"Love follows knowledge."
"Beauty above all beauty!"
– St. Catherine of Siena

Monday, June 26, 2017

List: 20 Classic Poems All Men Should Read

The website The Art of Manliness truly is one of the great website on the internet and one of my favorites.  Its mission statement claims it is “a blog dedicated to uncovering the lost art of being a man.”  It’s not about indulging in a hyper masculinity such as those ridiculous “professional” wrestlers or some other cartoon characterization of masculinity.  It’s about understanding and excelling at the various elements of a man’s life, such as clothing, shaving, family and fatherhood, sports, and manly skills.  If you’ve never surfed it, you should, and that goes for women too. 

The other week they had a post titled “20 Classic Poems Every Man Should Read” and it wanted to promote reading poetry as a manly pursuit.  From their post:

John Adams, one of the founding fathers of the United States, commended poetry to his son John Quincy. Both Abraham Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt committed their favorite poems to memory. Ancient kings were expected to produce poetry while also being versed in warfare and statecraft. That poetry has fallen out of favor among men in the 21st century is a recent trend rather than the norm.

To help remedy this, we have compiled a list of 20 classic poems that every man should read. Spanning the past two thousand years, the poems on this list represent some of the best works of poetry ever composed. But don’t worry—they were selected for both their brevity and ease of application. Some are about striving to overcome, others about romantic love, and still others about patriotism. Whether you’ve been reading poetry for years or haven’t read a single line since high school, these poems are sure to inspire and delight you.

The list is somewhat questionable if you ask me.  Look it over.  Read them all.  I’m familiar with most of them.  I agree some are poems perfect for men.  A couple I don’t understand why they would be oriented toward manliness, and then some are rather testosterone filled that I think it does manliness a disservice.  Let me identify the ones I absolutely agree men should be familiar with:

1. "Ulysses" by Alfred, Lord Tennyson
2. "If-" by Rudyard Kipling
4. Sonnet 29 by William Shakespeare
6. "Mending Wall" by Robert Frost
15. "A Valediction: Forbidding Mourning" by John Donne
20. Ode 1.11 by Horace

So given I have read a fair amount of poetry in my life and given I consider myself a man—yes, in today’s world the biological fact of manhood doesn’t necessarily mean you consider yourself a man—I decided to create my own list of twenty classic poems for men.  These are poems I’ve been familiar with for most of my life, and somehow are endearing to me, and I think speak to the fullness of masculinity, true masculinity, not cartoonish masculinity.  Some you may be familiar with, some you may not.

Here is the list with links to the full poems.

1. “Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night” by Dylan Thomas

2. “The Wild Swans at Coole” by William Butler Yeats

3. “The Emperor of Ice Cream” by Wallace Stevens

4. “They Flee from Me” by Sir Thomas Wyatt

5. “At Melville's Tomb” by Hart Crane

6. “The Windhover” by Gerard Manley Hopkins

7. Henry Woos Katherine, Henry V, Act V, Scene II by William Shakespeare

8. “Upon Julia's Clothes” by Robert Herrick

9. “Gloire de Dijon” by D. H. Lawrence

10. “[Buffalo Bill 's]” by e. e. cummings

11. “The World Is Too Much With Us” by William Wordsworth

12. “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening” by Robert Frost

13. “Water” by Robert Lowell

14. “La Belle Dame Sans Merci” by John Keats

15. “My Papa's Waltz” by Theodore Roethke

16. “The Death of the Ball Turret Gunner” by Randall Jarrell

17. “Canto I” by Ezra Pound

18. “The Collar” by George Herbert

19. “The Hunters in the Snow” by William Carlos Williams

20. “Mortal Limit” by Robert Penn Warren

So what makes these poems manly?  First they are all written from a man’s perspective, and all the authors are men. 

