Fr Ian writes: I recently enjoyed a challenge to post five poems of my choice, one each day, for five days on Facebook. It was more difficult than I expected, and inevitably my choices kept changing.
An unintentional theme began to develop. The poems could help in pastoral ministry.
Some of the poems I have already posted on our church blog, namely: Robert Frost’s On a tree fallen across a road and Wendell Berry’s The Peace of Wild Things and Vladimir Holan’s wonderful Easter poem, Resurrection.
My remaining two choices are very different from each other. First of all one of the first poems I learnt at my prep school. It will be known to many and still stays with me. It has a strange and haunting quality about it. A sense of the closeness but at the same time the mystery of the spiritual world. The Listeners by Walter de la Mare.
And my final choice is by the Albanian poet Ismail Kadare, who in this poem written while in exile in Moscow, longs for his homeland.
One reader of the poem (Bishop Nigel McCulloch) on reading this posted poem said it is a”very poignant and a germane reminder to us all of how beneath the need to escape from repression the yearning for home and the people left behind is heart-rending”
Longing for Albania (extract, translated)
I was filled with longing for Albania
Tonight as I returned home on the trolley,
The smoke of a Partizani cigarette in the hand of a Russian
Curled bluish, twirled upwards
As if whispering to me, its compatriot,
In the language of the Albanians.
I long to stroll through the streets of Tiranë in the evening,
Where I used to get into mischief,
And through the streets where I never got into mischief.
Those old wooden doorways know me,
They will still hold a grudge against me
And will snub their noses at me,
But I won’t mind
Because I am filled with longing.
I long to stroll through the lanes full of dry leaves,
Dry leaves, autumn leaves,
For which comparisons can so easily be found.
I was filled with longing for Albania,
For that great, wide and deep sky,
For the azure course of the Adriatic waves,
For clouds at sunset ablaze like castles,
For the Albanian Alps with their white hair and green beards,
For the nylon nights fluttering in the breeze,
For the mists, like red Indians, on the prowl at dawn,
For the locomotives and the horses
That huff and puff, dripping in sweat,
For the cypresses, the herds and graves
I was filled with longing.
I was filled with longing
For the Albanians.
Other church members have been challenged to post their choices, – first of all Sandra Palmer – click here to see her choices. Want to join in? Comment below to say so and we’ll be in touch!