The Searchers

I started to write this a few years ago, when the strains and pressures of a former job and lifestyle were fresh in my mind. Thankfully this is no longer the case for me. My blood pressure is down and the ulcers are gone. I now face a new adversary, very much different yet in a way born of the same cloth, that I engage in battle.

But that is a story for another day.

I have wanted to go back to my childhood home for years. To take a day off from work and just wander around all the old places, backstreets, etc., that I used to roam, whether by bicycle or car. I had the opportunity to do so a few weeks ago but decided against it. I turn 50 in six weeks. I’m still too young to wallow in the past and search for the ghosts of youth.

Not yet. I’m still sailing on the ocean of life. Still searching.


Martin Sloan, age 36, vice-president in charge of media.

Successful in most things but not in the one effort that all men try at some time in their lives.

Trying to go home again.

And also like all men, perhaps there will be an occasion, maybe a summer night sometime, when he’ll look up from what he’s doing and listen to the distant music of a calliope and hear the voices and the laughter of the people and the places of his past.

And perhaps across his mind there will flit a little errant wish that a man might not have to become old. Never outgrow the parks and the merry-go-rounds of his youth.

And he’ll smile then too because he’ll know it is just an errant wish, some wisp of memory, not too important really.

Some laughing ghosts that cross a man’s mind.

That are a part of the twilight zone.

Walking Distance, The Twilight Zone (1959)


Some people do not have to search. They find their niche early in life and rest there, seemingly contented and resigned. They do not seem to ask much of life, sometimes they do not take it seriously. At times I envy them, but usually I do not understand them. Seldom do they understand me.

I am one of the searchers. There are, I believe, millions of us. We are not unhappy, but neither are we really content. We continue to explore life, hoping to uncover its ultimate secret. We continue to explore ourselves, hoping to understand. We like to walk along the beach, we are drawn by the ocean, taken by its power, its unceasing motion, its mystery and unspeakable beauty. We like forests and mountains, deserts and hidden rivers, and the lonely cities as well. Our sadness is as much a part of our lives as is our laughter. To share our sadness with one we love is perhaps as great a joy as we can know – unless it be to share our laughter.

We searchers are ambitious only for life itself, for everything beautiful it can provide. Most of all we love and want to be loved. We want to live in a relationship that will not impede our wandering, nor prevent our search, nor lock us in prison walls; that will take us for what little we have to give. We do not want to prove ourselves to another or compete for love.

― James Kavanaugh, There Are Men Too Gentle to Live Among Wolves (1970)

There Are Men Too Gentle to Live Among Wolves

There are men too gentle to live among wolves
Who prey upon them with IBM eyes
And sell their hearts and guts for martinis at noon.
There are men too gentle for a savage world
Who dream instead of snow and children and Halloween
And wonder if the leaves will change their color soon.

There are men too gentle to live among wolves
Who anoint them for burial with greedy claws
And murder them for a merchant’s profit and gain.
There are men too gentle for a corporate world
Who dream instead of candied apples and ferris wheels
And pause to hear the distant whistle of a train.

There are men too gentle to live among wolves
Who devour them with eager appetite and search
For other men to prey upon and suck their childhood dry.
There are men too gentle for an accountant’s world
Who dream instead of Easter eggs and fragrant grass
And search for beauty in the mystery of the sky.

There are men too gentle to live among wolves
Who toss them like a lost and wounded dove.
Such gentle men are lonely in a merchant’s world,
Unless they have a gentle one to love.


In this Season of Fireside Chronicles

[I began to write a year ago as we neared All Hallow’s Eve and All Souls Day.]

I had meant to have something written for All Hallow’s Eve and All Saints Day. Alas, I was unable to finish what I began and so they will wait until next year. I did come across the poem All Souls by Edith Wharton due to this story in Dappled Things and wanted to share it below. Her poem reminds me very much of the themes behind one of my favorite pieces of music, The Danse Macabre, by Camille Saint-Saëns.

But first a quote I found in this article by Sean Fitzpatrick that holds true for my own shelves at home.

There is a cobwebbed corner in every heart and in every library for the things that go bump in the night. Whether thrillers, shockers, or flesh-crawlers, the haunted volumes of literature and the chilling fireside chronicles are venerable indeed, and will remain beloved so long as human beings have lives to lose and souls to save.

That particular shelf holds for me books by Poe and Washington Irving. When I was younger it consisted of a lot of Stephen King’s books from Carrie to It. I haven’t read any of King’s works since around 1990 other than his non-fictional On Writing.

