“The Carpenter’s Son”, two poems… two visions, Sara Teasdale and A.E. Houseman

Kreuzigung von Gabriel Wüger, Andachtsbildchen auf dem Vorsatzblatt der Ausgabe des Schott-Messbuchs von 1952

“The soul of the artist cannot remain hidden.”  Henri Nouwen

  • I’m on vacation. This is a prescheduled post. Regular posting will begin again with Wednesday Writing Prompt on April 24 and Opportunity Knocks on April 25.
  • Calls for Submissions, Contests, and Events are posted on The Poet by Day Facebook Page.   
  • You are encouraged to display your work (poetry, art, photography, cartoons, music videos and so forth) and your  artistic successes and other arts-related announcements at The BeZine Arts & Humanities Facebook Group Page

Many people are honoring Good Friday today, a day considered holy by some and that you likely know even if you are not Christian. These two poems are offered without judgement or analyses, simply as an example of different responses by poets of the same era to a moment marked by history. One poem is from American lyric poet and Pulitzer Prize winner, Sara Teasdale (1884-1933). The second poem is from English poet and classical scholar, A.E. Housman (1889-1936). It is generally agreed that atheist Housman’s poem is a reference to Jesus’ and his death. Sara Teasdale was raised in a devote Baptist family.

The Carpenter’s Son

The summer dawn came over-soon,
The earth was like hot iron at noon
In Nazareth;
There fell no rain to ease the heat,
And dusk drew on with tired feet
And stifled breath.

The shop was low and hot and square,
And fresh-cut wood made sharp the air,
While all day long
The saw went tearing thru the oak
That moaned as tho’ the tree’s heart broke
Beneath its wrong.

The narrow street was full of cries,
Of bickering and snarling lies
In many keys—
The tongues of Egypt and of Rome
And lands beyond the shifting foam
Of windy seas.

Sometimes a ruler riding fast
Scattered the dark crowds as he passed,
And drove them close
In doorways, drawing broken breath
Lest they be trampled to their death
Where the dust rose.

There in the gathering night and noise
A group of Galilean boys
Crowding to see
Gray Joseph toiling with his son,
Saw Jesus, when the task was done,
Turn wearily.

He passed them by with hurried tread
Silently, nor raised his head,
He who looked up
Drinking all beauty from his birth
Out of the heaven and the earth
As from a cup.

And Mary, who was growing old,
Knew that the pottage would be cold
When he returned;
He hungered only for the night,
And westward, bending sharp and bright,
The thin moon burned.

He reached the open western gate
Where whining halt and ***** wait,
And came at last
To the blue desert, where the deep
Great seas of twilight lay asleep,
Windless and vast.

With shining eyes the stars awoke,
The dew lay heavy on his cloak,
The world was dim;
And in the stillness he could hear
His secret thoughts draw very near
And call to him.

Faint voices lifted shrill with pain
And multitudinous as rain;
From all the lands
And all the villages thereof
Men crying for the gift of love
With outstretched hands.

Voices that called with ceaseless crying,
The broken and the blind, the dying,
And those grown dumb
Beneath oppression, and he heard
Upon their lips a single word,

Their cries engulfed him like the night,
The moon put out her placid light
And black and low
Nearer the heavy thunder drew,
Hushing the voices . . . yet he knew
That he would go.

A quick-spun thread of lightning burns,
And for a flash the day returns—
He only hears
Joseph, an old man bent and white
Toiling alone from morn till night
Thru all the years.

Swift clouds make all the heavens blind,
A storm is running on the wind—
He only sees
How Mary will stretch out her hands
Sobbing, who never understands
Voices like these.

– Sara Teasdale

The Carpenter’s Son

Here the hangman stops his cart:
Now the best of friends must part.
Fare you well, for ill fare I:
Live, lads, and I will die.

Oh, at home had I but stayed
‘Prenticed to my father’s trade,
Had I stuck to plane and adze,
I had not been lost, my lads.

Then I might have built perhaps
Gallows-trees for other chaps,
Never dangled on my own,
Had I left but ill alone.

Now, you see, they hang me high,
And the people passing by
Stop to shake their fists and curse;
So ’tis come from ill to worse.

Here hang I, and right and left
Two poor fellows hang for theft:
All the same’s the luck we prove,
Though the midmost hangs for love.

Comrades all, that stand and gaze,
Walk henceforth in other ways;
See my neck and save your own:
Comrades all, leave ill alone.

Make some day a decent end,
Shrewder fellows than your friend.
Fare you well, for ill fare I:
Live lads, and I will die.

– A. E. Housman

Good Friday illustration is in the public domain



 “ . . . for there is nothing heavier than compassion. Not even one’s own pain weighs so heavy as the pain one feels with someone, for someone, a pain intensified by the imagination and prolonged by a hundred echoes.”  The Unbearable Lightness of BeingMilan Kundera

COMPASSION ANTHOLOGY has been publishing anthologies of “compassion-based works of visual art, essays, stories, poems and video” since 2015.  The editors are interested in work that inspires and engages compassionate tendencies including mindfulness and meditation. It is partnered with The Charter for Compassion founded by Karen Armstrong. Submissions are open through January 31, 2019 for the next anthology, which is themed “Mercy for the Displaced.”  

“key terms: refugees, caravan, California fires, Puerto Rico, hurricanes, Syria, illegal immigrants, family separation, deportation, RAICES*, domestic violence)”. RAICES is a refugee aid project in South Texas.

Submission guidelines HERE.

I just found out about the Compassion Anthology and I think so many of us have something to say on this topic, but do note the deadline is pending.






Poet and writer, I was once columnist and associate editor of a regional employment publication. I currently run this site, The Poet by Day, an information hub for poets and writers. I am the managing editor of The BeZine published by The Bardo Group Beguines (originally The Bardo Group), a virtual arts collective I founded.  I am a weekly contributor to Beguine Again, a site showcasing spiritual writers. My work is featured in a variety of publications and on sites, including: Levure littéraure, Ramingo’s PorchVita Brevis Literature,Compass Rose, Connotation PressThe Bar None GroupSalamander CoveSecond LightI Am Not a Silent PoetMeta / Phor(e) /Play, and California Woman. My poetry was recently read by Northern California actor Richard Lingua for Poetry Woodshed, Belfast Community Radio. I was featured in a lengthy interview on the Creative Nexus Radio Show where I was dubbed “Poetry Champion.”

The BeZine: Waging the Peace, An Interfaith Exploration featuring Fr. Daniel Sormani, Rev. Benjamin Meyers, and the Venerable Bhikkhu Bodhi among others

“What if our religion was each other. If our practice was our life. If prayer, our words. What if the temple was the Earth. If forests were our church. If holy water–the rivers, lakes, and ocean. What if meditation was our relationships. If the teacher was life. If wisdom was self-knowledge. If love was the center of our being.” Ganga White, teacher and exponent of Yoga and founder of White Lotus, a Yoga center and retreat house in Santa Barbara, CA

“Every pair of eyes facing you has probably experienced something you could not endure.” Lucille Clifton

No Calcification of the Heart, No Moratorium on Forgiveness

“The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.” Mahatma Gandhi, All Men are Brothers: Autobiographical Reflections

“To be a Christian means to forgive the inexcusable because God has forgiven the inexcusable in you.”C.S. Lewis

“Forgiveness is not an occasional act, it is a constant attitude.” Martin Luther King Jr.

“To love means loving the unlovable. To forgive means pardoning the unpardonable. Faith means believing the unbelievable. Hope means hoping when everything seems hopeless.” G.K. Chesterton

I’ve received some flack over yesterday’s post: This poet needs our help: SPOON JACKSON, imprisoned for 41 years or a crime he committed at 19 is still writing poetry and now asking for help to get commutation

The argument against Spoon’s commutation is about the life lost at Spoon’s hands. Advocating for the release of a man for a crime that is – no dispute, even by Spoon as far as I know – heinous is not to justifying the murder. I agree: Who knows what that poor murdered soul’s life might have been like, what his joys might have been, his contributions. We do know – because we’re human – that his family has probably never stopped grieving.  Forgiveness is not always easy but the calcification of the heart is the hardest and most unhealthy thing to bear.

Ever since reading about the woman featured in the video below, I have been unable to forget her. She’s a shining beacon of respect and sanity in a world gone mad. If she can forgive this, I can learn to forgive anything:

Spoon was nineteen years old when he committed the crime for which he is imprisioned.  Here’s what Robert Sapolsky, an American neuroendocrinologist and author, a professor of biology, and professor of neurology, of neurological sciences, and of neurosurgery at Stanford University, has to say about the teen/young adult brain. My feeling is that this needs to be factored into any judgement of Spoon and his case.

If you are reading this post from an email subscription, you’ll likely have to link to this site to view the two videos featured here.

“The willingness to forgive is a sign of spiritual and emotional maturity. It is one of the great virtues to which we all should aspire. Imagine a world filled with individuals willing both to apologize and to accept an apology. Is there any problem that could not be solved among people who possessed the humility and largeness of spirit and soul to do either — or both — when needed?” Gordon B. Hinckley, Standing for Something: 10 Neglected Virtues That Will Heal Our Hearts and Homes

There is also the issue of race and prejudice that clearly factored into his sentencing.  One comment I recieved is from American poet Deb y Felio (Debbie Felio) ” . . . not only the youth of the crime, which he did admit to, and which probably would have had his time served years ago. But the reality again we must continue to face of the limited justice available for black people when he was sentenced. “Special circumstances” which made him ineliglble for parole and in the same fell swoop made another trial unattainable. As a nation we are still struggling for equal justice for all.”

