Tag Archives: Norman Nicholson

Christian Poems VIII: Nicholson, Aquinas, Priest

Graveyard crosses (by saavem, http://www.sxc.hu/photo/1397939).

The Burning Bush

by Norman Nicholson

When Moses, musing in the desert, found
The thorn bush spiking up from the hot ground,
And saw the branches on a sudden bear
The crackling yellow barberries of fire,

He searched his learning and imagination
For any logical, neat explanation,
And turned to go, but turned again and stayed
And faced the fire and knew it for his God.

I too have seen the briar alight like coal,
The love that burns, the flesh that’s ever whole,
And many times have turned and left it there,
Saying:  “It’s prophecy–but metaphor.”

But stinging tongues like John the Baptist shout:
“That this is metaphor is no way out.
It’s dogma too, or you make God a liar;
The bush is still a bush, and fire is a fire.”

In The Earth is the Lord’s: Poems of the Spirit, H. PLotz, ed. (Thomas Y. Crowell Co. 1965), 57.


“Adoro te supplex, lateens deitas”
(beginning stanzas)

by Thomas Aquinas

Godhead here in hiding, whom I do adore
Masked by these bare shadows, shape and nothing more,
See, Lord, at thy service low lies here a heart
Lost, all lost in wonder at the God thou art.

Seeing, touching, tasting are in thee deceived;
How says trusty hearing? that shall be believed;
What God’s Son has told me, take for true I do;
Truth himself speaks truly or there’s nothing true.

On the cross thy godhead made no sign to men;
Here thy very manhood steals from human ken:
Both are my confession, both are my belief,
And I pray the prayer of the dying thief.

In The Poems of Gerard Manley Hopkins, W.H. Gardner and N.H. MacKenzie, ed.s (Oxford Univ. Press 1967); Hopkins had translated this Aquinas poem.


You Wait

by Victoria Priest

God abounds, is all around;
      His love for me endures.
But I, up in the air then on the ground;
      Smitten now, but later all demurs;
      Oh love!  How foul am I!
Your love abounds, is all around;
      You yet wait for my return.