Catholic Poems

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Please list any and all good poems…

Also, does anyone know the poem by Hillaire Belloc… that goes:

“Noel, Noel, Noel, Noel… A Catholic tale have I to tell…”
Luke 24:13-35
By Father Ed Beutner, OFM

Two disciples, nameless (for now).
Their faces not revealed.
Call them meanwhile, “You” and “I.”
Two disciples, you and I are.
Walking for a while. Smiles behind us since Friday –
When he died.
Neither you nor I cried … for years … really cried.
And now the tears come freely and unwilled.
The news that never ought to happen has been brought:
“Jesus killed.”
You and I are discussing what it meant.
How we’d manage.
Why we’d trusted in the first place.
How in being lifted up…
He had let us down.
Wondering how somebody strong as he could have this weakness.
He always gave himself away.
We agree, you and I … one to one.
He’d have managed better if he’d had it planned!
Two disciples, you and I.
Still traveling home to Emmaus.
Our hearts and feelings still unraveling.
Find a stranger.
Never mind his name, his face is kind.
Take him in our stride and pour out to him all the soreness of our story.
All the dryness of our wrung out souls and eyes.
He consoles.
He understands our eyes still burning, blinded by our woe.
He starts to go away.
You and I together say, “Stay with us!”
“At least … sit down and eat!”
Two disciples, you and I
Trying to be polite,
Give him bread.
He breaks.
And gives it back.
He gives himself away.
And sight he gives to burning eyes. And then leaves us.
So it seems.
Not alone,
But leaves us.
With a hundred thousand dreams.
Please list any and all good poems…

Also, does anyone know the poem by Hillaire Belloc… that goes:

“Noel, Noel, Noel, Noel… A Catholic tale have I to tell…”
From Catholic Tales and Christian Songs:

*“Nowell, nowell, nowell, nowell,
A Catholic tale have I to tell,
And a Christian song have I to sing
While all the bells in Arundel ring.”
  • H. Belloc.*
Gerard Manley Hopkins
(The Blessed Virgin Compared to the Air We Breath)
In Poems and Prose

Wild air, world-mothering air,
Nestling me everywhere,
That each eyelash or hair
Girdles; goes home betwixt
The fleeciest, frailest-flixed
Snowflake; that’s fairly mixed
With, riddles, and is rife
In every least thing’s life;
This needful, never spent,
And nursing element;
My more than meat and drink,
My meal at every wink;
This air, which, by life’s law,
My lung must draw and draw
Now but to breathe its praise,
Minds me in many ways
Of her who not only
Gave God’s infinity
Dwindled to infancy
Welcome in womb and breast,
Birth, milk, and all the rest
But mothers each new grace
That does now reach our race-
Mary Immaculate,
Merely a woman, yet
Whose presence, power is
Great as no goddess’s
Was deemed, dreamed; who
This one work has to do-
Let all God’s glory through,
God’s glory which would go
Through her and from her flow
Off, and no way but so
This one’s in my wheelhouse. I am a graduate student in English and American literature, and my focus is on religion and literature (particularly Catholicism!). There is a rich tradition of Catholic and religious poetry, specifically from the 14th Century and the English Renaissance (16th and 17th Centuries).

Probably the most famous Catholic poets in the English language are:

T.S. Eliot
Richard Crashaw
Gerard Manley Hopkins
Geoffrey Chaucer

Eliot is a famous convert, a modernist American poet who wrote “The Wasteland.” Among his more famous religious poems is “Ash Wednesday.”

Richard Crashaw is a former Anglican priest, and one of the most famous purely Catholic poets (he wrote little secular poetry). He is in the continental baroque tradition, with many meditations upon the passion. He was also in the Counter-Reformation tradition, and had a great reverence for the Blessed Virgin and St. Teresa of Avila (writing a famous poem about her religious ectasy, “The Flaming Heart” a few years before Bernini’s famous/infamous sculpture). Crashaw is part of the metaphysical school, so the language is rich in metaphor and the poetry has many layers of meaning and is intellectually challenging.

Hopkins was a Jesuit priest, from the Victorian era. He is most well known for his extremely melodic style.

Chaucer, of course, wrote a lot of poetry that was critical of the Church, however, there are hints of devotion, especially in characters such as the Parson from “The Canterbury Tales.”