Author Karen Ullo writes along the same vein as Fitzpatrick does in The Spiritual Purpose of Horror Stories, part 1. Writing about this maligned and marginalized area of serious fiction, Ullo points out that:

The purpose of a horror story is to personify sin, often but not always in a supernatural form. Such stories allow us to take the part of ourselves that is the ugliest, the most malignant, the most intransigent and terrifying—the part that is already dead—and give it a shape with which we can grapple. The literary monster comes in varying degrees of embodied-ness and varying degrees of evil, ranging from Quasimodo, malformed but still capable of goodness, to the pure evil of Blatty’s demon (here she’s referring to William Blatty’s book The Exorcist). But the literary monster is always an outward projection of some part of the brokenness within our human souls. This remains true whether or not the author is a believer; it requires no religious conviction to be disgusted by the hideous deeds of which mankind, and one’s own self, are capable.

It is the nature of the literary monster to represent sin, the fallen state of man, which is a spiritual truth; therefore, it is the nature of horror stories to be vehicles for portraying spiritual struggle.

Fitzpatrick closed his article with these words:

At that time of year when nature doffs its seasonal splendor for a dress of decay, man’s mind turns to the end of his own life and those gone before him: the after-life and the supernatural mingled with the tingling fear of the unknown. During the autumn, when the world suffers a seeming death in aspects both wondrous and withering, men spy strange shapes across the moon and women tell strange stories over the fire. Paradoxically lively traditions were born that declared a need to know more about the composition of the world beyond sight. Was death a mere sleeping or the awakening from the dream, and life an agitated expectation? As their cathartically entertaining ghost stories suggest, such haunting folklore arose from the natural piety of simple folk whose thoughts were bent on the spirit of things.

The ghost story chronicles man’s understanding of himself, death itself, and the condition of the soul after death. They highlight man’s keen instincts and healthy curiosities. The tradition of the rural god, ghost, and goblin can be seen as historically rooted in a healthy, human, and even holy mentality rather than a heathen one. Tales of fear, like Washington Irving’s The Spectre Bridegroom, draw people closer, as around a life-giving fire, warding off the chill darkness reminiscent of death. The shadows thrown by flames are ominous, but they dance as well. This is the realm of ghostly escapades, haunted castles, and flitting phantoms—and it is a dance that keeps the worlds around us alive with the thrill of the unknown.

This is always a beautifully melancholy time of year for me. There’s just something about the fall. Baseball playoffs. Memories of raking leaves and burning them (when that was allowed), and driving around town with friends. At this time of year I also pull off my shelves a book by Poe, Irving, Shelley or Stoker to read some good 19th century tale of horror. This fall presents challenges as I deal with all that comes from having a son deployed overseas and the impending “big five oh” in a few short months. I pray with and for the souls in purgatory, and the Office of the Dead.

I’m planning a trip to my hometown soon, this week or the next, while we are enjoying these beautiful autumn days. My parents having moved away years ago I haven’t much reason to visit anymore. But a long-time friend who grew up across the street from me has moved back from Hong Kong with his wife to care for his elderly father, now over 90 years young, and I am drawn to visit and say hello once again to the ghosts of my past. Perhaps I’ll spy a strange shape across the moon. Maybe I’ll tell a chilling fireside chronicle. Or, perchance, I’ll dance.

But…lest you think me depressed or morbid I will point out that I’m far from those things. This is merely a part of the season of life and the cyclical calendar of the Church. And I’ll add that every day I am reminded that the light overcomes the darkness when I pray daily at Lauds the following from the Benedictus, or Canticle of Zechariah from Luke 1:68-79:

Through the bottomless mercy of our God,
one born on high will visit us
to give light to those who walk in darkness,
who live in the shadow of death;
to lead our feet in the path of peace.

Just as Death calls forth the dead at midnight once a year to dance under the moonlight until the cock crows at dawn and sends them back to their graves to sleep another year, I welcome the autumn to remind myself both where I have come from and where I am going.

And every day, no matter the season, I am reminded of the Light.

(Image source)


All Souls
By Edith Wharton

A thin moon faints in the sky o’erhead,
And dumb in the churchyard lie the dead.
Walk we not, Sweet, by garden ways,
Where the late rose hangs and the phlox delays,
But forth of the gate and down the road,
Past the church and the yews, to their dim abode.
For it’s turn of the year and All Souls’ night,
When the dead can hear and the dead have sight.

