Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Poets United Midweek Motif ~ Saint / Saintliness

Detail of stained glass window depicting St. Patrick.
St. Benin's Church, Kilbennan, County Galway, Ireland

“The Rose does not preen herself to catch my eye. 
She blooms because she blooms.  
A saint is a saint until he knows he is one.”

“We need saints without cassocks, without veils - we need saints with jeans and tennis shoes. We need saints that go to the movies that listen to music, that hang out with their friends (...) We need saints that drink Coca-Cola, that eat hot dogs, that surf the internet and that listen to their iPods. We need saints that love the Eucharist, that are not afraid or embarrassed to eat a pizza or drink a beer with their friends. We need saints who love the movies, dance, sports, theatre. We need saints that are open, sociable, normal, happy companions. We need saints who are in this world and who know how to enjoy the best in this world without being callous or mundane. 
We need saints.” 
― Pope Francis

 Midweek Motif ~ Saint 

In the USA, Ireland and many other countries, tomorrow is St. Patrick's Day, which, oddly enough, is celebrated by drinking beer.  Wikipedia records that this practice occurs because the restrictions of Lent, a Christian pre-Easter period of becoming closer to God, are suspended for the day. 

Saintliness can have a religious definition and/or a metaphorical one. If you say "He's a saint" or "They're not saints" you are talking about extreme goodness.

Perhaps you celebrate this day, have stories of Saints and miracles, or know a saintly person?

Your Challenge:  
In a new poem, celebrate a Saint or a saint who is meaningful to you. 

"Hail glorious Saint Patrick dear saint of our isle
On us thy poor children look down with a smile —"
But I'm not singing hymns and I'm not saying prayers
No, I'm gritting my teeth as I walk down the stairs
And into the street with these louts fiercely drinking
And screeching and lurching, and here's what I'm thinking —
They're using a stereotype, a narrow example,
A fraction, not even a marketing sample
To imitate Ireland, from which they don't come!
So unless that's just stupid, unless it's plain dumb,
All these kids from New Jersey and the five boroughs
And hundreds of cities, all drowning their sorrows,
With bottles and glasses and heads getting broken
(Believe me, just ask the mayor of Hoboken)
All that mindlessness, shouting and getting plain stocious —
That isn't Irish, that's simply atrocious.
I've another word too for it, this one's more stinging
I call it "racism." See, just 'cause you're singing
Some drunken old ballad on Saint Patrick's Day
Does that make you Irish? Oh, no — no way.
Nor does a tee-shirt that asks you to kiss them —
If they never come back I surely won't miss them
Or their beer cans and badges and wild maudlin bawling
And hammered and out of it, bodies all sprawling.
They're not of Joyce or of Yeats, Wilde, or Shaw.
How many Nobel Laureates does Dublin have? Four!
Think of this as you wince through Saint Patrick's guano —
Not every Italian is Tony Soprano.

(from NPR: A St. Patrick's Poem On Shamrocks And Stereotypes, March 17, 2012.)

When no one else would listen, Saint Anthony
preached seaward, his words fishnet for the lost
souls of the heretics. Caught up in despair, we plea
to the one who will listen: Saint Anthony,
please return Tía’s teeth or the misplaced key
to our bolted hopes. Patron retriever of all we’ve tossed
when no one else would. Listen, Saint Anthony,
teach us to steward this world, all our netted loss
Source: Poetry (June 2014).
Used by permission.
Oh you saints,
Let me enter your society,
If only as a statistician.

You’re old,
Perhaps the years are
Getting you down by now,
Laying themselves over you
In layers of color.

Just let me take care
Of your dirty work in
All the nooks and crannies.

For example I could
Swallow light
At the Last Supper
And exhale your halos
After the devotionals.

From time to time,
At a distance of half a wall,
I could
Form my hands into a horn
And shout,
Now for the believers,
Now for the unbelievers
Hallelujah! Hallelujah!
From Hands Behind My Backtranslated by Gabriela 
Dragnea, Stuart Friebert, and Adriana Varga. 
Copyright © 1991 by Oberlin College Press.
No permission, sorry.

Please share your new poem using Mr. Linky below and visit others in the spirit of the community.

                               (Next week Susan's Midweek will be ~ Climate)


  1. Not sure if my little helper is quite a saint although she is partial to Guinness - thank you for the prompt and happy St Patricks day to all who celebrate it!

  2. Good Morning, Poets United! I've been absent quite a bit lately, tending to a manuscript that I've been working on during 8 weeks as writer in residence at a Quaker study center. I'm taking home new ways to concentrate and to stay on track. If you are interested, I wrote a few blog posts on the experience over at I wrote an average of 2 a week! My poem production went down accordingly. I want to thank Sumana, especially, for taking on extra prompts and inspiring us all.

    1. PS: DEBORAH PAREDEZ, poet of the Triolet, may visit. I love the poem-plea for one who will listen and teach us "to steward this world." I hope it's not too late.

  3. Thank you for the prompt, although it took me to very melancholy places.

    1. Some of us reveal where saintliness is and some where it is not--both are important, I think. I fear I ducked that problem completely. I may have to produce another poem!

  4. Hey everyone,

    Woooo hooooo :D its time for Midweek Motif! Sharing my poem "Saints within." Hope you all like it :D

    Thank you Susan for wonderful inspiration.
    Lots of love,

  5. Wonderful of you to share all that great information. Cheers!

    1. Thank you. Are you just visiting? Will we have a poem later?

  6. Wow already its Wednesday, Tomorrow St Patrick's day; best wishes to all, Thanks Susan for a lovely prompt today

    much love...

    1. Good to see you, Gillena. I'm on my way over.

  7. Not sure, if my poem fits this week's prompt, but it deserves mentioning.

  8. Thanks for the prompt Susan. It took me a while, but I finally thought of something to write. Have a good rest of the week.

    1. You are very welcome. I'm glad you persisted. Good stuff!

  9. Saint or sinner I think we are all a bit of both.

    1. Perhaps. I wonder if there are contemporary names for any of the points along the spectrum of these extremes?

  10. Wonderful Prompt. Thanks for posting..

    1. Welcome! Thanks for posting. Don't forget to come around an visit the rest of us.

  11. Great prompt! Loved writing on it...thank you!

    1. Thank you, Amit. For some reason this comment came up twice, so I'll erase one.

  12. Eager to read the responses to this interesting motif.

    1. I know! I've learned and I've been moved! There has been no common response. I love it! (Next week's topic--climate--seems mighty weak by comparison. But we shall see. I love the surprises.)

  13. Thank you, Susan! I will be joining in to read tomorrow with more energy. :)


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