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Journey of Faith

Poems from ReSource magazine

I saw him standing

Under the dark trees, there he stands,
there he stands; shall he not draw my eyes?
I thought I knew a little
how he compels, beyond all things, but now
he stands there in the shadows. It will be
Oh, such a daybreak, such bright morning,
when 1 shall wake to see him as he is.

He is called Rose of Sharon, for his skin
is clear; his skin is flushed with blood,
his body lovely and exact; how he compels
beyond ten thousand rivals. There he stands
my friend, the friend of guilt and helplessness,
To steer my hollow body over the sea.

The earth is full of masks and fetishes,
What is there here for me?Are these like him?
Keep company with him and you will know:
no kin, no likeness to those empty eyes.
He is a stranger to them all, great Jesus.
What is there here for me?
I know what I have longed for. Him to hold
me always.

Translated by Rowan Williams from Yr Arglwydd lesu, a poem by Ann Griffiths (1776— 1805). From ‘Poems by Rowan Williams’, Perpetua Press, Oxford.


The colour of Easter

It's all very well to talk of spring
Of April showers
Of the mating song
Of birds
Or say, we’ve heard the first cuckoo call
It's all very well to walk near mountain streams
Which ripple over smooth worn stones
And wander where the primrose flower
Rings the bole of woodland oak
In some quiet glade
It’s all very well to talk of pastel shades
Of vernal green
Decked in glory at an English Easter time.

To my mind
We ought to think of feet
Talk of what it’s like
To walk
Over sharp dry rock
Where the scorpion’s found
With its poised arched back
Where the sand will scratch
Between the toes
Where the clothes rub sore with sweat

This is what Christ must have known
No air-conditioned home
No lawn
Please keep off my grass
His was a hard life and raw
It didn’t call for pastel shades
But colours deep and dark as blood.

Fred Russell is a countryman who has lived all his life in Ascott-under-Wychwood, Oxfordshire. This poem is taken from Tongue Pie, an anthology of his prose and poetry, published by The Charlbury Press.


Journey

In a village by the sea, with painted beach huts
I stood and waited, not knowing who would come, or why.
The village was my childhood, and the sun rose high
over the marshes. Harriers hunted, a bittern boomed,
fishing nets and glass floats decked the church
where the future unfurled its misty wings.
I left the sea behind and travelled overland;
libraries bestowed degrees, and marriage children
the passing of the years, maturity
but as I return to walk along the pebbled shore
a carnelian glows amongst the other stones
never previously noticed, but gathered now as mine.
The sea ebbs and flows, unfolds my life’s design.

Alison Morgan is author of The Wild Gospel, and on the staff of ReSource


High Places

Each step an argument with incline, poise
and spring, trudge dusty gravel, wedge
and stretch in granite angle, reach
from the tension of thin finger, probe
a pause, then haul onto next hold.

Jot the climb down from turf ramps in
the valley and cleft scramble to
the gradual track, a single sheen of
water, coating of grey stone over
minuet of pools. Leave green for rock
carved track for the growling scramble over boulder.

Summit. Not so much the roof as
ridge tiles of England. Everything’s belowfraction
of lake, baldness of summits
with their climbers’ stubble, small ferreting
aircraft seeks to award perspective.

Someone calls for a ring. They stand facing
inwards. On the wind an overhearing prayer
for the whole county, its people, a safe descent.
Scree trickles away under boots as they drop
out of view. There is this tradition, one explains
of praying in high places, among powers of the air.

Martyn Halsall is Communications Adviser to the Blackburn diocese and Poetry Editor of Third Way. He also took this photograph of Scafell Pike.


What's Left
(for Peter Hennessy)

I used to wait for the flowers,
my pleasure reposed on them.
Now I like plants before they get to the blossom.
Leafy ones — foxgloves, comfrey, delphiniums —
fleshy tiers of strong leaves pushing up
into air grown daily lighter and more sheened
with bright dust like the eyeshadow
that tall young woman in the bookshop wears,
its shimmer and crumble on her white lids.

The washing sways on the line, the sparrows pull
at the heaps of drying weeds that I’ve left around.
Perhaps this is middle age. Untidy, unfinished,
knowing there’ll never be time now to finish,
liking the plants — their strong lives —
not caring about flowers, sitting in weeds
to write things down, look at things,
watching the sway of shirts on the line,
the cloth filtering light.

I know more or less
how to live through my life now.
But I want to know how to live what’s left
with my eyes open and my hands open;
I want to stand at the door in the rain
listening, sniffing, gaping.
Fearful and joyous,
like an idiot before God.

Kerry Hardie, from ‘Being Alive’, edited by Neil Astley, Bloodaxe Books 2004


Iona snapshot

This little boat
moored to its bobbing orange on a shiny sea
centres the frame. Above, a strip of blue
then sand, dark white, that crumbles in my hand
like couscous. Green then, where the sheep graze and then my feet
steadying my body as I take the shot.

It is safe here and we have safely swum
always in sight, beyond our narrow bay,
of a great water, hearing always too
bird cries that thrill us, though bird busyness
has no play with us swimmers and our thoughts.

It is the interior that terrifies,
these tiny hills benign with flocks
create a pressure, the heat is too intense
the sky too blue and we can hardly breathe.

Here’s the confusion of the inland path
where the knots tighten, roots as thick as arms
make our feet trip, sly creepers
wrap necks and ankles in a stranglehold.

Only when we have found our bay again
do we breathe easier. Seeing the boat
orders interior space, the long
fingers of sand dig in the dampening beach
for the necessary cold, the sharp
cry of the gulls remind us of His call.

Ann Pilling writes for both children and adults. She also writes poetry and in 2005 she was a runner-up in the Yorkshire Open Poetry Competition.


The Road not Taken

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that, the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black,
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back,

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I —
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

Robert Frost, Selected Poems, Penguin 1973


ReSource magazine includes work by both new and established poets.