I’ve recently come across the poet Geoffrey Hill.  He’s an atheist, but I find some of his ‘religious’ poems full of beauty and insight, and so wonderfully constructed they make my spirit sing!

What is there in my heart that you should sue
so fiercely for its love?  What kind of care
brings you as though a stranger to my door
through the long night and in the icy dew

seeking the heart that will not harbour you,
that keeps itself religiously secure?
At this dark solstice filled with frost and fire
your passion’s ancient wounds must bleed anew.

So many nights the angel of my house
has fed such urgent comfort through a dream,
whispered ‘your lord is coming, he is close’

that I have drowsed half-faithful for a time
bathed in pure tones of promise and remorse:
‘tomorrow I shall wake to welcome him.’

(After Lope de Vega)


(image from http://www.cervantesdesign.com/revelations/revelation3_20.htm )


4 thoughts on “WHAT IS THERE IN MY HEART …

    1. I’m interested in some of the ideas of the ‘new, new atheists’ eg Alain de Botton, who is wanting to take what he considers useful about religion and reinterpret it for atheists: psychotherapists instead of priests, is one of his ideas.


      1. Alain De Botton has many interesting ideas, but the psychotherapists intead of priests idea is not a good one. Maybe when one knows therapists as well as I do, one is a bit more cynical… As to the need for a priest like person who represents morality and the divine combined, this is another bad idea. However, what’s clear is the need of most people to believe in something.


      2. He reckons that people take to the therapist the same kind of problems as ‘we would previously have directed at a priest: emotional confusion, loss of meaning, temptations … anxiety about morality’ (article by him in the New Statesman called ‘We have too often secularised badly’).

        I guess a lot depends on what someone thinks a priest is, and what he/she is for. I wouldn’t ever describe one as ‘representative of morality and the divine’, although I can see what you’re getting at.


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