For Bramhall, March 2013

A HANDWRITTEN CARD found amongst the papers of the late poet Sally Purcell bears the following anonymous and unsourced quotation:

Y sobre todo tendras / los regalos de mi pecho, / las finezas de mi amor, la verdad de mi deseo …

a translation of which is

And above all you have / gifts from my breast, / the subtleties of my love, the truth of my desire

  • the Epigraph in Sally Purcell’s Collected Poems

It’s possible, sometimes, to fall especially for anonymous poetry. The world’s sacred scriptures are full of it. Our ancient forebears believed that poetry (from the Greek for “to make”) carried the Word of the un-nameable maker, the breath, the creativity, the encouragement, the enthusiasm (the from-God-ness), the feeding, the fire, the grace, the glory, the hearing, the hope, the knowing, the order, the passion, the seeing, the voice, the will, the work and the yearning of the divine. So, for me, with this little anonymous Epigraph. And I wonder whether it is the very key to Sally Purcell’s life and poetry. And I wonder, too, whether I’m so attracted to it because it holds a key to what I want to be mine.

Writing for The Times of 19 November 2002, Libby Purves remembered her friend: “like Spender’s archetypal poet she was born of the sun, walked a short while towards the sun, and left the vivid air signed with her honour.” Ah! – notwithstanding my many frailties and failures I’d like to think that a beloved friend, some day remembering my life, might be able to say such a thing of mine. The home and the love we all long for will surely be the place where all the vivid air is signed with honour, God’s honour, your honour, and mine.

Here in this exquisite Epigraph is a hint of that Kingdom come, here, today, in us, on earth, in our breasts, in our souls, in our most intimate known and knowing depths – as it is in heaven. It’s an extra-ordinary sort of a love that tells someone that they have “gifts from my breast”. There’s warm and life-sustaining intimacy in the suggestion that another has some understanding of “the subtleties of my love”. An achingly beautiful reaching and being reached in “the truth of my desire”. I can imagine Jesus whispering these words to Mary Magdalene in Easter-morning Resurrection light. (Or perhaps they’d be her words whispered for him) …

And above all you have / gifts from my breast, / the subtleties of my love, the truth of my desire

… Yes, inwardly, perhaps more intimately than outwardly, poetic life creates resurrection-life in the same wonderfully incarnate, intimate and fully in-the-flesh way as did His. And you and I may smile and bask in Easter’s light. Warmed inside. The subtleties of love. The disciple’s delight.

May you soon celebrate just such a joy-filled Easter Feast!

2 thoughts on “FROM GOD-NESS

  1. Never doubt that you too are ‘born of the sun’ and the delight, grace and love that you share so generously is the most precious of gifts. Thank you my friend, thank you. xx

  2. Thank YOU for your immense kindness, generous heart, friendship and perpetual encouragement. May you forever know how loved and appreciated YOU are by those you lovingly shepherd and guard 🙂 x

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