While searching for a poem to pair with a presentation I recently gave, I came across this moving selection titled "Prayer," from Dana Gioia's outstanding collection The Gods of Winter (1991). It's a very Catholic poem that, in its honesty and authenticity, carries the intensity of a Psalm. This is a faith that is wrestling, searching, and not giving up.
Echo of the clocktower, footstep
in the alleyway, sweep
of the wind sifting the leaves.
Jeweller of the spiderweb, connoisseur
of autumn's opulence, blade of lightning
harvesting the sky.
Keeper of the small gate, choreographer
of entrances and exits, midnight
whisper travelling the wires.
Seducer, healer, deity, or thief,
I will see you soon enough--
in the shadow of the rainfall,
in the brief violet darkening a sunset --
but until then I pray watch over him
as a mountain guards its covert ore
and the harsh falcon its flightless young.
I also discovered that the great composer Morten Lauridsen set this poem to music. Enjoy:
Napoleon’s consolidation of power in France in 1801 involved the recognition of the pope as the “ordinary and immediate pastor” of the universal church—a key component in the impending agreement between the Vatican and China.