Thursday, May 17, 2012

Theology From The Plain Courtesy of G.A. Compton

Rediscovering the poetry of my great-great uncle G.A. Compton has been a great joy over the last few years.   Many of his poems strike right at the heart of the ways I have come to think.  Here are three poems,  published in his 1950 book "Puns, Poetry and Prose", that make their way deeper and deeper into my soul everyday.  They are truly Theology From The Plain (albeit from Uncle Barry's West Virginia hills!).

Two Sermons
I went to hear a preacher.
How his lusty voice did ring!
He nomenclatured nameless Love
Just like a mundane thing.
One part of Love was vengeance,
To ablate an heired sin!
(Then, I hoped Love would be cheated
And feel a deep chagrin!)
I went to hear a robin
Help to mauve the ashy dawn,
And thought he’d burn the new leaves of
The twig he salaamed on.
Aurora flung her curtains
At the throbbing reveille,
And hallooed thru the windows,
That the preacher lied to me!

Without pain
Could not be;
Heaven is 
Estimated thru
Without fear,
No stile would arise
With each stair a hope
Ending in the skies-
Pain, fear-
Finite crucibles
Purge us to merge
Infinite seas.


Just buckle on most any creed,
Like picking up a stole-
No creed was ever fitted, yet,
Exactly to each soul.
Convention says that you must wear
One o'er your sinful heart,
So put it on - but grow until
You burst the thing apart.


  1. Love it! As always, thanks for sharing these. The first reminds me of an old Jewish anecdote about three Rabbis (I've heard it told as Christian monks as well, but I assume the Christian tradition adopted it from the Jewish). All three were taken by God up to see heaven. The first, upon returning, started shouting sermons to any who would listen about all he saw, about how fantastic heaven was and how none could comprehend its glory. The second, having seen such glory, began to sermonize damnation: none of us are worthy, he comprehended, we must repent or perish! The third, however, having experienced the same thing as the other two, returned and began writing poetry about the beauty of a sparrow's song and a daisy's petal and the peaceful sleep of an infant, and (it is said) it is only he who truly understood.

  2. That is a great parable. I have been pondering it all day. A main theme of the spiritual traditions that I find compelling is trying to be present - to pay attention - so that one does not miss out on one's own life. I have been trying to recommit myself to this idea over the last few weeks.

    Thanks, Kelly!