Friday of the Sixth Week of Easter
When a woman is in labor, she is in anguish because her hour has arrived; but when she has given birth to a child, she no longer remembers the pain because of her joy that a child has been born into the world.
So you also are now in anguish.
But I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy away from you.
I wrote the following poem several years ago, around the feast of the Ascension.
It's written in the form of a pantoum, a very complicated, difficult and strict form. It begins with verses from today's responsorial psalm. (My poem bends the rules severely.)
You may want to read it outloud, and more than once, to pick up the rhythm and melody, and its joy.
A pantoum is composed of four-line stanzas, and is of any length. It's rhyming is abab in each stanza. In the second stanza, the first and third lines duplicate the second and fourth lines of the first stanza. The same pattern flows into the third stanza, with the 1st and 3rd lines duplicating the 2nd and 4th lines of the second stanza.
But there should be some kind of meaning or sense in the flow of these lines. It helps if the same words and phrases have different meanings. This can happen when a noun becomes a verb, for instance; or a verb, a noun. Or the word spelt the same might be pronounced differently (a heteronym), e.g, produce vs. produce. Homonyms and homophones are legal.
Finally, the 2nd and 4th lines of the last stanza duplicate the 1st and 3rd lines of the first stanza, but in reverse order. Thus the first line of the poem is also the last line.
Or the poet might alter the line a bit, as I have done, violating the laws for the sake of making sense.
I'd like to think this poem evokes, for the poet and the reader, the agony of creative labor and the satisfaction that Saint John evokes in today's gospel:
The Lord ascends to shouts of joy,
A blare of trumpets for the child
Whose coming the powers-that-be annoys;
He’s far too pleasant, far too mild
And trumpets blaring for the child
Will shatter windows, tumble walls
As pleasant springtime airs and mild
Invade our cubicles and stalls
Reopen shuttered airless halls
To free our mind and open eyes
The silly cubicles and stalls
That tried so hard to hide our lies,
To keep our minds and blind our eyes
Evaporate before the boy
Who tries the harshest, hidden lies
And dumps them like discarded toys.
Elaborate before the boy
The nation's proud display their deeds;
He dumps them like discarded toys
He turns instead to find the seeds
The nations' proud despised as weeds
His father planted years ago
He means to find and tend the needs
Of all who suffer lives of woe.
His father planted years ago
A garden rich with all delight
And those who suffer lives of woe
Will never need to take to flight
From gardens rich with all delight.
The powers-that-were no more annoy
And humble folks need not take flight
As God descends to shouts of joy.