Some other metaphysical poets from the early 17th century, such as John Donne, George Herbert, Henry Vaughn, and Ben Johnson wrote profound religious poetry, and virtually all of them either flirted with Catholicism or were Catholic at one point. Donne and Herbert were High Anglican priests.

Some good poems:

Donne’s Sonnet 5 and Sonnet 14 from “Holy Sonnets” are very “Catholic” poems. George Herbert is amazing, though the least Catholic, but poems like “The Collar” are simply stunning. Both Donne and Johnson were Catholic, but converted to Anglicanism under the immense political pressure of the time.

Finally, translated works by saints can certainly qualify. St. John of the Cross is a famous religious poet, and I would argue very strongly that sections of St. Faustina’s Diary, such as section 163, qualify as breathtaking devotional poetry.

All of the aforementioned poets (save the saints) may be found with the full text of many (if not most) of their poems at . I hope this helps! Fell free to message me if you want more info on any of these or other poets!
Well, I have a poem that could probably also be considered a religious one…the author of it is not well known, nor is the poem even published…because I wrote it myself just months ago. I know it may not have much to do with theology or anything like that, it’s just a story really… but even though it’s a bit long, I think that all of you may enjoy it.

Part One of My Epic Poem (Still trying to decide on an exact title…it’ll come to me though, I’m still writing additional parts to it)

A long time ago on a cool serene day
I wandered through the countryside for somewhere to play.
I walked among the trees, healthy and lean,
and explored grassy meadows, a beautiful green.
Soon I became tired and my legs needed rest,
so I leaned against a tree under a bird’s nest.
My eyelids grew heavy, and I soon sank into sleep
in peace and sound mind, for my slumber was deep.

My rest wouldn’t be long, as I soon found out
when I woke up and saw her walking about.
It was the woman I saw who had caught my eye
because she had brilliant wings with which she could fly.
She was a pretty young woman, shapely and fair,
with a radiant face and long golden hair.
Then she noticed me and for a moment she gazed,
looking me over as if I was being appraised.
But before I had the chance to speak
she sprinted away and I tried to seek
the fascinating winged angel who fled so fast
until she halted in a meadow at last.

The look on her face was really quite sad.
No calm or bliss-none if this she had.
With tears in her eyes, she pointed to the sky so clear,
and what I saw as I gazed up filled me with wonder and fear.
One side of the sky was filled with creatures pure,
all of them heavenly, for they were evil’s cure.
There were beautiful angels and eagles proud
leading an army of birds, and I almost bowed
before that righteous winged army right there,
but then I saw something that gave me a scare.

The other side of the sky was a horrible sight
of horrid monsters, the creatures of night.
There were bats, harpies, locusts and bees
and ugly scaled dragons much larger than trees.
For miles they spread their wretched smell
since they were pulled from the depths of hell.
They all gathered together into a swarming legion.
The hideous vermin were planning a siege in
the vast realm of the darkening sky
with demons sprouting wings, ready to fly.

Then the two sides clashed and battled
with such intensity it left me shaken and rattled.
It was a very long, very intense fight
of good versus evil, of darkness versus light.
And then to my horror the angel joined in
in the epic battle to fight against sin.
I tried to stop her and cried “Please don’t go!
What can you do against so evil a foe?!”
But up she flew, and then she let out a wail
quick and high-pitched, like the cry of a quail.

Down she fell, down from the sky.
Her wings were broken and she couldn’t fly.
She landed in my arms and then I cried,
“Because of those monsters, my angel friend died!
For this, I swear by the light of the day
for this crime, they shall now pay!!”
By some work of a miracle or magic
wings sprouted out from my back.
Without hesitation, up I flew
and several beasts I instantly slew.

I kept fighting through night until dawn
and I didn’t stop until they were all gone.
Then to my joy the angel returned
and it was at that moment that I then learned
she was only knocked out and didn’t really die
and out of relief I let out a long sigh.
She then flew up and spoke to me
with a smile in her face showing much glee.
“You, young boy, are a brave lad.
You defended the good and helped slay the bad.
Evil has lost, their mission has failed.
Because of you, good has prevailed.”

“Now I have something that I must reveal:
All this was a dream, none of it real.
You’ve proven yourself as a righteous man
who would never take a side with an evil clan.
Now wake up and arise from your nap,
for I’ve left you a gift lying on your lap!
It will be simple, as you will soon see,
yet always shall it bring back your memory of me.”

