Sunday, September 26, 2010

Let There Be Brokenness

A Milkweed

Anonymous as cherubs
Over the crib of God,
White seeds are floating
Out of my burst pod.
What power had I
Before I learned to yield?
Shatter me, great wind:
I shall possess the field.
From "Two Voices in a Meadow"by Richard Wilbur1

Richard Wilbur combines simplicity with fluency to produce some of the most profound poetry in the English language. This voice (the other one is a stone) reminds us of the power of yielding our will to the greater will. Wilbur doesn't capitalize great wind, but I can't help reading it that way: Shatter me, Great Wind. It is in the choir with Donne's Batter my heart, three-person'd God. The choir master is: My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness. 2 Cor 12:9.

Let us pray for the strength to be weak. Shatter me, Great Wind.

Here's Donne's great Holy Sonnet XIV:

Batter my heart, three-person'd God ; for you
As yet but knock ; breathe, shine, and seek to mend ;
That I may rise, and stand, o'erthrow me, and bend
Your force, to break, blow, burn, and make me new.
I, like an usurp'd town, to another due,
Labour to admit you, but O, to no end.
Reason, your viceroy in me, me should defend,
But is captived, and proves weak or untrue.
Yet dearly I love you, and would be loved fain,
But am betroth'd unto your enemy ;
Divorce me, untie, or break that knot again,
Take me to you, imprison me, for I,
Except you enthrall me, never shall be free,
Nor ever chaste, except you ravish me. 2

1 Wilbur, Richard, Collected Poems 1943-2004, New York, Harcourt, Inc. 2004, 257
Donne, John. Poems of John Donne. vol I. E. K. Chambers, ed.London: Lawrence & Bullen, 1896. 165.

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