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The Weblog at The View from the Core - Wed. 09/08/04 07:50:00 AM

John Banister Tabb

On the Feast of the Birth of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

On this day, September 8, 1872, the great poet John Banister Tabb was received into the full communion of the Catholic Church, after having been an Episcopalian.

The Catholic Encyclopedia has a brief biographical essay; also, he is mentioned in passing in this article on the Sulpicians.

A book-length biography, by his niece Jennie Masters Tabb, is here (though marred by typographical errors).

The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21) at Bartleby has an appreciation of Fr. Tabb's poetry:

.... It surely will be conceded that Tabb’s poetic manner is as individual as Lanier’s. Yet his first poems in 1883, some nineteen lyrics and a few sonnets, reveal little of this originality or indeed of poetical promise. The shortest poems were in ten lines, whereas his later style tends to quatrains. Working in such small compass, he has polished his technique to a point near perfection. The diction is of extreme simplicity. The measures flow on without a ripple. The figures are suggested in the most concise phrasing. In short, his poems are a series of the most delicate cameos....

I have a small selection of his poetry from Later Poems (1910). An American Anthology, 1787–1900, at Bartleby has eleven poems by Tabb. And the American Verse Project has the entire text of Lyrics (1909): index to individual poems and entire text in one file.

Today is the Feast of the Birth of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Here are three of Tabb's Marian poems.

The Immaculate Conception

A dew drop of the darkness born,
   Wherein no shadow lies;
The blossom of a barren thorn,
   Whereof no petal dies;
A rainbow beauty passion-free,
Wherewith was veiled Divinity.



Maid-Mother of humanity divine,
   Alone thou art in thy supremacy,
   Since God Himself did reverence to thee
And built of flesh a temple one with thine,
Wherein, through all eternity, to shrine
   His inexpressive glory. Blessed be
   The miracle of thy maternity,
Of grace the sole immaculate design!


The Tree

Thou art the blessed Tree
Whose fruit proclaimeth thee,
   O Mother mine!
For never laden bough
Such burden bore as thou,
   Of Love Divine.


The Poetry of Father Tabb (1928), ed. Francis A. Litz, Ph.D., pp. 204f, 210, 213.

See also these.

Lane Core Jr. CIW P — Wed. 09/08/04 07:50:00 AM
Categorized as Literary & Religious.


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