Second, they take on various aspects of a man’s life: fatherhood (“My Papa’s Waltz”) or hunting (“The Hunters in the Snow”) or a sailing voyage (Pound’s “Canto I”) or just a sort of mundane busyness (“Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening”).  They look at maturity from a male’s perspective, such as curbing one’s desire (“The Collar”) or the realization of time’s passage (“The Wild Swans at Coole”), and they look at a man’s relationship with God (“The World is too Much with Us” and “The Windhover”).  They look at various aspects of love, such as wooing of a young lady in Henry V or of a more Platonic friendship with a woman friend (“Water”), or of being captivated by a mysterious woman (“La Belle Dame Sans Merci”), or seduced (“Upon Julia’s Clothes) or aroused (“Gloire de Dijon”) or being used by women (“They Flee from Me”).  Finally there are a fair number of them that deal with death: a tragic death as a soldier (“The Death of the Ball Turret Gunner”) or the death of a gallant man (“Buffalo Bill’s” and “At Melville’s Tomb) or resisting death (“Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night”) or death represented as a brawny brute (“The Emperor of Ice Cream”).

Third, the language of the poems have a masculine tone, a masculine diction, or a masculine voice.  I don’t have the space to post every poem in entirety, but I want to give you a sampling from each, a sample I hope that captures that masculine diction or voice or just perspective.

From Dylan’s “Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night”:

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night. (l. 1-6)

From Yeats’ “The Wild Swans at Coole”:

But now they drift on the still water,
Mysterious, beautiful;
Among what rushes will they build,
By what lake's edge or pool
Delight men's eyes when I awake some day
To find they have flown away?  (l. 25-30)

From Stevens’ “The Emperor of Ice Cream”:

Call the roller of big cigars,
The muscular one, and bid him whip
In kitchen cups concupiscent curds.
Let the wenches dawdle in such dress
As they are used to wear, and let the boys
Bring flowers in last month’s newspapers.
Let be be finale of seem.
The only emperor is the emperor of ice-cream. (l. 1-8)

From Wyatt’s “They Flee from Me”:

They flee from me that sometime did me seek
With naked foot, stalking in my chamber.
I have seen them gentle, tame, and meek,
That now are wild and do not remember
That sometime they put themself in danger
To take bread at my hand; and now they range,
Busily seeking with a continual change. (l. 1-7)

From Crane’s “At Melville's Tomb”:

Compass, quadrant and sextant contrive
No farther tides ... High in the azure steeps
Monody shall not wake the mariner.
This fabulous shadow only the sea keeps. (l. 13-16)

From Hopkins’ “The Windhover”:

I caught this morning morning's minion, king-
   dom of daylight's dauphin, dapple-dawn-drawn Falcon, in his riding
   Of the rolling level underneath him steady air, and striding
High there, how he rung upon the rein of a wimpling wing
In his ecstasy! then off, off forth on swing,
   As a skate's heel sweeps smooth on a bow-bend: the hurl and gliding
   Rebuffed the big wind. My heart in hiding
Stirred for a bird, – the achieve of, the mastery of the thing. (l. 1-8)

From Shakepeare’s Henry Woos Katherine, Henry V, Act V, Scene II

[Henry] The princess is the better Englishwoman. I' faith,
Kate, my wooing is fit for thy understanding: I am
glad thou canst speak no better English; for, if
thou couldst, thou wouldst find me such a plain king
that thou wouldst think I had sold my farm to buy my        
crown. I know no ways to mince it in love, but
directly to say 'I love you:' then if you urge me
farther than to say 'do you in faith?' I wear out
my suit. Give me your answer; i' faith, do: and so
clap hands and a bargain: how say you, lady? (l. 121-130)

Herrick’s “Upon Julia's Clothes” (entire poem):

Whenas in silks my Julia goes,
Then, then (methinks) how sweetly flows
That liquefaction of her clothes.

Next, when I cast mine eyes, and see
That brave vibration each way free,
O how that glittering taketh me!