Fear not that sound like wind in the trees:
It is only their call that comes on the breeze;
Fear not the shudder that seems to pass:
It is only the tread of their feet on the grass;
Fear not the drip of the bough as you stoop:
It is only the touch of their hands that grope —
For the year’s on the turn, and it’s All Souls’ night,
When the dead can yearn and the dead can smite.

And where should a man bring his sweet to woo
But here, where such hundreds were lovers too?
Where lie the dead lips that thirst to kiss,
The empty hands that their fellows miss,
Where the maid and her lover, from sere to green,
Sleep bed by bed, with the worm between?
For it’s turn of the year and All Souls’ night,
When the dead can hear and the dead have sight.

And now that they rise and walk in the cold,
Let us warm their blood and give youth to the old.
Let them see us and hear us, and say: “Ah, thus
In the prime of the year it went with us!”
Till their lips drawn close, and so long unkist,
Forget they are mist that mingles with mist!
For the year’s on the turn, and it’s All Souls’ night,
When the dead can burn and the dead can smite.

Till they say, as they hear us — poor dead, poor dead! —
“Just an hour of this, and our age-long bed —
Just a thrill of the old remembered pains
To kindle a flame in our frozen veins,
Just a touch, and a sight, and a floating apart,
As the chill of dawn strikes each phantom heart —
For it’s turn of the year and All Souls’ night,
When the dead can hear, and the dead have sight.”

And where should the living feel alive
But here in this wan white humming hive,
As the moon wastes down, and the dawn turns cold,
And one by one they creep back to the fold?
And where should a man hold his mate and say:
“One more, one more, ere we go their way”?
For the year’s on the turn, and it’s All Souls’ night,
When the living can learn by the churchyard light.

And how should we break faith who have seen
Those dead lips plight with the mist between,
And how forget, who have seen how soon
They lie thus chambered and cold to the moon?
How scorn, how hate, how strive, we too,
Who must do so soon as those others do?
For it’s All Souls’ night, and break of the day,
And behold, with the light the dead are away.

The extended prayer of good books

Man Reading. Oil on canvas by John Singer Sargent (undated)

Man Reading. Oil on canvas (undated) by John Singer Sargent [1856-1925]

There are some books that you can’t escape. No matter how many times you pass them over after putting them on your wish list years ago they’ve managed to hang on through every purge of your list.

So finally you order them. The time is right for whatever reason and you order them.

Yesterday I received two such books. One had been on my Amazon Wish List since May of 2011. The other had actually been removed a year ago and made a return to my list this summer. This is rare. Usually it’s “down the memory hole” once purged.


portalofthemysteryofhope_bookcoverThe faith that I love the best, says God, is hope.

Thus begins Charles Péguy’s The Portal of the Mystery of Hope. One of the few poems by the French poet to be translated into English, it his masterpiece. I began to read it last night and am 30+ pages in. I confess to having been moved to tears once or twice so far. To date my favorite poems have included the likes of Dante’s Divine Comedy and Eliot’s Four Quartets and I am confident that The Portal of the Mystery of Hope will find its way onto if not atop this list. As I’ve spent much of the past two weeks praying for Fortitude, Wisdom and Hope in my own life I thought it time to order this book.

Péguy wrote Hope a few years before he was killed at the Battle of the Marne in 1914 during WWI at the age of 41.

I want to offer a summary of this poem but have yet a long way to travel. I plan on re-reading it several times however and have marked several passages to share later. I’ll just say for now that it is a narration in the voice of God the Father and is a meditation on the three virtues of Faith, Hope and Charity (Love) with Hope presented as a little girl that races ahead of her sisters Faith and Love. Many themes are covered by Péguy including fatherhood, childhood and the beauty of work.

After meeting the three sisters the poem becomes an extended meditation on fatherhood and mortality. This is the section that has connected with me the most so far. It continues for just over 20 pages and I’m including just a small section of it below:

For them, their father’s kiss is a game, an amusement, a ceremony.
A greeting.
Something taken for granted, something very good, without importance.
A simple little thing.
Something they don’t even particularly notice.
Which is as much to say.
It’s become such a habit.
It’s just something they’re owed.
Their heart is pure.
They receive it like a morsel of bread.
They play, they have fun with it like a morsel of bread.
Their father’s kiss. It’s their daily bread. If they only knew what it meant to their father.
Poor children. But that’s none of their business.
They’ll have plenty of time to learn about that later.
For now they only know, when their eyes meet their father’s gaze.
That he doesn’t seem to be enjoying himself enough.
In life.


