The Witness of the Walls


A thousand years of history, ingrained in walls of panelled wood:
A just king’s wise pronouncements, a tyrant’s fickle moods,
Power lawlessly unleash against today’s appointed foe,
Or turn the wheels of justice that grind sure but very slow?

Kick a problem down the road for someone else to solve,
Or build an institution with clear eyes and firm resolve?
To lash out at an insult in rage at wounded pride,
Or keep your head and keep the chance to win hearts to your side?

Each day every one of us can be wise or a fool,
To build up, guard or tear down the little patch we rule,
For each of us has influence, though it may not seem like much;
We all have no idea how many souls we touch.

The ripples that our acts send out can grow to mighty waves
That bring a kingdom crashing down or hordes of lost souls save,
So guard your heart and watch your tongue, act with strength and grace,
Until that day when all is done and we will see His face.

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A Call Upon the Spirit

As the new year approaches, I am posting my entry to this year’s contest of the Society of Classical Poets, on their chosen themes of an open letter to the Library of Congress to restore the recognition of rhymed verse, warning against the dangers of socialism and defending the importance of beauty in art. A Call Upon the Spirit

There’s a call upon the spirit
Of the people of this land,
Each time their freedom’s threatened,
To lift their heads and stand

To fight against the tyrant,
And bring his hubris low;
To show we will not follow
Down the path he wants to go.

The siren song of envy,
That socialists employ,
Lures weak minds down the path of death
And robs the world of joy.

Sculpted, metered, rhyming verse
Is looked at with a sneer;
Higher thoughts and beauty
Are made to disappear.

Pure filth is praised as artistry,
Pure lies as brave and good,
‘Til every conscience has shut down
And every heart craves blood.

They long to lunge in lockstep
To skewer noble hearts;
Their violence always ‘justified’
Because it’s just the start

Of a new utopia
That never quite arrives;
So carry on the slaughter,
Who knows? You might survive.

Dehumanizing spitefulness
Takes its taxing toll;
People are God’s handiwork,
Not worthless lumps of coal

For feeding hellish fires on earth
To get your petty way;
Don’t gloat about such victories,
For soon will come the day

When the truth is known and all
Those plans have come to naught,
There won’t be any refunds
For the people that you bought.

Higher ways are open
To all those with eyes to see;
A glimpse of heaven has the power
To set your spirit free

To echo heroes from the past,
From their examples learn;
The greatest future you can make
Is one that you have earned;

To dig down to the bedrock
Of age-old, solid truth,
With which we can inspire all
The flower of our youth,

That they might stand amidst the storm,
Protect the weak and frail;
See through the lies of bullies,
Recover when they fail,

Regain their feet when worlds collapse,
Rebuild a nation strong,
Withstand temptations to conform
To simply get along.

Restore the place of worthy verse
With cadence and with rhyme;
Inspiring common man to be
A hero for all time.

No convoluted bitter fog
To cause the young dismay,
But clear and hopeful, noble light
To help you find your way.

Instead of sordid clumps of woes,
A city on a hill
With towers tall and solid walls
And bright lights burning still.

Inviting all and sundry
To be all that they can be,
And emulate the gentlefolk
Who faced their destiny

With open eyes and hearts aflame,
Bruised and yet unbowed;
Despite their fears down through the years
They did declare aloud,

“The lessons of our history
Will no more be ignored;
The shrieks of mobs and demagogues
Will not undo the law.

Rise up in love and brotherhood
To face the shameless foe
Who advocates for squalor
And loves to pigeonhole

Each man into a rabid tribe
To which he must conform,
Reciting every shibboleth
And joining every swarm

Of violence and hatred of
Today’s appointed prey
For having the audacity
To think and hope and pray.

Beauty, faith and reason
Will guide us on our way
Towards the new horizon
Of bright eternal day.

Priceless Day Redux

Priceless Day

Beyond all hopes, beyond all dreams,
Beyond all human plots and schemes
To cure the ills that plague mankind,
The bonds that hold the weak unbind,

The wisdom of the world surpass,
To show the lost the way at last.
To shame the mighty and the strong
And show the proud where they went wrong.

To open up the narrow door
That leads to love for evermore;
All this through a baby’s birth
To reclaim corrupted Earth.

The fullness of divinity
Combined with full humanity
To be the Way, the price to pay
With unforeseen humility.

