by heart

How many things do I know by heart?  The alphabet.  My babies’ names.  My address when in sixth grade (319 Birdsong Lane).  This poem by Henry Vaughn~

  Awake, glad heart! Get up and sing,

It is the Birth Day of thy King!

Awake, awake!

The Sun doth shake

Light from his locks and all the way

Breathing perfumes, doth spice the day!

Awake!  Hark how the woods ring!

Winds whisper and the busy springs

A consort make.

Awake, awake!

Man is their high priest and should rise

To offer up the sacrifice.

I would I were some bird or star

Fluttering through woods or lifted far

Above this inn

And roar of sin,

Then either star or bird would be

Shining or singing still to thee.

Because these words have taken root in my heart, they will often rise unbidden, tripping over my tongue when my heart lifts, shining or singing.

I have learned lately though that the poem I know lacks two concluding stanzas and that the words of the third stanza are properly “road of sin” not “roar of sin.”

But.  How flat that “road.”  How much better “roar”  — the hubbub and carouse of that saloon out on the border where we lose so much of our time.  My heart cannot assent to giving up the “roar of sin” —

Which is why Vaughn goes on without me, for I cannot agree whole-heartedly to his prayer to have his stable cleansed, knowing what I do of the fecundity in good manure for the most beautiful flowering:

I would I had in my best part

Fit rooms for thee!  Or that my heart

Were so clean as

Thy manger was.

But I am all filth, and obscene,

Yet, if thou wilt, thou canst make clean.

Sweet Jesu! will then.  Let no more

This leper haunt and soil Thy door!

Cure him, ease him,

O release him!

And let once more, by mystic birth,

The Lord of life be born in earth.

I cannot pretend there is no good in any earthly thing.  I cannot wish for sterility in the place of vitality.  I cannot turn my back like Vaughan does on that lion-like Sun shaking a mighty mane, breathing fragrant life into the waking world.  Instead of striding out to meet that Day, Vaughn strings up the danger line right at the border, denying any entry into that ringing wood.

Danger?  My stubborn heart goes on warbling what I will, what I would, how I want to be a bird.  Or a star.

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3 thoughts on “by heart

  1. curious, do you still own and ride the Dutch bike OR did you end up finding it too heavy, hard to get up hills, etc? Curious as i don’t see the love for them people had in 2009 now that its 2014

    • I still ride and love my Dutch bike for riding around town, running errands and wearing skirts and nicer clothes. I ride it most weeks. In the summer, I use a Long Haul Trucker for biking trips because it is lighter. But it’s nothing like as comfortable as my Oma.

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