The sound upon my shoulders,
Upon the mountain roads,
Beside the many channels of waters,
Seemed like a prayer of God’s
That pulled my hair and cried unto my ears
In its distress and fears.
And from its secret place,
The cherub it rode, to scatter and chase
That against which it cried:
With lightnings disbelief was discomfited,
My head struck and perfected.
Hailstones and coals of fire,
I thought, I’ll have to put
This child down and his unquenchable ire,
And let him walk our route,
Or stand and scream his tantrum off to the earth
That shook because he was wrath.
But, no, I kept him there,
And let my head be struck,
Again, and again, with his wild prayer,
And thought, with any luck
He’ll pull through this crying and I’ll be brought
Above the refuge of thought.
Edward Clarke’s A Book of Psalms will be published by Paraclete Press in April 2020. He presented Clarke’s Psalter, a documentary about writing these poems, broadcast on BBC Radio 4. He is also the author of two books of criticism, most recently The Vagabond Spirit of Poetry.
“It has been my privilege to watch the genesis of Edward Clarke’s hugely ambitious project, a Psalter emerging from yet defiant of our shallow, ‘progressive’ age. I have no doubt that these adept and marvelously transfigured psalms will be read (and read aloud) for many years to come.”
– Ned Denny, author of Unearthly Toys: Poems & Masks
“These poems are like jewels in our turbulent world, revealing a powerful poetic imagination that engages profoundly with the role of art and of God within the human imagination and in our modern world. Provocative and challenging in form and substance, they should be heard as well as read.”
– Anna Scott-Brown, director of Overtone Productions and producer of the BBC Radio 4 series Conversations on a Bench and Clarke’s Psalter