Poetry

By Brian Cleeve

Love

Love is kindness
But kindness is not enough.
Love is warmth
But warmth is not enough.
Love must be tender,
But tenderness is not enough.
Love is selfless giving,
But that is not enough.
Love is a passion
But passion is not enough.
Love is Wisdom,
The wisdom to protect the
Beloved even against
Herself.
All that is human love.
But then there is the Love of God.
That love is absolute.
It is all things that love can be.

The Flame

The flame leaps and turns
In brilliant arabesques
Of golden fire;
Then for a moment burns
As gently as the setting sun –
While always within –
From pity for our weakness
That demands familiar beauty, -
She shows Her beloved face,
Her human form,
Half-shadow, half reality –
Her hair that burns
Like autumn gold,
Red golden leaves;
Her eyes filled with sadness
At our fallen state,
Her mouth carved in tenderness
And love –
Until the flame burns
So bright
Her shadow beauty
Vanishes
As stars vanish
In the glory of the sun
And She is all flame,
All Burning Bright,
All Burning Holiness.

(In Hebrew the word Seraph means “The Burning One”)

Trust

You wonder,
Do I trust you?
See my heart!
I lay it naked
In your hands
To crush
Or throw away,
If you were of that kind
That does such
Things to hearts.

But I trust you
Utterly,
For I know your mind.
I know its beauty,
All its gentleness,
Its love.

See my soul!
I lay it at your feet
To tread on,
Kick aside
In scorn
If you were of that
Cruel temperament –
(And how many such
There are! As we well know!)

But see!
I trust you utterly
For I know
Your tenderness,
Your sweet love
That you pour
Out on all who come,
Like a pure fountain,
Endlessly renewed.

Do you still
Doubt my trust?
Here is a silken thread
That is my life,
And here,
Sharp as a razor,
Is a keen knife
Whose simplest touch
Will sever thread
And life
In one.

Take both!
And I will leave
Both in your keeping,
Not for a day,
Not yet a year,
But for ever –
Waking, sleeping,
Heart, soul, my very life
In your dear hands.
Is this not trust enough?

The Prisoner

Beloved, hear my prayer –
Accept me as Your least prisoner,
Worthless, but to be kept closer
Than the worst of men.
Shackle me hand and foot
So that I may take no step further
Until You loose me for that moment.

Set a scold’s bridle
On my wretched tongue,
Locked fast with seven locks
So that I may not speak
A syllable until the seventh key
Has turned.

And on my impatient mind
Set an iron cage
So that no thought
Can stretch its wings
Until You say “Yes!
Fly free!” and open
The cage’s door.

I am not fit for freedom.
Not for one moment –
My foot would stumble,
My hand let fall
What it should hold.
My tongue – oh wretched
Traitor to my hoped salvation!
How it betrays me
Time and time again!
While my thoughts!
Oh Mistress, Make me Your prisoner
And save my soul!

The Lioness

Resolute,
Lion-hearted,
Wings of Victory,
Pacing the Castle Tower
On guard.

How my heart lifts
To see her there!
Her eyes turn to me
In love,
Companionship
Full of God’s
Holy gaiety.
And my soul sings
In answer.

Nor is she only Lioness,
All strength and majesty –
She’s a young warrior
Swift Valkyrie,
Carrying God’s Holy Sword.
She holds it out to Him,
Arm’s length,
Hand gripping the blade
Below the Cross
In homage, fealty,
Loyalty of service,
Of all right doing
That He desires of her.

How shall her sword be used?
In vengeance? Never!
But to protect the weak,
Strike terror into malice
Its blade a burning flame.

The Derelict

I saw a man asleep
On wet stone steps,
His body hunched in misery.
Did sleep bring ease to him,
Or evil dreams?
Who in God’s Name could help him?
Gift of what?
Money for more oblivion?
Prayers?
“Jesus loves you, friend!
Come pray with me!”
Oh no! Oh no!
Ten million hypocrites
Have said those words
And passed by on the other side.
Ten million more have meant them,
Taken the poor wretch
Into the Mission Hall
And fed him soup and piety.
“Read this tract, friend!
God’s own Gospel! Kneel and pray!”

All goodness. All sincerity.
All love.
And yet –
Some missing thing
That leaves an emptiness,
Faith, hope, charity,
All there.
What is it that is not?

Why, sanctity.
That burning flame of love
That turns all things
Into gold;
That sees in that derelict
Not vice to be redeemed,
Not sin and drunkenness
To be forgiven –
But God’s own Son.

Love

Oh, my darling!
My beloved!
How can words
Tell my love
For you?
Only the burning
Of my heart
Could tell.
Only that flame of love
That is my soul.

The Plan

All things are in God’s Hands
All.
Good, evil, He makes use of all,
Turns it towards Perfection,
Burns out the dross,
The evil alloy
Until it shines pure gold.

You see misfortune,
Tragedy.
He sees redemption there,
The opening of the Way.

You see failure,
Sin, despair.
He sees a sleep
That will awaken
As new hope,
As faith born again.