No eye had seen, no ear had heard
The mighty and incarnate Word
That cried our tears, that felt our pain,
So we could all be whole again.

The greatest enemy of all
Saw this would lead to his great fall;
He tried to tempt, to spoil, destroy,
But could not taint our source of joy.

At last That Day had come.

Den nad každý jiný

Nad pouhé splnění snů a nadějí,
Všelikých lidských plánů a idejí,
k nemocí všech lidí vyléčení,
okovů rozbití, odemčení,

aby se moudří poučili,
našli se ti, kteří zabloudili,
silných a mocných k zahabení,
omylů pyšných k vyjevení,

otevřít dveře úzké a těsné,
co k lásce bezpečně dovedou věčné
– to vše se naplní v dítěti malém
a jeho království nebývalém.

Dvojí se spojilo v jediném slově:
naplno Bůh a naplno člověk.
Ukázat cestu a zaplatit cenu,
s pokorou neznámou přichází k tobě.

Nelze se nedivit opět a znova
do lidství vtělení mocného Slova.
Cítil tvé bolesti, plakal mé slzy,
aby nás obnovil cele a brzy.

Nepřítel, ten, co má temnoty vládu,
poznal, že směřuje k velkému pádu.
Svádět se pokoušel, ničil a šálil,
radosti zdroj však nezakalil.

Tak konečně vzešel ten den.

Gold Sunday Redux

Today is the final Sunday of Advent, Gold Sunday, here is the English poem followed by the Czech.

Gold Sunday

From mighty Babylon of old,
Through furnaces and statues gold,
Endured a voice that prophesied
Great future empires’ fall and rise

And then a rock to dwarf them all,
Arising from a land so small,
Its people cling to trembling hope
In more than just a horoscope.

The age is nigh, the world expects
A noble, mighty architect
Of change unique in history,
An end to Israel’s misery,

And soon That Day will come.


Zlatá neděle

Babylon vladařem poražených,
zlatých soch i pecí rozpálených –
přesto hlas prorocký zaznívá z výše:
Povstanou, padnou veliké říše.

A potom kámen na říše padne
ze země malé, nenápadné,
jejíž lid naděje v duši má stopu
lepší, než najdete v horoskopu.

Nazrála doba, svět vyhlíží cele
slavného, mocného hybatele
dějinné změny, jíž podobné není,
on sejme z Jákoba porobení.

A brzy již vzejde ten den.

Silver Sunday Redux

Today is the third Sunday of Advent, here is today’s poem, again the Czech follows the English:

 


Silver Sunday

Bags of silver coins change hands
For human lives from distant lands:
Some caught in war, some caught at crime,
Some could not pay their debts in time.

With chains on their bruised feet and hands,
Worth thirty silver to a man;
Some foolishly still dare to dream
That they could one day be redeemed.

But soon That Day will come.


Stříbrná neděle

Za mince stříbrné ve váčku z kůže,
ten, kdo chce, člověka koupit si může.
Válka či zločin, stihly je lapit,
některé neschopnost dluhy včas splatit.

Ruce I kotníky sedřené pouty,
kus můžeš za třicet stříbrných koupit.
Někteří snívají bláznivé snění,
že přijde den vykoupení.

Však brzy již vzejde ten den.

Bronze Sunday Redux

Today is the second Sunday of Advent, here is the English and Czech of the Second Sunday poem

Bronze Sunday

Bronze shields and spears arranged in ranks
To form the fearsome Greek phalanx
Conquered nations far and wide;
Now there’s a new source of Greek pride:

Bold theories and insightful thoughts
That they debate in marble courts.
“Whose wisdom can outshine our own
Or that of our great pantheon?”

Twixt oracles and temples grand
In Athens a small altar stands
Placed there as a reverent nod
To an as yet unknown god.

But soon That Day will come.


Bronzová neděle

Bronzové štíty a v zákrytu kopí
falangy Řeků když moci se chopí.
Kdo může odolat moci a síle,
přichází Řekové a jejich chvíle.

Nádvoří dlážděné mramorem skvělým
debatám naslouchá, myšlenkám smělým.
“Před naší moudrostí každý se sklání,
vznešený pantheon – bez srovnání!”

V zajetí chrámů, kde lid bohy vzývá,
v Aténách oltář prostý se skrývá
Prostý a vážný uprostřed všeho
k uctění boha neznámého.

Však brzy již vzejde ten den.