Liz’s Weekly Poetry Series: Daniel Berrigan, Renegade Jesuit
The selection of Jorge Mario Bergoglio as Pope is bringing new scrutiny to the role of the Catholic Church in the dirty war that plagued Argentina and other Latin American countries in the 70’s.
Instead of examining Bergoglio’s role in the torturing and murdering of leftist dissidents and others who opposed the brutal, US-supported dictator, I’d like to take a look at the renegade Jesuit, Daniel Berrigan. For a quick bio, the youtube clip below is a good place to start. Then there’s a poem from Berrigan’s collection of poems titled Time Without Number (The Macmillan Company, 1957), a collection that won the Lamont Poetry Prize in 1957.
This is the body the seasons sold for money—
one by one they guarded and grew his frame:
we were hardly ready for him and he was ready.
This is the one.
These are the nettles sprung from sweating Cain.
Gather them up: they are holier far than flowers:
let us see the brow of the laborer glisten with them.
These are the thorns.
These are the coldiron embers of Lucifer:
these are the arrogant stars pushed out of heaven.
Then give him a handful of stars: heap stars at his feet.
These are the nails.
This is the prime redwood of all the world.
It is tougher and taller than he: it will swing him high:
it will hold him high forever if so we wish.
This is the cross.