From Lawrence’s “Gloire de Dijon”:

When she rises in the morning
I linger to watch her;
She spreads the bath-cloth underneath the window
And the sunbeams catch her
Glistening white on the shoulders,
While down her sides the mellow
Golden shadow glows as
She stoops to the sponge, and her swung breasts
Sway like full-blown yellow
Gloire de Dijon roses. (l. 1-10)

From cummings’ “[Buffalo Bill 's]”:

Buffalo Bill ’s
               who used to
               ride a watersmooth-silver
                                                                  stallion  (l. 1-5)

From Wordsworth’s “The World Is Too Much With Us”:

….Great God! I’d rather be
A Pagan suckled in a creed outworn;
So might I, standing on this pleasant lea,
Have glimpses that would make me less forlorn;
Have sight of Proteus rising from the sea;
Or hear old Triton blow his wreathèd horn. (l. 9-14)

From Frost’s “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening”:

My little horse must think it queer  
To stop without a farmhouse near  
Between the woods and frozen lake  
The darkest evening of the year.   (l. 5-8)

From Lowell’s “Water”:

Remember? We sat on a slab of rock.
From this distance in time
it seems the color
of iris, rotting and turning purpler,

but it was only
the usual gray rock
turning the usual green
when drenched by the sea. (l. 13-20)

From Keats’ “La Belle Dame Sans Merci”:

I met a lady in the meads
  Full beautiful, a faery’s child;
Her hair was long, her foot was light,
  And her eyes were wild.

I set her on my pacing steed,
  And nothing else saw all day long;
For sideways would she lean, and sing
  A faery’s song.  (l. 13-20)

From Roethke’s “My Papa's Waltz”:

The whiskey on your breath  
Could make a small boy dizzy;  
But I hung on like death:  
Such waltzing was not easy.

We romped until the pans  
Slid from the kitchen shelf;  
My mother’s countenance  
Could not unfrown itself.  (l. 1-8)

Jarrell’s “The Death of the Ball Turret Gunner” (entire poem):

From my mother’s sleep I fell into the State,
And I hunched in its belly till my wet fur froze.
Six miles from earth, loosed from its dream of life,
I woke to black flak and the nightmare fighters.
When I died they washed me out of the turret with a hose.

From Pound’s “Canto I”:

And then went down to the ship,
Set keel to breakers, forth on the godly seas, and
We set up mast and sail on that swart ship,
Bore sheep aboard her, and our bodies also
Heavy with weeping, and winds from sternward
Bore us out onward with bellying canvas,
Circe’s this craft, the trim-coifed goddess.
Then sat we amidships, wind jamming the tiller,
Thus with stretched sail, we went over sea till day’s end. (l. 1- 9)

From Herbert’s “The Collar”:

Away! take heed;
I will abroad.
Call in thy death's-head there; tie up thy fears;
He that forbears
To suit and serve his need
Deserves his load."
But as I rav'd, and grew more fierce and wild
At every word,
Me thoughts I heard one calling, "Child";
And I replied, "My Lord."  (l. 27-36)

From Williams’ “The Hunters in the Snow”:

The over-all picture is winter
icy mountains
in the background the return

from the hunt it is toward evening
from the left
sturdy hunters lead in

their pack the inn-sign
hanging from
a broken hinge is a stag a crucifix  (l. 1-9)

From Penn Warren’s “Mortal Limit”:

I saw the hawk ride updraft in the sunset over Wyoming.
It rose from coniferous darkness, past gray jags
Of mercilessness, past whiteness, into the gloaming
Of dream-spectral light above the lazy purity of snow-snags.

There—west—were the Tetons.  Snow-peaks would soon be
In dark profile to break constellations.  Beyond what height
Hangs now the black speck?  Beyond what range will gold eyes see
New ranges rise to mark a last scrawl of light?  (l. 1-8)

I hope the quotes from the poems were enticing enough to make you go read them all.  None of them are exceedingly long, except perhaps the Henry V scene.  Do you agree these all reflect masculinity in some way?  I know there are other aspects of masculinity, such as being a husband, which I did not cover.  Which poem would you exclude?  What other poems would you add?