The book that fell off my list but returned is Christopher by David Athey. Published in 2011 the book is described as follows:

Haunted by the heavenly, yet born of this earth, Chris grows toward manhood seeking to discover and become worthy of the perfect girl, but yearning even more to satisfy his God-hunger.

Page by page, mystery by mystery, adventure after adventure, and with ever-growing urgency, Christopher struggles to see the Light that is ever ancient and ever new, and finally to hear the Song that is beyond human language.

A modern love story and a quest for the Holy Grail, Christopher is a tribute to genuine love and to the Faith that shaped the best of our Western Civilization.

christopher_book coverI would sum it up as an individual’s dance with faith. I read the first one hundred pages last night before turning my bedside lamp off at 12:57am. I like that each chapter varies between 2-4 pages so that the book really seems to soar along from scene to scene. When we meet Christopher he is 11 years old, the only child of “children of the 60s” and adjusting to life on Lake Superior near Duluth, Minnesota after relocating from Sacramento, California.

Is it great literature? Probably not, and may seem an odd choice to some. But it has connected with me and brought back to mind scenes and thoughts from my own youth. In my experience with Divine Providence I’ve learned that there are reasons for events in our lives and that we don’t always discover what the reasons are. But I figure there is a reason this book kept coming back onto my radar. It has become personal. And isn’t that what all great books do on some level?

For example, this exchange between Christopher and the mother of his best friend Terra contained a truth about vocation that I needed to hear.

The band transitioned to the Chicken Dance, and the dancers responded like little kids. Chris was intrigued by the spectacle of Minnesotans flapping their arms. He noticed the growing smile on Mrs. Corwin’s face, and he said, “I’ll bet you miss your husband.”

The smile remained on the woman’s face, while her eyes grew sad. “Marriage is not a romance, Christopher. It is a sacrament. Like the priesthood.”

The boy nodded, wishing he’d kept his mouth shut.

“Do you think the priesthood is fun? It’s a sacrifice, Christopher. No matter what vocation you choose – or get called to by God – you have to give up almost everything else. Oh, don’t look at me like that. I have much joy in my life. Every vocation has its joys. Yes. And its sufferings.”

Mrs. Corwin took a big drink and gestured toward a young couple on the dance floor. “Marriage is more like a liturgy than a romance.”

As one Amazon reviewer pointed out:

Saint Augustine said, “You have made us for yourself, Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in You.” It is a catholic (universal) truth that we are all seeking God. If we don’t seek to satisfy that innate restlessness with Him, we will constantly be choosing superficial substitutions. This novel is the story of young Christopher who is in search of truth and ultimate meaning. Even at a young age, Christopher has the ability to see the presence of the holy in the natural world, yet he does not know God fully. Still, his mystical heart continues to search for true love which he must be prepared to give himself to unconditionally.

Christopher is an engaging novel that communicates the beauty and love of God. Through unique characters we see that the journey to know Him includes brokenness, loneliness and despair. It is a difficult road, but it is the only one that ultimately brings true, pure and everlasting joy.

That, in a nutshell, is why this book is resonating with me so far. And believe it or not I do see a correlation between the excerpt I placed above from Hope regarding fatherhood and the sacrifice of vocation as described in Christopher. There is much to meditate upon here.


prayer of the presence of god_book coverI rounded out my order with The Prayer of the Presence of God by a Carthusian monk named Dom Augustin Guillerand because of my continued research and interest in prayer.

The first two books have been like that. Like prayer.

It has been my experience that the books I’ve enjoyed most in this life are like extended prayers.

Lord, please help me to write my own book of prayer for someone someday.


Exit Question: Have any books connected with you as extended prayers in this way? Were there certain scenes, descriptions of nature, or characters that stood out in this way for you?

Gardening at Night

by Louise Glück

You want to know how I spend my time?
I walk the front lawn, pretending
to be weeding. You ought to know
I’m never weeding, on my knees, pulling
clumps of clover from the flower beds: in fact
I’m looking for courage, for some evidence
my life will change, though
it takes forever, checking
each clump for the symbolic
leaf, and soon the summer is ending, already
the leaves turning, always the sick trees
going first, the dying turning
brilliant yellow, while a few dark birds perform
their curfew of music. You want to see my hands?
As empty now as at the first note.
Or was the point always
to continue without a sign?


Photo credit: Enviromom

Accompanying music that “works” for me with this poem at this particular moment in time:

My Life. My Truth.

