Tabb’s Poetry XXXVI


The Voyagers

The Spring in festival array,
From Death to Life, from Night to Day,
   Came floating o’er the main;
And now with banners brave and bright,
From Life to Death, from Day to Night,
   The Autumn drifts again. 

Mater Dolorosa

Again maternal Autumn grieves,
As blood-like drip the maple leaves
   On Nature’s Calvary,
And every sap-forsaken limb
Renews the mystery of Him
   Who died upon a Tree. 

Life’s Repetend

Do ye forget the blossom-time?
Or tint for tint, as rhyme for rhyme,
   Would ye, O leaves, supply;
To prove, as echo to the ear,
That Near is Far, and Far is Near,
   In circling home to die? 

A Rubric

The aster puts its purple on
   When flowers begin to fall,
To suit the solemn antiphon
   Of Autumn’s ritual;

And deigns, unwearied, to stand
   In robes pontifical,
Till Indian Summer leaves the land,
   And Winter spreads the pall.

If this the preface be of death
   In crimson, green, and gold,
What wondrous art illumineth
   The story still untold?

John B. Tabb

For a recitation, click the play button:

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“The Voyagers”: Poems, p. 13; Poetry, p. 86. September 1892. The main is the sea.

“Mater Dolorosa”: Lyrics, p. 96; Poetry, p. 91. April 1896. Mater Dolorosa: Latin, sorrowful mother; traditionally applied to the Blessed Virgin Mary at the foot of the cross on Calvary, the hill near Jerusalem on which the Lord Jesus Christ was crucified; the word comes from Calvarius, Latin for the Hebrew Golgotha; see Matthew 27:33.

“Life’s Repetend”: Later Lyrics, p. 22; Poetry, p. 116. April 1899. A repetend is a refrain or repetition.

“A Rubric”: Lyrics, p. 111; Poetry, p. 13. October 1895. This poem, part and parcel, is an elaborate extended metaphor on the Church’s worship: rubrics are instructions and directions for celebrating the liturgy; purple is the liturgical color of affliction and melancholy; an antiphon is a short refrain; pontifical robes are vestments worn by bishops and other prelates; Indian Summer is a warm spell when the leaves are in color; the pall is a long cloth draped over a coffin, to which the fall of snow corresponds.

“Autumn-Glow”: Father Tabb, p. 191; Poetry, p. 368. November 1900.


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