At that moment my eyes opened wide.
When I recalled the dream I then sighed,
Pondering and wondering what it could have meant,
and let out a gasp when I found the gift was sent.
There in my lap lay a feather smooth and white
to always remind me of the angel and the fight.

~Max Reid
Here is one of mine

It is actually the words to a chant type song I thought might be good for pro life march’s

Grief it binds my hart in chains
Anchors it in sorrow
There is no greater loss on earth
Than the child not here tomorrow

In the psalms you tell us Lord
You knew us in the womb
So we pray to you our God
For the children gone so soon
Jesus Christ our loving savior
Let us walk within your grace
We pray that all will know you
In the unborn Childs face.

Holy Spirit give us wisdom
Holy Spirit help us teach
The love of God for every child
From the moment their conceived

copywrite M. Scott Shelton Mar 2000

Here are two favorites. The first was written by Father John Bannister Tabb:
“A little Child of Heav’nly birth
Is far from home today,
Looking for His ball, the earth,
Which sin has cast away.
Oh, comrades, let us one and all
Join in and get Him back His ball.”

I don’t know who wrote the other one, but I used to love hearing Bishop Sheen say it:

Lovely Lady, dressed in blue, teach me how to pray.
God was just your Little Boy, tell me what to say.
Did you lift Him us sometimes, gently on your knee?
Did you sing to Him the way mother does to me?
Did you hold His hand at night? Did you ever try
Telling stories of the world? Oh, and did He cry?
Do you really think He cares if I tell Him things -
Little things that happen and do the angels’ wings
Make a noise? Can he hear me if I speak low?
Does He understand me now? Tel me, for you know.
Lovely Lady, dressed in blue, teach me how to pray.
God was just your Little Boy, and you know the Way.
A young shepherd is alone and grave,

Alien to joy and happiness,

And thinking of his shepherdess

his heart is sorely hurt by love.

He doesn’t weep at being lost

In love or wakening to pain,

Although his heart is sorely maimed;

He weeps thinking he is forgot.

Merely the thought that his sweet friend

Forgot him is a painful sword;

Letting himself be hurt abroad

His wounds of love can never end.

The shepherd cries: O misery of

her distance from my love, and she

no longer cares to be near me!

My heart is sorely hurt by love!

A long time passed: he climbed the branches of

A tree and spread his lovely arms,

And dead lay hanging from his arms;

His heart was sorely hurt by love.
John of the Cross
Pregnant with the holy
Word will come the Virgin
walking down the road
if you will take her in

All things of the Maker
forgotten-but not Him;
exploration within,
and loving the Lover

both by John of the Cross
I love T.S. Eliot’s “Ash Wednesday”

I found it here with a Google search. His cat poems are great too, but they are not religious.

Caryll Houselander was a great Catholic author and poet, (she died in the 1960s sometime I think)

“Kiss of Christ” is one of my favorite poems, and is attributed to her, I would love to find out where it was first published. I have seen it other places attributed to other people, but a friend remembers learning it at Franciscan U in an English class and says it really was hers…

“Kiss of Christ”

There he hangs — pale figure pinned against the wood.
God grant that I could love Him as I really know I should.
I draw a little closer to share that love Divine
And almost hear Him whisper, “Ah foolish child of Mine!
If I should now embrace you, My hands would stain you red.
And if I leaned to whisper, the thorns would pierce your head.”
And then I knew in silence that love demands a price
'twas then I learned that suffering is but the kiss of Christ.
Caryll Houselander

I also recommend the works of Rudyard Kipling thou I don’t know If he was Catholic.

Some of his works have a Catholic flavor to them.

There is something about Kipling that really calls out to most veterans and soldiers.

From Hymn before Action.

Ah, Mary pierced with sorrow,
Remember, reach and save
The soul that comes to-morrow
Before the God that gave!
Since each was born of woman,
For each at utter need –
True comrade and true foeman –
Madonna, intercede!

The best Christian poet of the last 100 years has got to be T.S. Eliot, by far. He was Anglican (but of the “High Church” kind, so I guess technically he was 99% Catholic). His greatest poems are The Four Quartets and The Wasteland. The Christian worldview runs throughout most of his work. IMHO he probably would have actually converted to being Catholic if he would have lived long enough to see Anglicanism go to the gutter.
Another Hilaire Belloc verse -

Wherever the Catholic sun doth shine,
There’s always laughter and good red wine.
At least I’ve always found it so.
Benedicamus Domino!
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