The Very Poetic Very's
WELCOME TO TODAY'S WORSHIP SERVICE BY THE SWEDENBORGIAN ON-LINE COMMUNITY
August 22, 2010
POETRY AS PRAYER:
The Very Poetic Very's
Pt. 1: Alice Very
Light a candle
Go Tell It On A Mountain
FROM THE BIBLE
11What goes into a man's mouth does not make him 'unclean,' but what comes out of his mouth, that is what makes him 'unclean.' "
12Then the disciples came to him and asked, "Do you know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this?"
13He replied, "Every plant that my heavenly Father has not planted will be pulled up by the roots. 14Leave them; they are blind guides.[e] If a blind man leads a blind man, both will fall into a pit."
15Peter said, "Explain the parable to us."
16"Are you still so dull?" Jesus asked them. 17"Don't you see that whatever enters the mouth goes into the stomach and then out of the body? 18But the things that come out of the mouth come from the heart, and these make a man 'unclean.' 19For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander. 20These are what make a man 'unclean'; but eating with unwashed hands does not make him 'unclean.' "
80. Nothing that a person only thinks, not even what he thinks
to will, is appropriated to him unless he also wills it so that he does
it when opportunity offers. For when a man then does it, he does it
from the will by the understanding or from affection of the will by
thought of the understanding. If it is something thought only, it
cannot be appropriated, for the understanding does not conjoin
itself to the will, or the thought of the understanding to the
affection of the will, but the latter with the former, as we have
shown many times in the treatise Divine Love and Wisdom, chapter
5. This is meant by the Lord’s words: Not that which enters the mouth
renders a man unclean, but that which goes forth from the heart by the
mouth renders a man unclean (Matt. 15:11, 17–19).
From rationality a man can understand and from liberty he can will,
doing each as of himself. Yet he does not have the ability to will
good in freedom and to do it in accord with reason unless he is
regenerated. Divine Providence #87
Pt. 1: Alice Very
Frank's uncle was Jones Very, a very respected Transcendental poet whom Emersonc compared to Swedenborg.
This week we'll talk about Alice, and next week we'll look at her great Uncle Jonas.
First, it should be said, there is little information about Alice in the public domain. I learned of her through Alice Skinner's research in Continuing Vision, as a poet influenced by Swedenborg. Then I heard from an active member of our own web community, Gwynne Griswold, that Alice Very had been her aunt!
In this series of prayful poets influenced by Swedenborg, I have been able to learn about the poets through internet searches. In the case of Alice, I have only found her father Frank and her great-uncle Jones on-line. Fortunately, our own Gwynne has been very helpful at providing information about Alice. Perhaps others of you will know something about Alice to add to our few resources.
Alice grew up in the Swedenborgian churches of Boston and Providence. When she was married, there was a crisis in the family: her mother-in-law Mary Hosmer Brown contracted TB. Her father-in-law and her husband both became Christian Scientists in an effort to cure her. Alice converted to Christian Science as well. Later in life she tried to become a Christian Science practitioner, but felt that she did not have the talent to cure others. In her latter years, she read Swedenborg's Divine Love and Wisdom. Then she told her mother that if she had read that book at a younger age, she would have stayed Swedenborgian.
Gwynne has generously loaned me a copy of Alice's final book, Write on the Water. Gwynne points out that much of Alice's poetry is bitter and sad. She was poor through much ofher life, and she lost a child to drowning.
Ms. Griswold also discusses her aunt Alice in the article "Just When Did I Start Acting Like My Mother," published in Rooted in Spirit: A Harvest of Women's Wisdom. Griswold writes:
"She had a degree from Wellesley College, a husband starting a publishing business, five children, a large vegetable garden, and a pressure cooker for preserving. She was expected to be an unpaid proofreader and editor for her husband's publishing business. I remember her with galley proofs in one hand and a wooden spoon in the other, stirring a pot on the stove. Yet she frequently found time to care for me for my mother, include us in family outlings, and generally enrich our lives." [p. 150]
Certainly the most profound Swedenborgian influence in Alice's lfe was her father, Frank [1852-1927]. He was an astronomer who had graduated from the Massachussetts Institute of Technology. He was a professor at Western University of Pennsylvania, and then acting director of the Ladd Observatory at Brown University.
Mars and the moon both have craters named after him. Frank wrote several books about Swedenborg, which can still be obtained on-line.
This is a poem that Alice wrote in honor of her father:
No portrait could do justice to my father,
--with the possible exception of the Great Stone Face.
He might have been a last survivor
of the Cro-Magnan, that magnificant race
whose heads were bigger than ours and who invented
so many useful things we take for granted.
He might have been a man from Mars; he went
there more than once via the spectroscope;
or rocketed to the moon via a telescope bore;
--her caves were his familiar haunts.
Yet not content
with the stars, he must explore
the geography of heaven, his element,
with Swedenborg, who took him by the hand.
He had no Beatrice, that is sure.
his Dulcinea, the lady whose command
is to the few whose sciences are pure,
whose name he wrote.
are an experience of worship for you.
WHOM HAVE I BUT THEE?
Have you any joy
but of God's bestowing?
Have you any refuge
but in Him?
Though the world destroy
does not He remain?
Can He who gave the seed
forget His children's need?
sow in vain?
Oh, be still, be patient,
learn by pray,
and wait for wisdom, knowing
nothing can stop the seed from growing;
nothing of men's devising
can stop the sun from rising,
hinder its course, or speed.
Let Him, uncompromising,
lead each in His own way,
till in the dawn's first whitening
the Truth bursts forth like lightening --
We walk by faith
more than by sight;
foot feels the trail,
hand holds tight.
a treetop choir,
veery and whitethroat
beside us sing;
pointing the way
by the woodland spring
Beyond the path
on the bare rock height
stretches uninterrupted blue.
Earth falls away
with its blight and care
and only the light
Mountains, heaven's blazes,
footprints of peace!
Eye can't contain
all it takes in,
unfolding plan --
where sight leaves off
CLOSING SONGYou'll Never Walk Alone
Extinguish your candle.
Close the Bible
Go forth, praising God with prayers, poems, music, and/or songs.
LEARN MORE ABOUT POETS WITH SWEDENBORGIAN CONNECTIONS