Winter Gales (A sonnet)

Aeolus was not kind to this young pine
that prostrate lies, still green, beside the way.
Winter’s cold, lonely duties snapped its spine
as dancing light of dawn gave way to day.
My soul’s acute, scholarly aspiration
was like this pine, strong, green, and adolescent.
It has not crashed from Boreal spiration.
It withers slow, a moon no longer crescent.
My God, these hopes deferred have left me ill.
How long must I a craftsman only be?
I know not how these longings still to till,
when failure, when postponement’s all I see.
“Ask, ask, my son, seek seek what you desire,
I’ve promised this; I won’t be found a liar.”

March 7, 2021. Rocky Gap State Park, Maryland.

Poem: My Lover’s Eyes

My Lover’s eyes, they bade me hail,
as I awoke these winter days,
her dry, her thirsty lips did raise,
within my heart a heady gale.

The goad, the spur, the cattle prod,
Ambition’s yoke at last put off,
Anxiety I seem to doff,
as I behold her, grateful, awed.

The sparrows sing, the crows they caw,
Hivernus’ quiet winter song–
when all is right that once was wrong,
when all await the shepherds’ call.

My Lover, Wife, my Bride, my Sun,
for thee my eyes shine radiant blue,
in thee my soul is knit anew,
as in thy womb is knit our son.

Our Shepherd came one winter morn;
our lady lay him near a stall.
The shepherds came and sang in awe–
no more were Adam’s sons forlorn.

Let angels sing and wise men kneel,
hivernal nature prostrate lie.
In him our tears, our sorrows die
who bear the Shepherd’s rod and seal.

Sunday, December 13. In Middletown, Maryland, on retreat cum uxore.

CUA Christian Culture(s) in the Patristic Age (Presentation Link)

For my presentation today at Catholic University of America’s conference on “Christian Culture and Cultures in the Patristic Age,” I’ve created with the Greek and English text of the poem I’ll be discussing (Gregory of Nazianzus’ poem 1.1.11, On the Incarnation). I’m particularly exited to show off the capabilities of, an excellent annotation tool.

You may find the demo site here:

Gr. naz. Adv. iram 15–25

Below you’ll find nice Homeric simile in Gregory’s long iambic poem against anger (carm. 1.2.25). I treat this in the dissertation, and post my poetic rendering here. The text comes from PG 37, though I’ve consulted the readings of Oberhaus 1991.

δεῖ δ’, ὡς ἔοικε, μή τι μαλθακὸν λέγειν, [15]
κακοῦ τοσούτου τῷ λόγῳ προκειμένου·
ἀλλὡς πυρὸς βρέμοντος ἀγρίαν φλόγα,
πηδῶντος, αἰθύσσοντος ἐντινάγμασι
πολλοῖς, ἄνω ῥέοντος ἐμψύχῳ φορᾷ,
λάβρως ἀεὶ τὰ πρόσθεν οἰκειουμένου, [20]
ὕδωρ, κόνιν πέμποντας εὐνάσαι βίᾳ·
θῆρα λόχμης ἐκφανέντα συσκίου,
φρίσσοντα, πῦρ βλέποντα, ἐξαφρούμενον,
μάχης ἐρῶντα, καὶ φόνων καὶ πτωμάτων,
λόγχαις, κυνηγοῖς, σφενδόναις καταιχμάσαι [25]

For one must, as is meet, avoid all languor, [15]
when such an ill is set before one’s reason,
and quench, like those that dirt and water cast
against a fire that belches wild flame,
and leaps and jumps with numerous shakes,
and climbs aloft with motion from within
greedily making all that was its own; [20]
or slay, as hunters take the wild beast
with spears and slings, when it appears from deep
within the shadowed grove, with eyes ablaze
and hair erect, foam oozing from its mouth,
lusting for battle, corpses and their death. [25]


Oberhaus, M. 1991. Gregor von Nazianz. Gegen den Zorn : (carmen 1, 2, 25) : Einleitung und Kommentar. Paderborn: Schöningh.

Flux, Trinity, and Union- More From Gregory

I’ve decided to try my hand at a bit more from Gregory’s “On the Spirit.” (cf. here). This portion describes the Divine nature:

It is Triune Union,

It is Threefold Unity.

