© 2017 Jeff Guess

xxii. Signs and Wonders

August 1, 2017

Fire:

c.1200, furen, figurative, "arouse, excite;" literal sense of "set fire to" is from late 14c., from fire (n.).

Solstice

 

I lit the fire early in a grate of ice

fruit wood and wrist-thick old briar

catching quickly and climbing in coils

spreading along the ceiling of the low roofed sky.

 

I pulled an old garden chair to its rough hearth

to the spit and hiss of rose oil

and the sweet fume of sawn apricot and peach

sunk in a warm corner of the garden framed with cold.

 

Inertia was everything, moving only for books and coffee

my breath a small bellows in the aching air

late afternoon the grass still rimed with white

a gathering shortness drew up the flight of hours

 

to the dark squat chimney of the evening and the coals

of morning, a ramble of rose hips and bright orange fruit.

 

Jeff Guess

 

Reflection:

            In 1861 Ju­lia W. Howe wrote “the Battle Hymn of the Republic’. This hymn was born dur­ing the Amer­i­can ci­vil war, when Howe vis­it­ed a Un­ion Ar­my camp on the Po­to­mac Riv­er near Wash­ing­ton, D. C. She heard the sol­diers sing­ing the song “John Brown’s Body,” and was tak­en with the strong march­ing beat. She wrote the words the next day:

            I awoke in the grey of the morn­ing, and as I lay wait­ing for dawn, the long lines of the de­sired po­em be­gan to en­twine them­selves in my mind, and I said to my­self, “I must get up and write these vers­es, lest I fall asleep and for­get them!” So I sprang out of bed and in the dim­ness found an old stump of a pen, which I re­mem­bered us­ing the day be­fore. I scrawled the vers­es al­most with­out look­ing at the p­aper.

            Many of the verses are charged with images of fire.

 Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord;

He is trampling out the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored;

He hath loosed the fateful lightning of His terrible swift sword;

His truth is marching on.

Glory! Glory! Hallelujah! Glory! Glory! Hallelujah!

Glory! Glory! Hallelujah! His truth is marching on.

 

I have seen Him in the watch fires of a hundred circling camps

They have builded Him an altar in the evening dews and damps;

I can read His righteous sentence by the dim and flaring lamps;

His day is marching on.

Glory! Glory! Hallelujah! Glory! Glory! Hallelujah!

Glory! Glory! Hallelujah! His day is marching on.


Reading:

           Gospel of the Saviour: 107: 12 (noncanonical)

‘If anyone is near to me, he will burn. I am the fire that blazes; who is near to me, is near to the fire; who is far from me, is far from life.’

 

                Gospel of Phillip; 71 (noncanonical)

The soul and the spirit are born of water and of the fire.

 

Prayer:

Give me oil in my lamp,

Keep me burning,

Give me oil in my lamp, I pray.

Give me oil in my lamp,

Keep me burning,

Keep me burning

Till the break of day.

Chorus:

Sing hosanna! sing hosanna!

Sing hosanna to the King of kings!

Sing hosanna! sing hosanna!

Sing hosanna to the King!

                        Traditional American

 

©Jeff Guess 2017

 

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