Today, words from the poet John Albert Holmes, Jr (January 6, 1904-June 22, 1962). A prolific writer, he penned seven volumes of poems and the texts to two of the hymns found in Singing the Living Tradition, #11 “O God of Stars and Sunlight,” and #164 “The Peace Not Past Our Understanding.”
In his Address to the Living (1937), as quoted by the Dictionary of Unitarian and Universalist Biography, John Holmes wrote:
“We live, we are elected now by time,
Few out of many not yet come to birth,
And many dead, to use the daylight now,
To stand up under the sun upon the earth.
Then break the silence with a voice of praise;
Open the door that opens toward the sky;
Press mind and body hard against this world,
Before we fall asleep, before we die.”
And in 1950, in The Double Root, he wrote this lovely poem, as quoted by The Harvard Square Library’s “Notable American Unitarians.” Enjoy.
The Double Root
by John Albert Holmes, Jr.
Ready with meaning in the pulpit of today,
This morning on my face, and both hands light,
the book before me and the ritual bright,
I wonder how in God’s name I can say
In any church to anyone of my kind
Gathered and hushed and willing for the word,
The Tree. The Tree’s law. The truth I heard
When I was dark, a root, and deep and blind.
But you are near me, You are my people. You
Know what it is to sodden a season through.
How should I lead you, though you charge me to?
Yet listen to me. I have learned a thing to do.
We grow, we grope with a few unfolding leaves
Upward and opening toward the sun — the sun
that draws whatever green we are, and drives
Roots opening downward toward the single source,
Sun under, sun over earth, one law, one force.
Be in your earth, and there will be well begun.
Climb in the dark. All ground is open door
To the open sky. Break through, reach up the air
To air above, and there green yourself round
Planets, as roots on deep-struck rock are wound.
Grown tree; boughs big; under leaf fruit found.
Source: “The Double Root,” from the poetry collection of the same name by John Albert Holmes, Jr, as quoted by The Harvard Square Library’s “Notable American Unitarians.”Tags: deepening, History, John Holmes, nature, poetry, truth