Mirror of Justice

A blog dedicated to the development of Catholic legal theory.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

More Poetry for Pope Francis

Here's my contribution to this virtual poetry-slam:  the poem that I reached for after watching the announcement with some of my colleagues in the faculty lounge here at UST Law.  It was published sometime in the last year or so in First Things, but I only have the xerox of it I keep by my desk -- it doesn't have the cite. 

As the mother of 2 young adults who seem destined to choose careers that will not offer financial security (one who is now training to be a Catholic school teacher with ND's ACE program, and another seriously studying to be a Hollywood screenwriter whose work reflects the values of his faith), this one speaks to me. 

St. Clare of Assisi


Her parents tired of locking her up

before she tired of running away.

Love mocks the locksmith, and love

drove her on till the convent walls

closed around her strong as a castle,

and poverty made her as safe

as wealth makes a queen.


Francis the merchant’s son

should have died in the streets of Assisi

known as the local beggar, Crazy Old Frank.

Who knew that young men would flock to him,

poverty-mad, throwing away their future

to live this way?  And Clare after him—

luring a princess from Hungary

to case aside royalty and wealth for a winter

heated by no fire but love.


Could it happen again?  Parents hope not.

Children should make (and be) good investments,

while faith and fanatics are out of fashion.

But all it takes is a whisper, a change in the wind,

a trick of the light,

for the sleeping coal to flare up

and sons and daughters come running,

scattering fellowships, law school,

the Army, the arts, their engagements,

brimming with glorious news for their families:

“I’m begging!  Isn’t it wonderful?”


-- Gail White


Schiltz, Elizabeth | Permalink


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From the Jesuit martyr St. Robert Southwell:


WHERE wards are weak and foes encount'ring strong,
Where mightier do assault than do defend,
The feebler part puts up enforcèd wrong,
And silent sees that speech could not amend.
Yet higher powers must think, though they repine,
When sun is set, the little stars will shine.

While pike doth range the seely tench doth fly,
And crouch in privy creeks with smaller fish ;
Yet pikes are caught when little fish go by,
These fleet afloat while those do fill the dish.
There is a time even for the worm to creep,
And suck the dew while all her foes do sleep.

The merlin cannot ever soar on high,
Nor greedy greyhound still pursue the chase ;
The tender lark will find a time to fly,
And fearful hare to run a quiet race :
He that high growth on cedars did bestow,
Gave also lowly mushrumps leave to grow.

In Aman's pomp poor Mardocheus wept,
Yet God did turn his fate upon his foe ;
The lazar pined while Dives' feast was kept,
Yet he to heaven, to Hell did Dives go.
We trample grass, and prize the flowers of May,
Yet grass is green when flowers do fade away.

- Robert Southwell, S.J., from Saint Peter's Complaint, with other Poems, 1595

Posted by: dfb | Mar 14, 2013 10:52:03 AM