Who Am I?
by Carl Sandburg

My head knocks against the stars.
My feet are on the hilltops.
My finger-tips are in the valleys and shores of universal life.
Down in the sounding foam of primal things I reach my hands and play with pebbles of destiny.
I have been to hell and back many times.
I know all about heaven, for I have talked with God.
I dabble in the blood and guts of the terrible.
I know the passionate seizure of beauty
And the marvelous rebellion of man at all signs reading “Keep Off. ”

My name is Truth and I am the most elusive captive in the universe.


I haven’t forgotten about this blog or any of you. I’m simply in the middle of one of the busiest times in my life that I can remember.

The deck is done. We have sold our piano, donated some of our older furniture, and generally cleared out an entire wall space.

Then my wife had surgery in mid-March. Since then I’ve become one with our washer and dryer. I’ve relearned how to separate clothes. I’m a vacuuming demon. I can tell you which aisles the cereal, or coffee, or vegetables, etc. are located in two different grocery stores.

We’ve shopped for, purchased and refinished an old antique stand that has been re-purposed to hold media equipment, a television and storage.

We’ve filled the rest of the wall with new bookcases and finally liberated several volumes from boxes and basement shelves.

We’ve survived prom. We’re surviving two concurrent baseball seasons. The spring prep post-season looms on the horizon. The summer season commences soon after.

#15 in your programs...

#15 in your programs…

We’ve received invitations to and plan to attend several graduation parties over the next four weeks.

Today I ordered the main course for the looming graduation party whose invitations ordered last week, arrived today, and have begun to be addressed for delivery.

We’ve received the graduation ceremony announcements that will be mailed out as well.

graduation invite

I will be taking five days off soon in order to finish landscaping work in the backyard. These includes appointments with a tiller, sprinkler guys, and a lot of lattice, mulch and stone.

This past weekend I finished the front yard. Almost. A much needed spring rain prevented my installing the 20 foot flagpole in our front yard from which Old Glory and the Marine Corps flags shall proudly fly.

(It sounds like a lot of silly work for a graduation party, I know. But when we moved in to our house eleven years ago we actually mapped out this plan and all the work we wanted done by May 2014. We came damn close to pulling it all off.)

I’ve pulled the mangled remains of the exhaust system out from under my son’s car where it fell off a few miles from home. I shopped for a second opinion on repairs and saved $1200 because I did so. (That’s a win for me for those keeping score at home.)

At the office we’ve held almost three solid weeks of exploratory meetings involving new products and functionality.

At home I’m dad to three, husband to one and a beagle whisperer.

buster and me

I watch reruns of Castle on the weekend or new episodes on Monday nights in order to give my brain an entertainment break.

I’ve had play dates with my daughter, her dolls and her various animals. I’ve read her first self-published “book”.

A self portrait

A self portrait

mouse who liked winter

I’m at long last about to finish Kristin Lavransdatter, the greatest single character study of an individual life that I’ve read since Josip Lasta in Island of the World.

I’m just a few sections into the Summa Theologica and preparing to read Master and Commander while drinking good scotch and enjoying some much-welcomed spring and summer weather.

scotch and a book

I haven’t forgotten you. In the parlance of my profession I have simply overextended my capacity. But when I think I have no more to give, I find that I haven’t even scratched the surface yet.

Life is a glorious, busy, hectic, lovely, maddening and wonderful mess.

Gotta run. Believe it or not as soon as I hit “Publish” I’m heading across town for a ballgame.

I wouldn’t trade places with anyone.

My head knocks against the stars.

Play that funky music

We Are the Music-Makers
by Arthur William Edgar O’Shaughnessy

We are the music-makers,
And we are the dreamers of dreams,
Wandering by lone sea-breakers,
And sitting by desolate streams.
World-losers and world-forsakers,
Upon whom the pale moon gleams;
Yet we are the movers and shakers,
Of the world forever, it seems.

With wonderful deathless ditties
We build up the world’s great cities,
And out of a fabulous story
We fashion an empire’s glory:
One man with a dream, at pleasure,
Shall go forth and conquer a crown;
And three with a new song’s measure
Can trample an empire down.

We, in the ages lying
In the buried past of the earth,
Built Nineveh with our sighing,
And Babel itself with our mirth;
And o’erthrew them with prophesying
To the old of the new world’s worth;
For each age is a dream that is dying,
Or one that is coming to birth.

The moon over my backyard last fall "upon whom gleams".

Taken in my backyard last fall “upon whom the pale moon gleams”.

