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Tabb Centenary Year XLII

Five lyrics by Rev. John B. Tabb.

The Seed

Bearing a life unseen,
Thou lingerest between
   A flower withdrawn,
And—what thou ne’er shalt see—
A blossom yet to be
   When thou art gone.

Unto the feast of spring
Thy broken heart shall bring
   What most it craved,
To find, like Magdalen
In tears, a life again
   Love-lost—and saved!

March 1895 (p. 95, Nature: Miscellaneous)


Behold, in summer’s parching thirst,
The while the waters pass them by,
The hills, like Tantalus accurst,
   In silent anguish lie;
Nor look they to the lowly vale
Wherein their famished shadows glide,
But, with uplifted glances pale,
   The will of Heaven abide.

1897 (p. 98, Nature: Miscellaneous)


This is the way that the sap-river ran
From the root to the top of the tree—
   Silent and dark,
   Under the bark,
Working a wonderful plan
   That the leaves never know,
   And the branches that grow
On the brink of the tide never see.

July 1901 (p. 28, Nature: Trees)

The Acorn

I am the heir—the Acorn small,
To whom as tributaries all,
The root, the stem, the branches tall,
Do homage round my castle wall.

And yet, obedient to the call
Of Earth, through Death’s opposing thrall—
Of wealth a seeming prodigal—
To Life’s dominion must I fall.

May 1906 (p. 30, Nature: Day and Night)


I give what ne’er was mine—
   To every seed the power
   Of stem and leaf and flower,
Of fruit or fragrance fine;

And take what others loathe—
   Of death the foulest forms,
   Wherewith to feed my worms,
And thus the world reclothe.

September 1898 (p. 104, Nature: Miscellaneous)

[“The Seed”: Magdalen is St. Mary Magdalen(e); the allusion is to the Gospel story of the sinful woman washing the Lord’s feet with her hair, Luke 7:36-50: traditionally, the woman has often been identified as the Saint, though the identification is not much more than conjecture. “Resignation”: in Greek mythology, Tantalus was a son of Zeus: “Tantalus's punishment, now proverbial for temptation without satisfaction (the source of the English word tantalise - US tantalize), was to stand in a pool of water beneath a fruit tree with low branches. Whenever he reached for the fruit, the branches raised his intended meal from his grasp. Whenever he bent down to get a drink, the water receded before he could get any.” “The Acorn”: a remarkable poem for having all eight lines rhyming. ]

The references (page number and section) are to The Poetry of Father Tabb, ed. Francis A. Litz, Ph.D. (New York: Dodd, Mead & Company, 1928). All of Tabb's poems published here in the Father Tabb Centenary Year were originally published before 1923.

Biblical references link to the New Advent Bible comprising Bishop Challoner's edition of the Douay-Rheims Bible (English) and the Sixto-Clementine edition of the Vulgate (Latin), since they are the versions which Father Tabb would have used as a Catholic.

The year 2009 is the centenary of the death of Rev. John Banister Tabb, November 19, 1909.

Lane Core Jr. CIW P — Sun. 07/26/09 12:15:03 PM
Categorized as Father Tabb Centenary Year & Literary.


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