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Tabb Centenary Year LIII

Five poems by Rev. John B. Tabb.

Gone

The sunshine seeks thee, and the day,
Without thee lonely, wears away:
And where the twilight shadows pass,
And miss thy footprints on the grass,
They weep; whereat the breezes sigh,
And, following to find thee, die.

1897 (p. 81, Nature: Day and Night)

The Humming-Bird

A flash of harmless lightning,
   A mist of rainbow dyes,
The burnished sunbeams brightening,
   From flower to flower he flies:

While wakes the nodding blossom,
   But just too late to see
What lip hath touched her bosom
   And drained her nectary.

October 1891 (p. 36, Nature: Birds)

An Autumn Leaf

A nursling of the under-green,
A tethered wing I poised between
A heaven above and heaven below—
Twin sisters, mirrored in the glow
Of limpid waters—where the breeze,
Blind comrade of the listening trees,
Came wakening with soft caress
The shadows dumb and motionless.

There once, at summer’s close, a flame
Of fire and song, a redbird came,
And, perched upon my parent limb,
Outpoured his soul. From joy abrim,
The bubbling vintage of his brain,
I quaffed, the while each fibre-vein,
Deep-reddening with emotion, stirred,
Alas! he heeded not nor heard!
But when he ceased, and flew away,
A panting prisoner I lay,
Close-fettered, till the kindred fire
Of frost lit up the autumn pyre;
Then, suddenly, the tidal swell
Of sap receded, and I fell.

1894 (p. 90, Nature: The Seasons)

A Fleeting Guest

Through the foul arch of night
On airy pinions white
   It came to me,
And in the smile of day
All beautiful it lay,
   Yet pale to see.

“Whence comest thou?” I cried;
A silence soft replied:
   “From regions vast—
The ocean gave me birth
And thence through heaven to earth
   My spirit passed.”

As o’er an elfin bright
I bent with strange delight,
   But all too near;
For lo! my breathing warm
Dissolved the magic charm
   Into a tear!

1882 (p. 73, Nature: Day and Night)

Joy

New-born, how long to stay?
The while a dewdrop may
   Or rainbow-gleam:
One kiss of sun or shade,
And lo, the breath that made
   Unmakes the dream!

1894 (p. 145, Life, Death and Similar Themes: Joy and Sorrow)

[“The Humming-Bird”: hummingbirds are small nectar-eating birds whose wings beat so fast they can heard to hum; the Ruby-throated Hummingbird nests in the eastern United States. “An Autumn Leaf”: a redbird is a Cardinal; the male of the species is almost entirely red. “A Fleeting Guest”: a snowflake; “elfin” is typically the adjectival form of elf, here used as a noun for metrical purposes.]


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. 10/04/09 08:08:34 PM
Categorized as Father Tabb Centenary Year.

   
         
         

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