Thursday, 23 August 2007


Having quoted Rowan Williams earlier, I reproduce this poem, which means a great deal to me. Its simplicity, as always with Williams' poetry, hides great learning and tremendous psychological and spiritual subtlety. I hope to write something more about it soon.

Rublev is, of course, the famous Andrei Rublev, the greatest master of Russian icon-painting, who was born in the late 14th century. The poem is deeply bound to Rublev's miraculous icon of the Trinity, which shows the persons of the Trinity as angels seated at a table. It is in the Tretyakov gallery in Moscow.

* * *

Rublev, Rowan Williams, from The Poems of Rowan Williams

One day, God walked in, pale from the grey steppe,
slit-eyed against the wind, and stopped,
said, Colour me, breathe your blood into my mouth.

I said Here is the blood of all our people,
these are their bruises, blue and purple,
gold, brown, and pale green wash of death.

These (god) are chromatic pains of flesh.
I said, I trust I make you blush,
O I shall stain you with the scars of birth

For ever. I shall root you in the wood,
under the sun shall bake you bread
of beechmast, never let you forth

to the white desert, to the starving sand.
But we shall sit and speak around
one table, share one food, one earth.


Jane Holland said...

I once had a personal letter from that Rowan Williams fellow, you know!

I sent him a poem inspired by his book 'Silence and Honey-Cakes' which was itself inspired by the Sayings of the (3rd or 4th century?) Desert Mothers & Fathers. First, I had a standard reply back from Lambeth Palace, saying that he didn't have time to reply to everyone but appreciated my letter. Then, one day later, I got a short note from Rowan himself, commenting on the poem I'd sent and saying how much he'd enjoyed reading it.

I was a bit too embarrassed to formally dedicate the poem to him when the book came out ('Desert Mother' in Boudicca & Co) but I usually mention the inspiration behind the poem when I introduce it at readings.

That beard!


Bo said...

Wonderful! He's a good man, and a father to all hurt by the world's turning. [gag]. I'll have you know I loved your 'Desert Mother' too. One of my favourites.

Yvonne said...

That's a great poem. I do admire Rowan Williams. I'm a big fan of Desmond Tutu as well.

I've just written a new poem about the numbers of the Divine, and thought you might enjoy it. My next two way-stations on my spiritual journey will be Unitarianism and the MCC. Have you been reading Father Stephen's series about the One-storey Universe? - I think it's brilliant.

Anyway here's my poem:

Thou, Godde, art Zero: the Void from which everything was born, the ground and origin of our being.
Thou, Godde, art One: all in Godde, and Godde in all.
Thou, Godde, art Two: the union of Lover and Beloved, spirit in matter.
Thou, Godde, art Three: the Maker, the Lover and the Sustainer.
Thou, Godde, art Four: the Father, the Mother, the Logos and Sophia.
Earth, Air, Fire and Water.
Thou, Godde, art Five: Child, Spouse, Parent, Wise One, Hidden One.
Thou, Godde, art Six: the rays of Tiphereth, the beauty at the heart of all.
Thou, Godde, art Seven: the seven planetary angels that sing to Thee and of Thee and in Thee; the seven branches of the menorah.
Thou, Godde, art Eight: hidden in the eightfold wheel of the year, the centre to which all must connect; the compass rose, the rose upon the rood of time, the Buddha's eightfold path.
Thou, Godde, art Nine: the nine worlds upon the Tree, the nine proud walkers, the nine noble virtues.
Thou, Godde, art Ten: the ten Sephiroth of the Tree of Life, unfolding from eternity into time.
Thou, Godde, art the ten thousand things that emanate from the Tao.
Thou Limitless Sea of Light, thou of nine billion names.
Thou, Godde, art infinity: all in God, and God in all.
Thou art That.
That art Thou.
That of Godde in everyone.

by Yvonne Aburrow

Bo said...

That's wonderful Yvonne! Thanks!