Neither stream, nor sea, nor rushing river,

One threefold flow rushing down against the earth.

Nor as a gleam of light, returning to its flame,

Nor as a word proceeding from the mind

        yet therein abides—

Nor as a ray of the sun dances

Upon the waters and the walls:

It whirls off before the approach,

Yet arrives before leaping away.

Divine nature knows no flux:

It neither flows apart nor returns to itself,

Eternal center, age to age it is.

And the Greek:

ἐκ μονάδος Τρίας ἐστι, καὶ ἐκ Τριάδος μονὰς αὖθις,     (60)

οὔτε πόρος, πηγή, ποταμὸς μέγας, ἕν τε ῥέεθρον

ἐν τρισσοῖσι τύποισιν ἐλαυνόμενον κατὰ γαίης·

οὔτε δὲ πυρκαϊῆς λαμπὰς πάλιν εἰς ἓν ἰοῦσα,

οὔτε λόγος προϊών τε νόου καὶ ἔνδοθι μίμνων,

οὔτε τις ἐξ ὑδάτων κινήμασιν ἡλιακοῖσι     (65)

μαρμαρυγή, τοίχοισι περίτρομος, ἀστατέουσα,

πρὶν πελάσαι φεύγουσα, πάρος φυγέειν πελάουσα,

οὐδὲ γὰρ ἄστατός ἐστι θεοῦ φύσις ἠὲ ῥέουσα

ἠὲ πάλιν συνιοῦσα· τὸ δ᾽ἔμπεδόν ἐστι θεοῖο.

The Homeric references are fewer. We do have some common homeric words show up (like the verb ἐλαύνω), and Homer does use similar language when discussing rivers. In its place, though, we get a series of negative descriptions; that is, they describe what God is not. Gregory tells us that the godhead is not like a rushing river, flowing in three parts. Nor is it a ray of light, that shoots forth and returns, or a beam of light dancing on the water. His point is stated at the end of the excerpt: the divine nature is not subject to change or flux. But even when describing what God is not, he uses lovely images. One vividly pictures light bouncing against the water off the walls of a city. Gregory is fond of employing light imagery for the trinity, and a few lines laters he says, “one nature, firmly established in three lights.” But here he paints a delightful picture, even as a negative description.

ἐν αὐτῷ,

The Homeric Line Damned by Christ: Critical Apparatus Humor

As I was reading book 24 of the Iliad today, I came up line 232:

{χρυσοῦ δὲ στήσας ἔφερεν δέκα πάντα τάλαντα,}

Meaning, “and standing, [Priam] bore all ten talents of gold.”

Since the line was in brackets, I looked down at the apparatus to see why the line was of questionable authenticity.  I was quite surprised to find this in the critical apparatus:

(= Τ 247) damn. Christ

Yikes!  This means that Christ has condemned this line, presumably because it is similar to book 19 line 247.  Not being familiar with the German philologist Wilhelm von Christ, it looked to me like Jesus had dabbled in Greek philology!

ἐν αὐτῷ,


On Poetics Or Music That I like

I find myself frustrated with most mainstream contemporary Christian music. I wish it weren’t so, if only because it is so ubiquitous! Some of it is the lyrics, some is just the musical style. However, there are some less well known artists that I absolutely love (though it probably wouldn’t be right to lump them into the CCM genre). One of my favorite artists is John Mark McMillan. His most popular song is ‘How He Loves,’ though most people don’t know that he wrote it.  It’s been covered by several artists, most notably David Crowder Band.

You may not care for the music (it’s a mix of folk and rock, often reminiscent of Springsteen), but his lyrics are amazing. I happen to like the music, but his poetry is amazing.  His most recent album, “The Medicine” is basically an extended meditation on the resurrection of the dead.  One of my favorite songs is “Death in His Grave,” where you get “He has cheated / Hell and seated / us above the fall.”  Or in “Skeleton Bones,” where you get “Skeleton Bones / stand at the sound of eternity on / the lips of the found / yeah gravestones roll / to the rhythm of the sound of you.”  He’s got several videos up on his blog,  including the story behind “How He loves.”  Do yourself a favor and check out his music!