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Art: Our Lady of Fatima, the Thomas McGlynn Statue, Part 1

In my last post I mentioned the Catholic Thought book club at Goodreads was reading Vision of Fatima by Thomas McGlynn O.P. which detailed his trip to Portugal to discuss with Lúcia de Jesus dos Santos, otherwise known as Irmã Dores and the last living child that had witnessed the Fatima apparitions, the creation of a statue of Our Lady of Fatima based on Lucia's vision.  As it turns out one of the first marble productions of McGlynn's Fatima statue that came out of his consultation with Lucia is at the Church of St. Vincent Ferrer in uptown Manhattan.  A shrine dedicated to St. John Paul II at the church has been united with the McGlynn statue since the Holy Father credited Our Lady of Fatima in saving his life when he was shot on her feast day.  You can read about the shrine at Catholic New York, my diocese newspaper. From the article:

On the 100th anniversary of the first Marian apparition at Fatima, a shrine was dedicated in Manhattan May 13 to the memory of St. John Paul II, who credited Mary with saving his life after an assassination attempt in Rome on the feast of Our Lady of Fatima in 1981.


Father McGlynn was commissioned by a distributor of religious goods to make the statue shortly after the Second World War, when devotion to Our Lady of Fatima began to spread beyond Portugal. Although he was confident his representation of Mary was accurate, based on his research, he determined to show a small model of it to Sister Lucia, the only surviving seer, for confirmation.

Carrying a letter of introduction from Cardinal Francis Spellman to the bishop of Lisbon, Portugal, he got permission to visit Sister Lucia at her convent. When he finally met Sister Lucia, Father McGlynn was surprised and disappointed when she politely told him his statue was inaccurate.

He remained at the convent and under Sister Lucia’s direction, produced an entirely new statue. In his memoir, Father McGlynn said Sister Lucia corrected his ideas of the appearance of Our Lady of Fatima and also explained to him the spiritual vision of Fatima and encouraged him to make it better known.

The sculptor came home for the dedication at St. Vincent Ferrer of the redesigned statue on Mother’s Day, 1947. By cruel coincidence, his mother, who planned to attend the event, died while he was en route home, and lay in a funeral parlor across from the church as he preached at the dedication. Father Devaney said from that day, Father McGlynn looked at Mary as his mother, in much the way St. John Paul did.

So this version of the statue by Fr. McGlynn was based on Sister Lucia’s vision of Our Lady and was created in close collaboration with the future saint.

I decided Saturday to trek up to St. Vincent Ferrer's church to examine the statue, and this post and the following is an examination of the statue and the creative process in developing the statue as written in the book.  

First, St. Vincent Ferrer was a lovely church.  There was a plaque that said it was in the English Gothic style.  It is run by the Dominican Friars, St. Vincent Ferrer being a Dominican, one of the many Dominican saints.  Here’s a picture inside the church looking toward the apse.

And here toward the rear, a beautiful rose window.

I loved this little chapel with a painting of St. Dominic receiving the rosary from Our Lady.  Those are little statues of Dominican saints around the painting.  You may have to click the picture to bring it into a large image.

Here is the façade of the church and a close up.

It really is a beautiful church.

The McGlynn statue with the St. John Paul shrine was located along the left wall in what might have been a transept, but if it was a transept it wasn’t very pronounced.  It was not in a chapel but a niche that was formed from the side wall jutting out as you walked toward the altar.  Here is the entire shrine in one view.

Fr. McGlynn Our Lady of Fatima Statue at St. Vincent Ferrer Church

And here are the shrine with the focus to the right.

Our Lady of Fatima Statue at St. Pope John Paul Shrine

And with a focus to the left.

Our Lady of Fatima, Fr. McGlynn Statue

I asked one of the priests in the church, an older Dominican Friar, if this was an original and he said yes but wasn't sure if it was the first. Later someone that worked at the church said this was the first of the statues Fr. McGlynn made from the plaster prototype he brought back from Portugal. So this was certainly a thrill. Here is a close up.

Our Lady of Fatima Statue, St. Vincent Ferrer Church

And from the waist up.

