Poetry Corner

There is no singular and uniform Catholic worldview, but nevertheless it is possible to describe some general characteristics that encompass both the faithful and the renegade among the literati. Catholic writers tend to see humanity struggling in a fallen world. They combine a longing for grace and redemption with a deep sense of human imperfection and sin. Evil exists, but the physical world is not evil. Nature is sacramental, shimmering with signs of sacred things. Indeed, all reality is mysteriously charged with the invisible presence of God. Catholics perceive suffering as redemptive, at least when borne in emulation of Christ’s passion and death. Catholics also generally take the long view of things—looking back to the time of Christ and the Caesars while also gazing forward toward eternity … Catholicism is also intrinsically communal, a notion that goes far beyond sitting at Mass with the local congregation, extending to a mystical sense of continuity between the living and the dead.

Dana Gioia, 2013

From Gerard Manly Hopkins to Francis Thompson to Joseph Mary Plunkett, our tradition is rich with the life of faith expressed through the language of poetry. On this page, we hope to bring to life poetry new and old that tells the story of faith through the lens and cadence of verse.

Latest from poetry corner

At Oxford Michael Symmons Roberts deliberately set out to demolish theism and the Spirit lead him elsewhere. He was soon to convert from atheism to Catholicism. A great Pentecost experience! Listen to Jairus from his 2004 Corpus. Words below:

So, God takes your child by the hand
and pulls her from her deathbed.
He says: ‘Feed her, she is ravenous.’

You give her fruits with thick hides
– pomegranate, cantaloupe –
food with weight, to keep her here.

You hope that if she eats enough
the light and dust and love
which weave the matrix of her body

will not fray, nor wear so thin
that morning sun breaks through her,
shadowless, complete.

Somehow this reanimation
has cut sharp the fear of death,
the shock of presence. Feed her

roast lamb, egg, unleavened bread:
forget the herbs, she has an aching
fast to break. Sit by her side,

split skins for her so she can gorge,
and notice how the dawn
draws colour to her just-kissed face.

Seamus Heaney, the Irish Nobel Laureate, bases his poem Miracle on Luke 5:17-26. Here is an interpretation read by the Irish musician Hozier: