Tag Archives: poetry

“Ode to Millicent”; a poem by Martin Thornton

Ode to Millicent
Or Franciscus Redivivus

By Martin Thornton
(published in The Countryman, Summer 1972)

I was digging up potatoes in the garden of the Rectory,
In cold October sunshine, working steadily along,
Neither burdened by the labour nor the time that it would take me,
All enveloped in potatoes; millipedes; another row.
I was digging up potatoes in the garden of the Rectory;
Forget-me-not, convolvulus, more millipedes, and dock;
I was digging up potatoes, when I stopped.

And lit my pipe.

So I meandered, daydreamed, convolvulus and smoke rings,
Bird songs, thistledown, millipedes and daisies,
Men and ladies, boys and girls, convolvulus and babies,
I was digging up potatoes: when I stopped.

For God said stop.

And millipede stopped.

And God said: Benedicite! I wish to introduce Miss Millicent Pede.

And I said: Good afternoon Miss Pede.

And she said: Shall I sing you a song?

And I said: Yes please.

So she sang:

This is a song that has never been sung
Since the dawn of creation, when things first began,
God conceived me, designed me, and gave me legs: one—
And ninety-nine others in case that went wrong;
The Trinity made me, with infinite care,
With other such creatures his friendship to share;
For He’s fond of me, loving me all of my life,
And He also made rabbits and maggots and mice,
And bears and black-beetles and lizards and lice.
It’s marvellous, too, that He also produces
Donkeys and ducks and remarkable gooses,
And Einstein and Schweizer and Liebniz and Paine
And Martha and Mary and Emily Jane.
Yet the infinite glory I’m sure you’ll concede
Is that God is so fond of Miss Millicent Pede.

Then I dug some more potatoes in the garden of the Rectory,
In cold October sunshine, working steadily along.
I felt elevated, edified, incomparably comforted,
Excited, thrilled, and sanctified by Sister Milly’s song.

I have dug up lots of learning in the lecture room and library,
In dull December darkness reading rapidly along,
I have read about the attributes ascribed to the Divinity
By Paul and Mark and Matthew, Thomas and Tertullian,
I must hasten to refresh my mind, by Bellarmine or Bede:
But the God whom I can worship is the One who loves Miss Pede.

Anselm’s devotional poem

From The Proslogian:

Come now, little child.
Turn awhile from your daily work;
hide yourself for a little time from your restless thoughts,
cast away your troublesome cares; put aside your wearisome distractions.
Give yourself a little leisure to talk to God, and rest awhile in him.
Enter the secret chamber of your heart,
shutting out everything but God,
and that which may help you in seeking him.
And when you’ve closed the door, seek him.
Now, my whole heart, say to God:
‘I seek your face;
your face, O Lord, do I seek.’

I will seek you by desiring you,
and desire you in seeking you.
I will find you by loving you,
and love you in finding you.
I praise and give thanks to you
that you made me in your image,
so that I can remember you,
think of you,
love you.
But so darkened is our image in me
by the smoke of my sins,
that it is useless unless you restore it.
I do not seek, O Lord, to search out your depths,
but only in some measure to understand your truth,
which my heart believes and loves.
I do not seek to understand so that I may believe,
but believe that I may understand.
For this I know to be true:
that unless I first believe I shall not understand.