Sunday, January 19, 2014

Lord, the Roman hyacinths are blooming in bowls and
The winter sun creeps by the snow hills;
The stubborn season has made stand.
My life is light, waiting for the death wind,
Like a feather on the back of my hand.
Dust in sunlight and memory in corners
Wait for the wind that chills towards the dead land.

Grant us thy peace.
I have walked many years in this city,
Kept faith and fast, provided for the poor,
Have taken and given honour and ease.
There went never any rejected from my door.

Who shall remember my house, where shall live my children’s children
When the time of sorrow is come?
They will take to the goat’s path, and the fox’s home,
Fleeing from the foreign faces and the foreign swords.

Before the time of cords and scourges and lamentation
Grant us thy peace.
Before the stations of the mountain of desolation,
Before the certain hour of maternal sorrow,
Now at this birth season of decease,
Let the Infant, the still unspeaking and unspoken Word,
Grant Israel’s consolation
To one who has eighty years and no to-morrow.

According to thy word,
They shall praise Thee and suffer in every generation
With glory and derision,
Light upon light, mounting the saints’ stair.
Not for me the martyrdom, the ecstasy of thought and prayer,
Not for me the ultimate vision.
Grant me thy peace.
(And a sword shall pierce thy heart,
Thine also).
I am tired with my own life and the lives of those after me,
I am dying in my own death and the deaths of those after me.
Let thy servant depart,
Having seen thy salvation.

A Song for Simeon by T.S. Eliot

"A Song for Simeon" is a 37-line poem written in 1928 by American-English poet T. S. Eliot (1888–1965). It is one of five poems that Eliot contributed to the Ariel poems series of 38 pamphlets by several authors published by Faber and Gwyer. "A Song for Simeon" was the sixteenth in the series and included an illustration by avant garde artist Edward McKnight Kauffer. The poems, including "A Song for Simeon", were later published in both the 1936 and 1963 editions of Eliot's collected poems. In the previous year, Eliot had converted to Anglo-Catholicism and his poetry, starting with the Ariel Poems (1927–31) and Ash Wednesday (1930), took on a decidedly religious character. The poem is seen by many critics and scholars as a discussion of the conversion experience. In the poem, Eliot retells the story of Simeon from the second chapter of the Gospel of Luke, a just and devout Jew who encounters Mary, Joseph and the infant Jesus entering the Temple of Jerusalem. Promised by the Holy Ghost that he would not die until he had seen the Saviour, Simeon sees in the infant Jesus the Messiah promised by the Lord and asks God to permit him to "depart in peace" (Luke 2:25–35). The poem's narrative echoes the text of the Nunc dimittis, a liturgical prayer for Compline derived from the Gospel passage. Eliot introduces literary allusions to earlier writers Lancelot Andrewes, Dante Alighieri and St. John of the Cross. Several critics have debated whether Eliot's depiction of Simeon is a negative portrayal of a Jewish figure and evidence of anti-Semitism on Eliot's part.

Irish priest Patrick Comerford on Nunc Dimittis in TS Eliot’s ‘A Song for Simeon’ HERE.

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