People writing to me from England, Sweden and Norway commented that in their countries Spoon would have been release twenty years ago.

Further, Spoon Jackson is not asking to run a day-care center, teach children, or to run for office but only to reunite with his family.  No harm in supporting that as far as I can see. Kindness and forgiveness are not misplaced.


Poet and writer, I was once columnist and the associate editor of a regional employment publication. Currently I run this site, The Poet by Day, an information hub for poets and writers. I am the managing editor of The BeZine published by The Bardo Group Beguines (originally The Bardo Group), a virtual arts collective I founded.  I am a weekly contributor to Beguine Again, a site showcasing spiritual writers.

My work is featured in a variety of publications and on sites, including: Levure littéraure, Ramingo’s PorchVita Brevis Literature,Compass Rose, Connotation Press, The River Journal, The Bar None GroupSalamander CoveSecond LightI Am Not a Silent PoetMeta / Phor(e) /Play, and California Woman.

Ecce Panis, a poem … and your Wednesday Writing Prompt


In nomine Patris, et Filii, et Spiritus Sancti …

Clad in blue-gray woolly plaid, black oxfords
and pressed, pristine white uniform-blouse
on the morning walk from the dorms to the convent,
past the apple orchard dripping rubescent fruit,
past long-lashed benign cows gently grazing,
walking briskly across that green pasture land
into the greener wood rich in conifers and
the piney debris that crunches amicably under foot,
in single-minded pursuit of that brass-hinged door,
on into aprons, to Sister Mary Francis, the kitchen, bread.

… we therefore beseech thee, O Lord, to be appeased, and to receive this offering of our bounden duty, as also of thy whole household …

The romance was not with bread to eat,
but with yeasts to proof, batters to mix,
and dough to knead, and rest, and grow –
that beautiful, mystical living thing you have
before the baking and dying into bread, and with
the crackling timpani of wood-ovens firing up, pans crashing,
the rhythmic swish and sway of our community,
punctuated by the clicking of Sister’s rosary as she
monitors the students and novices in silent industry at bakers’ tables.
This is the sacred work of those meditative hours before Mass and school
and the business of music lessons and art classes and
the methodical ticking of Liturgical Hours until finally Compline, sleep and
the contemplation of that final sleep and dust-to-dust.
And this being Tuesday, the day to commemorate St. John the Baptist,
and the day to bake our bread for the week to come.

…order our days in thy peace; grant that we be rescued from eternal damnation and counted within the fold of thine elect. Through Christ our Lord …

The next bake day, Thursday, commemorates the Holy Apostles.
Oh, palpable Presence, we work in the silence of Adoration,
preparing pure wafers for a week of Masses.
In a solemn alcove reserved for this task,
we mix flour, salt, and holy water blessed by Father Gregory,
then the fragile process of baking on baking tongs,
silvery antiques, perhaps a hundred years old.

… which offering do thou, O God, vouchsafe in all things …

Receiving the Eucharist
knowing it was formed by my own hand.

…to bless, consecrate, approve, make reasonable and acceptable
that it may become for us the Body and Blood of thy most beloved Son,our Lord Jesus Christ…

Friday, The Cross and Theotokos (Mary),
mother of both God and man, Divine and human.
A girl, like me, perhaps a baker of breads.

…who the day before he suffered took bread into his holy and venerable hands, and with his eyes lifted up to heaven, unto thee, God, his almighty Father, giving thanks to thee …

Mysterious. Numinous. Inexplicable.
A lifetime ahead to figure it out.

Ecce Panis.

Take this Bread.

… he blessed, brake, and gave to his disciples saying: Take and eat ye all of this…

from the pastures and the woods, from the sky and the stream
from nature’s great cathedrals, everywhere present

... hoc est enim Corpus meum…

for this is my body

for this is my life


“Where is God? Wherever you let him in.” Rabbi Menachem Mendel Morgensztern of Kotzk, Poland 1787

© 2011, poem rewritten in 2013, Jamie Dedes, previously published in The BeZine, All rights reserved; Virgin adoring the Host by Jean Auguste Donminique Ingres (1980-1867), public domain; Menachem Mendel Morgensztern bio.


What event or experience or time in your life (doesn’t have to be associated with religion) birthed for you the freedom to explore beyond the boundaries set for you? Tell us in a poem and share it or a link to it in the comments below.  All poetry on theme will be published here on Tuesday next. You have until Monday at 8:30 p.m. PST to respond.  All are welcome to come out and play no matter the status of your career: beginning, emerging or pro. Thank you!