Three by Ely I
Poems from Sacred Paintings.
"This publication features twelve silkscreen prints by Martha Ann Walker and interpretive poems by Marie Schmitt Ely, and explanatory notes by E. Boyd Hall. The prints are renditions of 18th century paintings done by Franciscan missionaries. Because the original paintings were based oil canvases brought from Mexico on mission supply caravans. The silkscreen reproductions are meant to reconstruct the original paintings done in vegetable dyes on animal skins (chiefly deerskin). Since the originals are severely faded, the silkscreen print is an attempt to reconstruct its color and feel as closely as possible. The blank verse poems are written from the viewpoint of former users of the paintings."
Betrayed and tortured, there upon the cross
Christ hung: His tired head with a crown of thorns
Bowed to one side; his desperate, aching arms,
His pain emblazoned hands, outstretched.
His body, lashed and scourged, sagged ever down,
And all about Him, their torture tools;
The cock that signaled Peter seemed to leer;
The vinegar reeked acrid at his feet;
The dice lay, grinning wickedly at him;
The spear to pierce His heart gleamed bright and keen;
The whips and axes, ropes and ladder too
They all bore witness to Our Savior's pain.
The cloth Veronica held up to Him,
Which bore the imprint of that weary face
That, too, attested to His woes.
About Him, all was still and blood-besmeared;
But as His pain-racked body first grew cold
A host of angels seemed to hover 'round;
And God the Father blessed His mighty son
And all those sacrificial implements
Became, by Jesus' death upon the crucifix,
The shining means to save men's souls.
At first a few alone believed Him God,
But more and more became His followers
Until that lonely figure of Christ crucified
Is now in all the world the most beloved.
St. Francis of Assisi
Francisco was a wealthy youth, well-loved
By all his friends, and loving pleasure, too.
Made prisoner in Perugia, he found
His life an empty one, and searched his mind
For friends and deeds of honest godliness.
From this time on, he cast aside the world
And turned to simple, daily things
Which of no moment seemed to him before.
With poverty he armed himself, as with
A shining, costly cloak; all living things
His brothers were; he preached unto the birds
With gentleness and sweet sincerity.
So honest and so forthright were his words
That birds and beasts, and humans, too were won.
St. Francis for his brethren made the rule
Of poverty, and chastity, and of
Obedience. Franciscans they were called
And to this way of life they still adhere.
They all wore simple habits, girded with
A rope, barefoot, in humble penitence.
But Francis wore, in hands and feet and side,
The glorious marks of Christ's own wounds
Upon the Cross the stigmata.
'Tis thus we see him in New Mexico
Garbed simply, sandals on his feet,
A hemped cord about his waist.
He contemplates a crucifix, and in
His hand he holds a skull to signify
The emptiness of Life. Behind him are
His monuments to God Before him are
All living things to whom he gently speaks,
As long ago he spoke unto the birds.
St. Anthony of Padua
The Infant Jesus stands within his arms,
And in his hand a lily sheaf he bears;
Saint Anthony is rightly pictured so,
For pure in heart and soul was he.
He was a learned man, imbued with zeal,
And taught in many universities
Until, like Francis, he went forth among
His fellow men and spoke to them of all
The miracles and marvels of his God.
'Twas when one day he sought to tell
The miracle of God made man that there
Appeared upon his book the Infant Christ.
A man called Bobadilla uttered doubt
That God indeed dwelt bodily within
The Eucharist and called for proof.
Saint Anthony who in procession bore
The Host, bade Bobadilla's mule to kneel
And to his knees the humble creature fell
While all looked on and marveled at the sight,
And Bobadilla sought in vain to tempt
The beast with oats he held beside his head.
The patron of the poor, Antonio
Of Padua is called, and for a score
Of things his fame has spread.
His aid is sought to find lost articles;
And those with child beseeech his guardianship;
The men who sail on ships ask him to guide
Them safe to port, and through his grace with God
He smooths the troubled seas and shows them too
The miracle of faith.
From Sacred Paintings on Skin (1944), interpretive poems by Marie Schmitt Ely (1914-1946).
Herb Ely is putting his mother's poems on line, including the poetry in Sacred Paintings.
Lane Core Jr. CIW P Sun. 07/25/04 11:23:45 AM
Categorized as Literary & Religious & Sunday Poetry Series.