Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Wherein Unconcern Laughs Divine

'Tis the Feast of the Corn
by Paul Verlaine
tr. by Gertrude Hall


'Tis the feast of corn, 'tis the feast of bread,
On the dear scene returned to, witnessed again!
So white is the light o'er the reapers shed
Their shadows fall pink on the level grain.

The stalked gold drops to the whistling flight
Of the scythes, whose lightning dives deep, leaps clear;
The plain, labor-strewn to the confines of sight,
Changes face at each instant, gay and severe.

All pants, all is effort and toil 'neath the sun,
The stolid old sun, tranquil ripener of wheat,
Who works o'er our haste imperturbably on
To swell the green grape yon, turning it sweet.

Work on, faithful sun, for the bread and the wine,
Feed man with the milk of the earth, and bestow
The frank glass wherein unconcern laughs divine,—
Ye harvesters, vintagers, work on, aglow!

For from the flour's fairest, and from the vine's best,
Fruit of man's strength spread to earth's uttermost,
God gathers and reaps, to His purposes blest,
The Flesh and the Blood for the chalice and host!

Aaron Taylor has a nice article on sin in the life of the Church:

If we tried translating Verlaine’s spiritual writing into the language of accompaniment and integration, we would be exchanging great religious art (in contemplating which we understand something vital about the human condition) for soulless bureaucratic jargon.

The disappearance of the Verlaine-style “bad Catholic” from the contemporary Catholic landscape is not a sign that everyone became holy in the 1970s. It is a serious impoverishment. Those who are forgiven little, love little. Sin is ugly, but it is part of the moral economy that makes grace intelligible. Without it, the narrative of salvation history looks somewhat ridiculous, for what do we need saving from? There can be something beautiful about the life of someone who genuinely struggles with sin instead of making excuses, and beauty is indicative of truth.

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