40 Days of Mercy Week 6: Mercy at the Cross

As we move closer to the time of remembering Jesus’ death, this week’s poem comes from Ukrainian-born poet Anna Akhmatova, whose poem sequence “Requiem” explores the grief that she and others witnessed of the height of Stalinist rule. One striking image that Akhmatova returns to continually throughout the sequence is that of a mother mourningContinue reading “40 Days of Mercy Week 6: Mercy at the Cross”

40 Days of Mercy Week 5: Mercy out of dust

I’ve wanted for a long time to write a series of reflections on the poetry of Holocaust survivor and Nobel laureate Nelly Sachs. That will have to wait for another time, but this week’s poem comes from a sequence of hers called “In the Habitations of Death”, where imagery of death, dust, longing and encounteringContinue reading “40 Days of Mercy Week 5: Mercy out of dust”

40 Days of Mercy: Week 4

This week’s poem comes from the largely forgotten African American poet James Weldon Johnson whose book “God’s Trombones” takes as its task to preserve the language and cadence of the African American preaching tradition. The collection begins in a prayer for mercy and then moves through Biblical history to arrive at the final judgement, aContinue reading “40 Days of Mercy: Week 4”

40 Days of Mercy Week 3: Mercy for the safe

This week I lost NBN connection and was locked out of my Google account while trying to buy an eBook of Ilya Kaminsky’s “Dancing in Odessa”. Today I found myself in the impossible position of trying to convey to an Optus consultant why it was no use telling me to download the Optus app toContinue reading “40 Days of Mercy Week 3: Mercy for the safe”

40 Days of Mercy: Week 2

In the last decade of his life, Ukrainian poet Taras Shevchenko (1814-1861) turned to a paraphrasing a number of Biblical psalms in a work known in English by the title “Psalms of David”. Many of his paraphrases take these ancient songs and prayers and apply them to the griefs being experienced by his people underContinue reading “40 Days of Mercy: Week 2”

40 Days of Mercy: Kyrie in the ashes

This Lent, the world worn down by two years of pandemic, war unfolding in Ukraine and hearts anxious and troubled, I am turning to the poems of others to reflect on what it means to cry out for mercy in this time. Today’s poem is from young Ukrainian poet Les Beley, and it is accompaniedContinue reading “40 Days of Mercy: Kyrie in the ashes”