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Tabb Centenary Year XLV

Five lyrics by Rev. John B. Tabb.

The Shell

Silence—a deeper sea—
Now sunders thee
Save from the primal tone—
Thy mother’s moan.

Within her waves, hadst thou
No voice as now;
A life of exile long
Hath taught thee song.

October 1902 (p. 171, Life, Death and Similar Themes: Silence)

Visible Sound

Aye, have we not felt it and known,
Ere Science proclaimed it her own,
That form is but visible tone?

Behold, where in silence was drowned
The last fleeting echo of sound,
The rainbow—its blossom—is found;

While anon, with a verdurous sweep
From the mountain-side, wooded and steep,
Swells the chorus of deep unto deep,

That the trumpet flowers, flame-flashing, blow
Till the lilies enkindled below
Swoon pale into passion, like snow!

Yea, Love, of sweet Nature the Lord,
Hath fashioned each manifold chord
To utter His visible Word,

Whose work, wheresoever begun,
Like the rays floating back to the Sun,
In the soul of all beauty is one.

1894 (p. 158, Life, Death and Similar Themes: The World)

The Chord

In this narrow cloister bound
Dwells a sisterhood of sound,
Far from alien voices rude
As in secret solitude
Unisons, that yearned apart,
Here, in harmony of heart,
Blend divided sympathies,
And in choral strength arise,
Like the cloven tongues of fire,
One in heavenly desire.

1894 (p. 149, Life, Death and Similar Themes: Sympathy)

The Lute-Player

He touched the strings; and lo, the strain,
   As waters dimple to the rain,
Spontaneous rose and fell again.

In swaddling clothes or silence bound,
   His genius a soul had found,
And wakened it to light and sound.

July 1907 (p. 187, Life, Death and Similar Themes: Miscellaneous)

The Statue

First fashioned in the artist’s brain,
It stood as in the marble vein,
   Revealed to him alone;
Nor could he from its native night
Have led it to the living light,
   Save through the lifeless stone.

E’en so, of silence and of sound
A twin-born mystery is found,
   Like as of death and birth;
Without the pause we had not heard
The harmony, nor caught the word
   That heaven reveals to earth.

May 1893 (p. 169, Life, Death and Similar Themes: Silence)

[“The Shell”: a seashell. “Visible Sound”: the trumpet flower is a flowering vine that grows in warmer regions of America, so-called because the flowers are shaped like the flared end of the musical instrument; anon means soon. “The Chord”: the concluding simile alludes to Pentecost, as recounted in Acts 2:1-4, when the Holy Spirit descended upon the Lord’s disciples, appearing as tongues of fire.]


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. 08/16/09 12:23:21 PM
Categorized as Father Tabb Centenary Year & Literary.

   
         
         

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