Fr. McGlynn, Our Lady of Fatima

Personally I think this statue is breath taking and far superior to the traditional Our Lady of Fatima that you commonly see.  I don’t have the time to go into detail in this post.  I will continue with zoomed in pictures in my next post and excerpts from the book on how the various parts of the statue came to be.   

Friday, June 16, 2017

Lines I Wished I’d Written: The Trip to the Chapel of the Apparitions, from Vision of Fatima by Fr. Thomas McGlynn, O.P.

I’ve mentioned I participate at the Catholic Thought book club on Goodreads.  For those that don’t know, Goodreads is a “social catalogue” website for books. It’s a place to catalogue the books you’ve read, provide a rating or review for others to read, and discuss books.  I didn’t know it was owned by Amazon until now, but that makes sense.  In addition people can gather themselves into book clubs of whatever shared interest you may have.  There are all sorts of classics book clubs, history book clubs, romance novel book clubs, and whatever book genre you can imagine, and some you’ve never imagined.  There are several Catholic oriented book clubs and for the last few years I’ve belonged to Catholic Thought.  It’s really the only book club I participate in, and now I’ve become one of the moderators. 

Goodreads is free to participate in, and I’m always looking for new members for the Catholic Thought club.  Some of the books we have recently read (and I have not participated in all the reads) are “The Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola,” The Interior Castle by St. Teresa of Avila, Amoris Laetitia by Pope Francis, Treatise on the Love of God by St. Francis de Sales, The Future Church: How Ten Trends are Revolutionizing the Catholic Church by John Allen, Silence by Shūsaku Endō, and Learning the Virtues: That Lead You to God by Romano Guardini.  If you want to build an intellectual basis for your faith, then come join us.  Here’s our book club mission statement:

This group is dedicated to the great enjoyment derived from Catholic theological and spiritual reading when combined with the outlooks and opinions of many friends. We are not an apologetics group. Our goal is to find comfort in the teachings of the Catholic Church.

Currently we are reading Vision of Fatima by Fr. Thomas McGlynn, O.P.   Fr. McGlynn (1906-77) was a Dominican priest, sculptor, professor at Providence College, and writer.  /  He sculpted many saints and Popes, and in 1947 was commissioned to make a statue of Our Lady of Fatima.  After building a prototype, he decided he would bring it to the one remaining, living child of the famed Fatima Apparitions of 1917, Lúcia de Jesus dos Santos, at the time a Carmelite nun, to get her approval and possible revisal for the large scale sculpture he intends to create.  This book recounts his journey to Lucy, as he refers to her at the beginning of the book (later he refers to her as Irmã Dores, her name at the convent), Lucy’s rejection of the prototype statue, and the recreation of the new statue based on her vision.  To be clear, this is not the more renown Our Lady of Fatima statue carved by José Thedim that is more familiar.  Sister Lucy did not approve of that statue either; it did not fit the apparition.  Fr. McGlynn intended to make a statue to correspond with Lucy’s perspective, her vision.  And that is what this book is about, as well as filling in the complex messages of the apparition as Fr. McGlynn learns about them.

As it turns out, EWTN’s show Bookmarks with Doug Keck recently broadcast an episode discussing this very book.  Typically Doug on his show discusses the book with the author, but in this case he will not be calling Fr. McGlynn back from the dead. ;) He discusses the book with Fr. Gabriel Gillen O.P.  Fr. Gillen had researched the history of how Fr. McGlynn had sculpted the various statues that he discusses in the book.  You can watch this episode on youtube, here.  

The lines from Vision of Fatima I wish to highlight come from Chapter 4, simply titled, “Fatima.”  Fr. McGlynn and his interpreter and traveling companion in Portugal, Fr. Gardiner, here drive out from Lisbon to the town of Fatima for the first time.  Along the journey they stop at the Dominican Monastery in Batlahla, and then to the shrine at the south rim of the Cova, which is the actual location of the apparitions.  They settle in at a near-by hostel, all the while trying to understand the perplexing details of the Fatima apparitions, and the directives that were given by the Blessed Mother.  Finally they reach their goal, the Chapel of the Apparitions. 

