A quick and not so quick think about spirituality

Just two links: the RSA blog looks to Jonathan Rowson on spirituality, and for awe and wonder can we beat the Mediterranean volcanoes that perhaps first gave the Peoples of the Book their definition of transcendent majesty? So here (not a very stable link, since it updates regularly) is Etna this mid-December weekend.

This is a quick think because all I’m doing is pointing to three interesting sources, but not so quick because I think they raise very interesting questions about the place of transcendence, whether spirituality is anything more than introspection, and (from an educator’s perspective) how useful either of these might be in, say, a Primary classroom.

And so the third source: a poem that attempts (and for me achieves) something of all the first two areas to ponder, but which raises the last: why do we (does one/do I) turn to poetry to look at spirituality?

Northumbrian Sequence IV – Kathleen Raine

Let in the wind,

Let in the rain,

Let in the moors tonight,


The storm beats on my window-pane,

Night stands at my bed-foot,

Let in the fear,

Let in the pain,

Let in the trees that toss and groan,

Let in the north tonight.


Let in the nameless formless power

That beats upon my door,

Let in the ice, let in the snow,

The banshee howling on the moor,

The bracken-bush on the bleak hillside,

Let in the dead tonight.


The whistling ghost behind the dyke,

The dead that rot in the mire,

Let in the thronging ancestors,

The unfilled desire,

Let in the wraith of the dead earl,

Let in the dead tonight.


Let in the cold,

Let in the wet,

Let in the loneliness,

Let in the quick,

Let in the dead,

Let in the unpeopled skies.


Oh how can virgin fingers weave

A covering for the void,

How can my fearful heart conceive

Gigantic solitude?

How can a house so small contain

A company so great?

Let in the dark,

Let in the dead,

Let in your love tonight.

Let in the snow that numbs the grave,

Let in the acorn-tree,

The mountain stream and mountain stone,

Let in the bitter sea.


Fearful is my virgin heart

And frail my virgin form,

And must I then take pity on

The raging of the storm

That rose up from the great abyss

Before the earth was made,

That pours the stars in cataracts

And shakes this violent world?


Let in the fire,

Let in the power,

Let in the invading might.

Gentle must my fingers be

And pitiful my heart

Since I must bind in human form

A living power so great,

A living impulse great and wild

That cries about my house

With all the violence of desire

Desiring this my peace.


Pitiful my heart must hold

The lonely stars at rest,

Have pity on the raven’s cry,

The torrent and the eagle’s wing,

The icy water of the tarn

And on the biting blast.


Let in the wound,

Let in the pain,

Let in your child tonight.