Sunday, May 25, 2014

Christianity and Culture

Long live the weeds  by Theodore Roethke

Long live the weeds that overwhelm
My narrow vegetable realm! - 
The bitter rock, the barren soil
That force the son of man to toil;
All things unholy, marked by curse,
The ugly of the universe.
The rough, the wicked, and the wild
That keep the spirit undefiled.
With these I match my little wit
And earn the right to stand or sit,
Hope, look, create, or drink and die:
These shape the creature that is I.

This is a great poem. But as soon as I read it, I was sad. Do you think that could be published in the New Yorker today? I don't think so - because the average literate American would no longer understand even these straightforward Biblical allusions.



  1. Though most biographers conclude Churchill was an unbeliever and he rarely attended worship his writings ooze with Biblical, churchly, and liturgical allusions. One Sunday afternoon in explicating some point to his staff he made a reference to "today's Gospel" from which he quoted verbatim at length. A staff member who had attended mass that morning realized it was indeed from that day's Gospel lesson, which Churchill had not only correctly quoted, but had placed on the correct Sunday.

  2. Long live the weeds by the Luther Bible

    Long live the "weeds" that overwhelm
    My inter-Testamental realm!
    The "bitter" rock, the "barren" soil
    That forced bronzed fumes and censure-toil;
    'Twas deemed "unholy," marked by curse,
    The "ugly" of chapter and verse ...
    Still, these I pair my canon wit
    E'en say "good read" to dear Tobit.
    So while protestants rant and cry:
    These shape the creature that is I.


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