My life is quieter now. Deactivating Facebook for the next few weeks has helped. I normally take a break during Lent but this year decided to go away from Septuagesima Sunday on February 16th through Shrove Tuesday on March 4th. I’d been kicking around the idea for awhile and when I woke up last Sunday morning I did it first thing from my phone. Now I don’t know what the hell to do with my phone. Make calls I guess. Play solitaire.

Since I stopped blogging here on December 30th I have

  • blogged a little elsewhere.
  • took a stab at trying a few new blogs/different directions over at Blogger. I decided not to go down that path for now.
  • have been reading up a storm: books on natural law, a lot of St. Thomas Aquinas, Greek/Roman early European history as well as English history
  • have been journaling like crazy, with three of them on different subjects being penned each week.
  • became a member of the New Saint Thomas Institute and am taking courses on philosophy and theology when my schedule allows for it.
  • began to once again make it a point to pray the rosary each night before bed, typically around 10:30ish. I wrote a little about that here.
  • made my children a priority, as we wind down a senior year/final summer with one and continue to grow and discover new and fun personality traits of the other two.
  • dedicated 2014 to be a “year of listening” for me. I’ve gotten better. Need to improve much more. Have heard and learned a few things in the silence I’ve allowed.
  • decided that in the spirit of a fresh start blogging-wise I didn’t want to completely start over and instead renamed this blog. It’s mine. I can do that.

Yeah, I know. I said I was done here. And I’m not all that sure what direction this will go once I decide to dedicate some time again though I have a pretty good idea. But having looked through what I’ve left here over the course of six years I’m in no hurry to just delete it all or go dormant. I like most of what I’ve written here. I cringe when I read a lot of what I’ve written here. But I never claimed to be Shakespeare.

So I’ve changed this blog’s name. Changed the format. Will continue to play with the format.

I am, in my small way, a wanna-be music-maker. Anyone who really knows me will tell you that one of my virtues is not an ability to keep my mouth shut. As a former trombone player and pounder of my little brother’s drum kit I have never been one to be quiet about my music. I’ll hit sour notes now and then, be out of tune or miss a beat…but I still want to play.

Even if my form of playing is simply making a few mere observations.

Straining gnats

There was a time when we said “to each his own.” Or “you have a right to your opinion.” Or “we agree to disagree.”

But not now. Those times are gone. I wonder if we’ll look back and long for a return to the days before the times of The Perpetually Outraged About Something Or Other. The days before we looked for or manufactured grievances that led to an outrage and then the inevitable counter-outrage, both sides creating memes and images and endless Facebook or Twitter updates to display how outraged they are or support those who are outraged themselves.

What a waste of precious Time and Life and Gifts given by God.

In The Resurrection of Rome G.K. Chesterton said “It is the root of all religion that a man knows that he is nothing in order to thank God that he is something.”

Today’s man throws the weight of religion from his shoulders like a worn sweatshirt on a hot summer’s day because he thinks, no matter how contrarian, absurd or inane his outrage, he is something to be tolerated and stomps his feet and beats his fists in an epic tantrum in order to get his way.

“Tolerance” said Aristotle, “is the last virtue of a dying society.” History shows that it is often the vice that kills society as well.

I wonder…

Will we ever grow up?

Some of us call it it opinion.

Others call it diversity.

I thought those were good things.



Each In His Own Tongue
by William Herbert Carruth (1859-1924)

A fire-mist and a planet,–
A crystal and a cell,–
A jelly-fish and a saurian,
And caves where the cave-men dwell;
Then a sense of law and beauty,
And a face turned from the clod,–
Some call it Evolution,
And others call it God.

A haze on the far horizon,
The infinite, tender sky,
The ripe, rich tint of the cornfields,
And the wild geese sailing high,–
And all over the upland and lowland
The charm of the goldenrod,–
Some of us call it Autumn,
And others call it God.

Like tides on a crescent sea-beach,
When the moon is new and thin,
Into our hearts high yearnings
Come welling and surging in,–
Come from the mystic ocean
Whose rim no foot has trod,–
Some of us call it longing,
And others call it God.

A picket frozen on duty,–
A mother starved for her brood,–
Socrates drinking the hemlock,
And Jesus on the rood;
And millions who, humble and nameless,
The straight, hard pathways plod,–
Some call it Consecration,
And others call it God.


“Each in His Own Tongue” is reprinted from The Little Book of American Poets. Ed. Jessie B. Rittenhouse. Cambridge: The Riverside Press, 1915.

*Straining gnats taken from Matthew 23:24