Religious Poetry

I've been reading John Donne this week & consequently thinking about religious poetry. It took several years of Zen practice to enable me to go back to the Christian tradition of religious poetry. I'm writing a longer piece about these matters, but thought I'd post this song by rock & roller John Hiatt as an example of good religious poetry. One doesn't expect to find a religious on a rock album, but there you have it.
Through Your Hands

You were dreaming on a park bench 'Bout a broad highway somewhere When the music from the carillon Seemed to hurl your heart out there Past the scientific darkness Past the fireflies that float To an angel bending down To wrap you in her warmest coat

[Chorus:] And you ask, "What am I not doing?” She says "Your voice cannot command. In time, you will move mountains, And it will come through your hands.”

Still you argue for an option Still you angle for your case Like you wouldn't know a burning bush If it blew up in your face Yeah, we scheme about the future And we dream about the past When just a simple reaching out Might build a bridge that lasts


So whatever your hands find to do You must do with all your heart There are thoughts enough To blow men's minds and tear great worlds apart There's a healing touch to find you On that broad highway somewhere To lift you high As music flying Through the angel's hair.


Author: jd

Joseph Duemer is Professor of Literature Emeritus at Clarkson University in northern New York state. His most recent book of poems is Magical Thinking from Ohio State University Press. Since the mid-1990s he has spent a good deal of time in Vietnam, mostly Hanoi. He lives with his wife Carole & five terriers (four Jack Russells & one Patterdale) on the stony bank of the Raquette River in South Colton.