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The Weblog at The View from the Core - Sun. 08/08/04 08:28:47 AM

Three by Ely III

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."

Our Lady of GuadalupeOur Lady of Guadalupe

"December roses on a stony hill?
Poor fool—he's mad, completely mad, poor fool!"
Thus spoke the unbelieving ones.
But from his tilma Juan Diego cast
Before them roses, red and velvet-soft,
And there upon the homely cloth
There glowed an image of his vision fair.
'Twas just as she had come before
Upon the hills where Juan was hunting herbs,
And told him softly of her wish to build
Upon that spot a place of prayer and praise.
She stood in shining brightness, tall and fair;
Her hands were clasped in attitude of prayer;
The crescent moon, content to touch her feet,
The stars, to cling upon her azure robe.
The sun, which all around her spread its rays,
Were to her brightness as is dawn to day.

They'd asked for facts, for proof—well, here it was—
A miracle! The unbelieving knew;
The scornful bowed; the simple-hearted prayed,
And all together built the shrine she asked.
Thus Guadalupe wrought a miracle
Of gentleness and faith. In human hearts
Uncounted everlasting shrines were born.

St. James the GreaterSt. James the Greater

It came to pass, a thousand years ago,
The Spaniards vowed no longer to be shamed
By giving tribute to the heathen Moors.
Their armies floundered, helplessly o'ercome,
Until the king in dreams was promised help
From heaven above to win his righteous cause.
Then in the thick of battle Santiago rode
On steed of purest white, with banner high,
To lead the soldier Christians on to fame.
His surging spirit filled their souls, and they
Swept on to smite the furious heathen Moors
Till, strewn upon the sand, they felt the swords
Of all of Santiago's men; yea, swords and more—
The heavy, thundering hoofs which smote them as
Death clutched their souls—the hoofs of that white steed
Which James bestrode in just and furious wrath.

Embattled Spaniards, many centuries hence,
Who fought to win Nuevo Mexico,
Were close to death at Indian hands, when lo!
Santiago came with flaming sword upraised
And swept the foe as sand before the wind.
He struck them down in furious haste, and they
In terror gazed upon the Maiden Mary
By his side. But when the battle's din was stilled,
And search was made to find these two,
Nowhere could they be seen. And thus they knew
'Twas he, Saint James, who rode on snowy steed
In Spanish soldier's garb, to win their cause,
And vanished ere the swirling dust had ebbed.

The CrucifixThe Crucifix

The black mantilla'd women say
Their beads, and in the sorrowful mysteries count
Ten prayers for that lone night of agony
Endured within Gethsemane;
Ten more for all the scourging that He bore;
And ten again for His inhuman crown.
They say ten Aves for His way up to
The cross, and ten self-deprecating prayers
In memory of His death. And then they cross
Themselves, and kiss the crucifix,
And put their rosary away.
And who shall say they mumble only words,
Become mere habit through their frequent use?
Each time they tell their beads, they live again
The story of Christ's birth and childhood days,
His agony and death upon the cross,
Or all his glory after death.
He died to save men's souls—to wash away
Their guilt—and by His death He opened up
The door of heav'nly peace. But even more,
I think, He wanted us to imitate
His ever-gentle kindness and His love
Of all humanity, and not to scorn
That which we do not understand.
His was an all-embracing love. His arms
Upon the cross are spread unto us all.

Sacred Paintings on Skin (1944), interpretive poems by Marie Schmitt Ely.

Herb Ely is putting his mother's poems on line, including the poetry in Sacred Paintings.

See also Three by Ely II: Poems from Sacred Paintings.

Lane Core Jr. CIW P — Sun. 08/08/04 08:28:47 AM
Categorized as Literary & Religious & Sunday Poetry Series.


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Cor ad cor loquitur J. H. Newman — “Heart speaks to heart”