Love

Where she goes
Love grows
As if her slender feet
Bestowed a blessing
On the ground
At every step.
Oh! See that wild rose
That tells; “She passed this way!”

Love Grows

Love grows.
So small a seed
In its beginning,
Smaller than that
Mustard seed
The Gospel tells of.
And like that tiny seed
It grows into a tree
Where the birds of the air
Can shelter,
And under which
The shepherd finds
His shade.

But more! But more!
No single tree
Grows from the seed
Of love,
But a great forest
Where tigers dwell
And all the creatures
Born in innocence.

And you and I
Live there
New Adam and new Eve
In Paradise.

Oh, is it blasphemy
To claim such names
To praise our love?
Will Jesus and His lovely Mother
Grudge them to us?

No, surely not,
But instead
They will look down on You
In tenderness
While me
They will forgive
Because I love You,
You who are
Their wondrous gift to me.

Beggar Woman

A beggar woman in the street
Rain falling,
Crouched on the pavement
Scarcely a passer-by.
And those few hurrying home
To warm fires
And supper
And laughter on television.

What can I do for you?
Nothing. Nothing.
What can I give you?
Nothing that will change your life.

Money for an hour’s forgetfulness?
Bread, wine?
Oh my loving God
How can I pass by?

Is it You crouched there
In her misery?
Is it You My Lord?
My Lady?

M

My Love is Gentle

Does tenderness describe my love?
Tenderness of heart and soul?
And gentleness? Oh yes, oh yes, and
Tender beyond telling.

Loyalty of heart she has
That beyond all measure.
And courage too and bravery
Such as songs are made of.

While as for beauty, mirrors love,
To hold her dear reflection.
And is she kind, this gentle one?
Oh! Kindness is her calling!

But can I find one word to tell
All of her together?
Or does it need ten litanies
To sing all her praises?

Why! Ten would never be enough,
Nor twenty, nor a hundred!
And yet, and yet, there is one word,
And I have truly found it!

“Love” it is. Love and love.
Loving, loving, loving.
Soul of love. Heart of love.
Holy, holy, holy Love
God’s Holy gift of Loving.
M

Joy of Loving

Here am I to sing to you
My darling companion.
Here am I to dance for you,
My brave one, my loyal one.

Here am I to kneel to you
Most beautiful of ladies
Here am I to kiss your hands
Joyous in my loving.

Here am I to hold you close
Marvelling at my daring
Here am I to kiss your mouth
Sweetness beyond dreaming.

Here am I to lay you down
Ecstasy of loving
Warmth of love, purest love,
Tenderness of loving.

Oh my darling! Oh my dear one!
Sweetest of companions!
Gentle, loyal, lion heart,
Bravery of loving.

Let me enter you, my heart,
Let me live within you.
Let me give you joy at morning
Give you loving joy at night.

Let me be your soul’s companion
Dancing for you, dancing with you,
Singing with you, singing for you,
Kissing, loving, close and closer
One with you for always.

M

Sacrifice

Here is my heart
On fire with love for You.
My soul the flames
My life the fuel
My obedience the stake
To which my self is bound.

Beloved let me feel the fire,
Offer the pain to You my executioner.
What worse can I deserve? Let
Me endure it. Burn with passion.
Passion of devotion, passion
Of sacrifice, passion of
Surrender. Passion of Love.

All that I have is Yours
All was Your gift to me
And I return it on my knees.
Beside the altar that is Your
Holiness.
Allow me to die for You Beloved.

Allow me to walk with You
My darling, hand in hand
Through the darkened land
Take my soul as a cloak for You
Against the cold of evil
And my heart as sandals for
Your dear feet against the
Stones and thorns of the
World’s hatred.

My obedience a shield
Against the fury of Satan
My love for you a sword to
Defend You. Let me shed
My life’s blood for You
Live for You and at last
Die for You.

Thank You my dearest

I have a song to sing
My dearest my darling
A song for You of love
And thankfulness.
For all You have given me
And in return allow me to
Sing to You, my heart
To become music.
A crystal fountain of
Love and tenderness
Rising up to You as a lark
Soars into the sky
The blue of Heaven
All my soul must be in my singing
My life a silverbell ringing
In gratitude
For all my days
All Your gifts to me
Of love and friendship
To see You in the eyes
Of my companions
Your dear children
Who have accepted me
Among them, given
This love to me
Your love that
Surrounds them
In a joyous aura
As this sweet scent
Surrounds a vase of roses
I will live my life for them
And my next life for You
To serve You for ever.

What have I learned in all the years since You came to me?
Only about love
And about You Beloved.
What is love?
Love is giving,
Giving all,
Never taking,
Never desiring.
Always offering,
Love is surrender,
Love is sacrifice.
The laying of the self at the Altar of Your Will.
Love is Obedience to Your Will.
Love is acceptance of Your Will.
Love is All that is good.
Patience, Courage, Love is holiness
Love is kindness, gentleness.
Tenderness of heart.
What have I learned of You my darling?
Your Beauty, and Your loneliness, Your pain.