Books

Nourishing Connections: Collected Poems

Date added: 03/06/2020

Nourishing Connections

Nourishing Connections: Collected Poems

Canterbury Press 2020

by Graham Kings

 

The poems are set out in six sections: Seasons, People, Places, Bible, Art and Prayer. They may all be read in the 'Poems' tab of this site.

Preface

Many of these poems emanate from meditation on passages of the Bible, which have nourished me over the years, and from connections across the world, especially in the Anglican Communion. 

Commentators in the early and medieval Church used the language of digestion and nourishment to refer to meditation on Scripture, especially the sound of the words. The Latin words ruminare and mundicare refer to a cow chewing the cud and they resonate across the centuries as we pray that we may ‘read, mark, learn and inwardly digest’ God’s holy word.[1]

Robert Atwell, now Bishop of Exeter, has commented:

Our forebears’ belief that the slow digestive process of cows was well-suited to describe the process of engaging with Scripture, stands in marked contrast to the language and expectations of a fast-food generation. Their wisdom calls us to a more gentle rhythm of prayerful reading in which patience, silence, and receptivity are vital ingredients.[2]

Poetry involves playing with words seriously and sometimes with a light touch. Alliteration, assonance, rhythm and rhyme all make connections across the traditions, place, space and years.

Favourite poets of mine, who enjoyed puns, riddles and acrostics include St Aldhelm, first Bishop of Sherborne (705-709 AD); Hrabanus Maurus, Archbishop of Mainz;[3] George Herbert and Samuel T Coleridge.

In the Holy Scriptures, nourishing meanings are often drawn out by wordplay.

Isaiah of Jerusalem prophesies (Isaiah 5.7): 

[God] expected justice (mishpat)

but saw bloodshed (mispach);

righteousness (tzedakah)

but heard a cry (tz’acha)!

 

Nourishing Connections - back

Jesus connects the name he gave to Simon, ‘Cephas’, which means ‘rock’ in Aramaic, as ‘Petros’, does in Greek, with his wider purpose:

          You are Peter and upon this rock I will build my church (Matthew 16.18).

Paul plays on the name of the runaway slave, Onesimus, which means useful with his aim of returning him to Philemon, his brother in Christ:

Formerly he was useless to you, but now he is indeed useful to you and to me (Philemon 11).

In Ephesians 4.16, Paul writes of the body of Christ in terms of nourishing connections:

But speaking the truth in love, we must grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and knitted together by every ligament with which it is equipped, as each part is working properly, promotes the body’s growth in building itself up in love.

Ruminations reverberate around the world. As a family we have lived in London,  Kenya, Yale USA, Cambridge and Dorset, and I owe a debt of gratitude to many young, emerging theologians, whom I have met in these and other places, especially in the global South of the Anglican Communion.

I give thanks to God for the vibrancy of the art of Silvia Dimitrova, Bulgarian Orthodox icon writer and painter, based at Downside School, Somerset. Our 17 year project together of ‘Women in the Bible’ is now complete. Many thanks also to Tristan Latchford, for his seven anthems based on Silvia's paintings and my poems.

Christine Smith, commissioning editor of Canterbury Press, has given encouraging and nurturing insight for both Signs and Seasons (2008) and for this collection of poetry. Martin Brasier’s design for the accompanying website, Nourishing Connections (grahamkings.org), is lucidly beautiful and Natalie Sloan’s photographs are scintillating. I am very grateful.

I thank God for the joy and support of my beloved family: Kathleen and Ralph Kings (parents, whose faces are reflected in the Sarah painting on the cover); Ali (wife and muse for 43 years); Rosalind, Miriam and Katie-Wambui (daughters); Jon, Munene and Solomon (Sons-in-Law) and our grandchildren.

 



[1] Collect for ‘Bible Sunday’, the Second Sunday in Advent in The Book of Common Prayer and the Last Sunday After Trinity, in Common Worship.

[2] Robert Atwell (editor), Celebrating the Seasons: Daily Spiritual Readings for the Christian Year (Norwich: Canterbury Press, 1999), p. v.

[3] Hrabanus Maurus wrote the Latin poem, Veni Creator Spiritus which was translated for the 1662 Book of Common Prayer by John Cosin, Bishop of Durham, as ‘Come Holy Ghost our souls inspire’ and is sung at the ordinations of priests and consecrations of bishops.