy Virgin Mary, your only son establishes the new heaven and the new earth
You are the tabernacle of the Most High, the holy of holies
You made a place for the Name of God to be praised forever
You direct the renewed people of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob
To the presence of the Almighty
There is weeping in Babylon
The idols of ancient times are falsely blessed anew
Many drunk on wantonness and blood
The children already delivered wander in a wilderness
Too full and noisy to be recognized as a wasteland
We shall be delivered by the mighty hand of the Lord
His right arm shall be our strength
Mother of Virtue you show us the way to conquer
We are engraved in the hand of God
No one can pluck us from the hollow of it
Blessed Mother, the fruit of your womb
The Son of God, a son of David
He makes for us a new home
With many blessed dwelling places
We shall rest beside quiet waters
“Fallen is Babylon,” He says
“Depart from her my people”
In the midst of the sanctified
There is only one worthy to receive the scroll
And to break open its seals
Mother of God
You are at the right hand of your son
Pray for us
Beckon us to the new inheritance
Of the People of God
It is now that we are exiled by our falleness
It is with you that we shall see God
Where the light never fades
And no tears of sorrow are shed
There will only be joy and peace
Icon of Redemption
Before He laid down the foundations of the Cosmos;
The Lord knew each one of us.
The one, true, and living God foresaw the one full of grace.
God the Father did know a new Eve would come into the world.
A child of good people, Joachim and Anne;
You are the fruit of a marriage both unitive and procreative.
You are the Immaculate Conception.
Because, while altogether human, sanctifying grace did you regain.
You did not die and rise with Christ crucified;
But the merit of your son’s agony and triumph was granted you when you were created.
Immaculate Mary, the Holy Spirit is in every fiber of your being.
You were and are forever without sin.
Where the favor of God reigns;
No disobedience can ever exist.
Free obedience, born from charity, is the blessing of life in Christ.
He did not think even divinity a thing to be grasped.
Like the bush burning, but not consumed;
You are there on holy ground.
There where wanderer, shepherd, and murderer comes face to face with He who is.
To the consubstantial trinity of divine persons, who with one voice say “I AM,” you guide us.
Queen of prophets and of martyrs;
True witnesses reflect you.
You are the beacon from which heavenly light from the Image of the Father shines.
The Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world is the everlasting light.
Holy Virgin Mother of God;
You are the ark of the new and everlasting Covenant.
Your son is the fulfillment of the Law and the Prophets.
It is through you that the Alpha and Omega chose to assume humanity unto Himself.
They who are one in being;
He is the source of all that is.
When we follow in your train, we see the blessed Vision of the deity, face-to-face.
Written humbly, you forever point us back to the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
“The Lady of Shalott” by Alfred, Lord Tennyson
Audio created by Robert Nichol AudioProductions London all rights reserved 2000
Submitted by: Sarah Wingo
“The Lady of Shalott” was written by Alfred, Lord Tennyson around 1832 and then published in slightly varying forms in 1833 and 1842, and is loosely based on the Arthurian legend.
I chose to share this poem because it is one of those pieces of literary cultural currency that, at least for me, crept into my general awareness at a very early age.
My first encounter with“The Lady of Shalott” was through another piece of literature altogether in Anne of Green Gables, both the book and then again in the 1980’s television mini-series starring Megan Fellows. I also have vivid memories of my father playing Loreena McKennitt’s hauntingly beautiful adaptation, which is on her 1991 album The Visit.
Later in school I would encounter Tennyson, “The Lady of Shalott,” and his other poems in a far more academic contexts, but as is often the case it is my earliest experiences with “The Lady of Shalott” that secured its place in my heart.
“‘Hope’ is the thing with feathers” by Emily Dickinson
Read by Jean Aked
Submitted by Laura Matthews
Laura Matthews is Falvey’s Library Events and Outreach specialist, and she submitted “’Hope’ is the thing with feathers,” saying,
“Although somewhat cliché, I like Emily Dickinson. It seems like she was a real legit lady that didn’t care what other people thought. I like that. My mom introduced me to this poem several years ago. I like it because hope is such a magical thing and when I read this poem it makes my heart smile.”
I too like Emily Dickinson very much, and I’m pleased to share this poem on our advent calendar.
Read by Jean Aked:
“Hope” is the thing with feathers
By Emily Dickinson
“Hope” is the thing with feathers –
That perches in the soul –
And sings the tune without the words –
And never stops – at all –
And sweetest – in the Gale – is heard –
And sore must be the storm –
That could abash the little Bird
That kept so many warm –
I’ve heard it in the chillest land –
And on the strangest Sea –
Yet – never – in Extremity,
It asked a crumb – of me.
As finals come into full swing, the Library can provide you with many places to study but also many opportunities to procrastinate. Take a break from that mountain of schoolwork. Sure you should be studying right now, but let’s not kid ourselves; this is what really happens when you open the textbook:
Here are some more productive ways to put off studying for finals as long as possible. Enjoy your break:
Falvey has a vast array of movies and TV shows that are free to check out, from new hits such as Gravity to classics like Casablanca. Re-watching the entire series of The Wire seems like a perfect excuse to stop studying. I am sure your professor will award you extra points when you explain the importance of the Battle of Gettysburg by comparing it to policing strategies in Baltimore.
Discover your family tree
Be honest: what sounds more interesting, studying for economics or finding out your ancestors were Vikings? Lucky for you the Library subscribes to Ancestry.com, which “encompasses a vast collection of genealogical data which traces the history of millions of individuals going in some cases as far back as 1300.”
Learn a new language
What if your history professor throws a curveball and writes the final in Italian? Good thing Falvey has an enormous amount of resources dedicated to help you learn foreign languages. Among the languages with guides are Spanish, Italian, French and German. Worst case scenario you can order that hard-to-pronounce pasta dish from Bertucci’s like a champ.
Around finals time many students have the feeling of too much to do and not enough time. How does your professor reasonably believe all this work can be completed unless you forgo exercise, eating and sleeping? Enter Falvey and its collection of over 2000 audio books. Having trouble finding the time to finish Pride and Prejudice? Just pick up the audio book from the Library and you will be multitasking your way to an “A” in no time.
However you study for finals, just remember to stay calm and collected. You made it to the last week of the semester, your sanity and your lack of sleep will eventually recover. Good luck and have a great break!