Phillip Medhurst

Wisdom from a Gnostic Sage

Month: March, 2016

The Empty Tomb

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From “Picture Stories from the Bible”, published in book form by M. C. Gaines in 1943. Text by Montgomery Mulford (an erstwhile writer of articles for church magazines) and artwork by Don Cameron.

Maxwell Charles Gaines was one of the pioneers of the comic book form. He may have been the original designer of the stapled comic book, and he was the first to sell comic books, since before that they had only been promotional give-aways. In 1944, Gaines began a “Educational Comics” (EC) which aimed to reproduce classics in picture format. The “Picture Stories from the Bible” volumes were based on previous individual weeklies. Gaines had them distributed in public schools throughout the U. S. in the 1940’s. The two volumes were a huge hit. Gaines died in 1947. The Old Testament and New Testament collections were both re-published by Scarf Press in 1979 and 1980 respectively, and an Old Testament edition was re-published by Bloch (serving the Jewish community) in 1991.

This file was created by Phillip Medhurst from a copy of the original books in the collection of Oliver Medhurst of Redditch.

Phillip Medhurst

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The Fight at Finnsburg

 

Brand beat edda,

Doom on dooming.

 

 

Passover

 

We pass over unknown lands

Eastward bound.

We see nothing.

Tunnels echo the rattle.

The wherefore fades

Of our herding to

This trembling wagon,

Rubbing shoulders

Bolt upright.

 

I still hope, regardless,

For a little red house,

A little white house,

Music playing

In snow-showers, fine as ash.

For then we shall be free –

Work shall make us so –

From fear incontinent.

But only a chimney I see.

 

Where is the pillar of cloud?

Where is the column of fire?

Will the cyclone be

The fiat “not-to-be”

From the powers that be

As I scramble, naked, up

A mound of sacrifice,

My nails scoring a riddle

On those blank walls?

 

 

 

Black Hole

 

Not in control,

A big black hole

Drives me on:

Oblivion.

 

I thought I sensed

Some thing beyond –

Surely non-sense

For only no-one

 

Rules this world,

Until it’s rolled

Up like a scroll

Inside that hole.

 

And did I see

A face look down? –

No: space-time ripples

Feigned a frown.

 

 

Galahad

 

Behind the grimy concrete and

Glaucoma’d glass old Pelles groans.

He feels the stain grow wider from

His thigh, and looks for meaning in

The ceiling cracks.

 

Mordrain, spastic tetraplegic,

Turns towards the upraised Host. (His

Head is all that moves.) The priests some

Formulaic salve dispense from

Tarnished pyx.

 

Elsewhere a youth is kneeling at

A stream, and catches silver to

His downy lips. By this refreshed,

He cycles on again to do

Sick-visiting.

 

 

Francis of Assisi

 

My verdict is as follows (mark it well):

Francesco Bernadone is a fool.

He thinks that he can strip our Mother Church,

And rob her of her dowry held in store.

 

If she is to be wed to high-born men,

We should not treat her grossly as a whore

Who gives her favours freely, from the heart,

To all who beat a path up to her door.

 

 

Cathedrals are not built with lepers’ hands,

Or chantries by mere gutter-deaths endowed.

Bejewelled shrines must dazzle tear-filled eyes,

Not rustic dolls laid out on heaps of straw.

 

Francesco and his half-crazed crew may stalk

Unto their hearts’ content this countryside,

But they shall not invade our frescoed walls,

Or stigmatise the icons we adore.

 

We rest secure beneath our mosaiced domes.

The chant of priest, the tinkle of the coin,

Ensures the soul’s release, the sinner’s balm,

While gospel-truth is safe beneath the floor.

 

Jonah

 

In the fish’s belly, I,

Crowned with slimy weed,

Feel odds and ends of recollects

Slide past, a monster’s brunch;

But no repast for me,

The bearer of bad luck.

 

Staring, dreading nought,

Disembodied eyes

And scales and teeth and bones

Swirl round and on and down

Through retribution’s maw,

To God knows what.

 

The storm outside abates.

His anger; is it spent? –

Repentance rolls perhaps from port

Unto metropolis.

The giant tail, now purposeful,

Flicks the new-stilled waves.

 

The sway of swerve round roots

Of mountains, through drowned valleys

Stops. Now patient, I await

A resurrecting belch,

Hoping that those Ninevites

Get just what they deserve.

 

 

Martyrdom

 

The rich reduced, the poor endowed,

The weak are raised to thrones of power.

The good Lord rules while kings are cowed;

He undermines the tyrant’s tower.

 

 

In tatters, stripped, from field walled,

God calls us to his banquet spread.

Let super-substantial manna fall,

This day our daily-given bread.

 

 

The full are starved, the empty fed,

The fertile pine, the barren bear.

He flattens fields, gives landless bread;

Both weal and woe our God can share.

 

I am his wheat, ground in a mill

By tooth of beast to make fine leaven;

I shall rise up to do His will,

As done this very hour in heaven.

 

 

Later Pieta (Michelangelo)

 

I bear this weight with dignity,

For meaning is in symmetry –

Or so it seemed that way, when I

Could easily command plasticity.

 

I chiselled him – the crucified –

As handsome then: a slumbering lord,

And Mary still resplendent in

Her prime, and poised, and aureoled

 

In draperies. But now he droops

As heavy as a corpse will be,

And she, wrapped up against the cold,

Just clutches at this clod, her son.

 

I had to come in person and

Join in this undertaking, but

I’m growing old, and now don’t know

Where beauty is. And that’s the truth.

 

 

The Word

 

Between the bone and marrow

Penetrates the arrow

Of your Word. And so

Salvific poison spreads.

 

Once it takes hold

All worldliness contracts

To lodge that head

Below my heart.

 

There is no antidote,

For – sweet Mercury –

The chemistry must kill

What kills, then save outright.

 

This unevaded shaft

Invades me. I must yield.

For once it has arrived,

It lives and thrives.