Category Archives: Literature and Poetry

Category: Literature and Poetry


Waugh on Kipling and Mexico

In March of 1964, two years before he was himself to die on Easter Sunday of 1966 (10 April), Evelyn Waugh wrote a moving review of two books touching upon the poet Rudyard Kipling, who had died in January of 1936, only six months before G.K. Chesterton himself, on 14 June 1936. When treating of “the heart of Kipling’s character,” Waugh was also to speak … More →

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Reconquest Episode 28. Saint Robert Southwell: The Truth, the Beauty, and the Gore. Guest: Charles Coulombe

For my next Reconquest, I will be joined by Charles Coulombe. Charles and I will discuss “Saint Robert Southwell: The Truth, the Beauty, and the Gore.” Topics will include a brief biological sketch of the missionary-martyr-poet, the purpose of his poetry, and some of that poetry itself. His was an amazing career as a hunted missionary who not only exercised a priestly, sacramental mission among the … More →

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Advent Hymn: Drop Your Dew, Ye Clouds of Heaven

While I’m on the subject of Advent hymns, here is one written by Michael Denis in 1774 (the music that goes with is was probably written by Michael Haydn). The text is drawn from Holy Scripture, Old and New Testaments: Isaias 45,8; St. Paul to the Hebrews 10,9; St. Luke 1; and St. Paul to the Romans 13, 11-14. Drop Your Dew, Ye Clouds of … More →

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Maria Walks Amid the Thorn

Here is one of our favorite Advent hymns. It is sung in two parts, one of which is a haunting counterpoint. The carol comes from sixteenth century Germany (although it is probably much older) and commemorates the barrenness of the the Old Testament, the longing and waiting, and the flowering of sanctity and joy with the coming of the Messias. (“Kyrie eleison” is Greek for … More →

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Bella Mercedes (May 14, 2013 – August 5, 2013)

O Beauty’s mercy, Mercy’s beauty sweet, A ray of light from God our Father’s dawn: So brief your stay, so soon was your retreat; O Bella! O Mercedes! Now you’re gone. The man who sired you grieves his Beauty’s loss, While she who birthed you does her Mercy mourn; They gave you life and you gave them a Cross. And tears and pains and sorrows … More →

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Evelyn Waugh’s The Loved One

While recently re-reading—after almost forty-five years—Evelyn Waugh’s The Loved One, his piercing 1948 novel set in the United States—in Southern California, in and around Los Angeles and Hollywood—I gratefully came to realize for the first time the deep and purifying pathos artfully expressed in that often disturbing, but carefully nuanced, text—especially when one also becomes gradually aware of what is missing. For, there are certain … More →

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‘The Bells of Nagasaki’ by Catholic Convert Nagai Takashi “Comforting, cheering, the bells of Nagasaki ring!” The song “The Bells of Nagasaki,” sung by Fujiyama Ichirō, was a tremendous hit in 1949, not long after the end of World War II. This year, 2015, marks the seventieth anniversary of the atomic bombing of Nagasaki on August 9, 1945. That event cannot be discussed without mention of the radiologist Nagai Takashi, who wrote many … More →

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An Invitation to The Modern Traveller (1898): Hilaire Belloc’s Satirical and Youthful Narrative Verse

If we would want to appreciate the comic genius of Hilaire Belloc, and especially the inimitable comic cadence and comic syntax which mark and unmistakably pervade his 1898 narrative verse satire, The Modern Traveller, we should first consider the larger structure of his work and the nature of his boastful and mendacious narrative persona, Mr. Rooter. For, Rooter is the only survivor of the three … More →

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Longfellow and the Faith

And in despair I bowed my head “There is no peace on earth,” I said, “For hate is strong and mocks the song Of peace on earth, good will to men.” Then pealed the bells more loud and deep: “God is not dead, nor doth He sleep; The wrong shall fail, the right prevail With peace on earth, good will to men.” These lines of … More →

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Dostoievsky’s Prince Myshkin, “The Idiot”

After reading together with my wife last night our Austrian friend Friedrich Romig’s carefully crafted and profound review of a 2013 book in German by Botho Strauss, we even started to consider, in light of Dostoievsky’s presentation of Prince Myshkin, a rather unexpected theme, namely (in my wife’s own words) “holiness as counterrevolution.” We also then continued—though it was very late in the evening—to talk … More →

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Espying Salvation

As Moses lifted up the cross on high With brazen serpent ’round its frame entwined So was the Son of Man ‘twixt earth and sky On Holy Rood fix’d fast for men to mind. To smitten Hebrews Moses gave the cure, That they who looked thereon would healéd be. But Jhesu with His Flesh made off’ring pure, Gained grace and pardon for humanity. “If I … More →

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Whenever the bright blue nails would drop Down on the floor of his carpenter shop, Saint Joseph, prince of carpenter men, Would stoop to gather them up again; For he feared for two little sandals sweet, And very easy to pierce they were As they pattered over the lumber there And rode on two little sacred feet. But alas, on a hill between Earth and … More →

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The Feckless Fathers

As feckless fathers watch the game Their wives attempt to be the men. But woman’s heart and woman’s frame Cannot be truly masculine. As feckless fathers say the Mass, From ministers in mini-skirts Epistle sounds, Communions pass To hapless boys in concert shirts. The feckless fathers like TV Where Family Guy and Homer S, Their patrons, show them how to be And school them well … More →

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The Disadvantages of Comfort

When an inspiring Scottish friend recently teased me with a trenchant quote from John Henry Newman’s sermon, entitled “Religious Cowardice,” I deployed my resourcefulness promptly to find, if I could, the entire homily and to read it. Gratefully, I did. It is to be found in the second volume of his eight-volume collection of Anglican Sermons over the years 1834-1843, and it was originally delivered … More →

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Bishop Conley’s Reflections on the Educator John Senior

“Wonder is the beginning of knowledge,” said Professor John Senior, “the reverent fear that beauty strikes within us.” Professor Senior built his life around wonder – he reveled in the mysteries of this universe, and in the Mystery – that of God himself – to which our world points. Professor Senior believed that if each of us took the opportunity to really look at the … More →

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