We stopped at a green wooden building near the edge of the village, an inn called Pousada de Nossa Senhora do Rosário da Fátima.  Mr. Petracchi, the proprietor, welcomed us.  I tried speaking to him in Italian, but learned that despite his name and appearance he was English and about as familiar with Italian as I was with Gaelic.  He showed us through the dining room, which occupied the front of the building, to our rooms, off the narrow hall that divided the remainder of the one-story structure.  There was no heating.  The cold, the unpainted woodwork, and the springless beds confirmed the reputation of severe simplicity that visitors remark of Fatima.  There were no luxuries and few comforts at this shrine of penance. 

The few peasants along the road, as others I had seen on the way from Leiria, were short and sturdy of stature, with firm, regular features.  They were poorly and somberly clothed.  Women wore black dresses and veils, and, along with their children, were generally barefoot; the men had well-worn suits, usually brown or grey, collarless shirts, and nearly always the bone, a long, black stocking cap that falls to the shoulder. 

Gathering impressions of the people in the vicinity of Fatima, I found that curiosity was unilateral.  This might have been because they were accustomed to visitors from many lands; but my feeling, bourne out of future contacts, was that, beyond their black eyes, there are self-assured and independent personalities.  They have wrested a living from the stubborn soil of the Serra, and in the process they seemed to have acquired a strange likeness to their surroundings: austere, solid, and uncommunicative.  They were always courteous but never obsequious; friendly, but reserved. 

The panorama of the Sanctuary of Our Lady of the Rosary of Fatima fans out to the north at the west end of the village.  It is dominated by the graceful spire of the basilica, which rises more than two hundred feet on the hill, about a quarter of a mile from the road.  The church is made of cream-colored stone, lighter than the other buildings, and stands as on a pedestal on a great stairway that leads down to the saucer-shaped hallow.  Beneath the cross, a dark-green bronze crown tops the mounting movement of the tower.  There is an empty niche over the doorway.  Scaffoldings made of rough logs were leaning against the sides of the huge nave.  The tower was standing against a magnificent billowing cloud that had been turned a red-gold in the light of the setting sun.

We went through the gateway, down a wide gravel walk, toward the fountain, which is the hub of the Cova.  To the right and left of the walk, retaining walls drop down to irregular depressions, which are sprinkled with small trees and rough rock formations.  These quarter segments of the circle are the only unaltered remains of the original Cova. 

The fountain in the center is a gray circular stone structure, surrounded by arches, from whose roof a column rises to sustain a gilded statue of the Sacred Heart.  Between the fountain and the basilica is the expansive semicircle of sandy, graded fill, where the hundred thousands gather on the days of pilgrimage. 

On the right, the shell of a new hospital was rising; the old hospital is on the ridge to the left.  Beyond it, and not seen from the Cova, is the hospice, which is used for retreatants and for the offices of the Sanctuary.

However, I took note of the hospital, at first, only as the yellow background for a deep-red tile roof of a small structure about twenty yards up the slope of the fountain.  The roof, at the far end, covers a tiny white-walled chapel with room enough for only the celebrant and a few worshippers; but most of the roof is over a porch of rough cement.  This is the goal of every pilgrim’s journey—the Chapel of the Apparitions.  Outside and a little to the left of the doorway of the chapel, a stone column, seven feet high, marks the spot where the Blessed Virgin appeared to the children.

As we arrived at the steps in front of the chapel the great bells of the basilica were ringing out the Angelus.

I find that such an engaging passage.  Even though this is from personal experience, and therefore non-fiction, Fr. McGlynn has a keen creative and organizing eye as he brings the reader to the climatic monument—the Chapel of the Apparitions—to the end of chapter.  And then he provides the lovely touch of the ringing bells of the Angelus, the mid-day prayer to the Blessed Virgin.

Here’s how the Chapel looks in more recent times. 

And here is the basilica: