When I moved here 26 years ago there were five churches in our valley – two Catholic and three Presbyterian. Now all but one, have closed, been deconsecrated and converted to houses.
Any of these could have been the subject of i am a little church. But the one which is still a church, Enfield Presbyterian – perched on a hill looking towards the Kakanui mountains, especially reminds me of this poem and it seemed an appropriate choice for this first Sunday of poetry month.
It’s by e.e.cummings from Selected Poems 1923 – 1958, published by Faber.
i am a little church (no great cathedral)
far from the splendour and squalor of hurrying cities
– i do not worry if briefer days grow briefest,
i am not sorry when sun and rain make april
my life is the life of the reaper and the sower;
my prayers are prayers of earth’s own clumsily striving
(finding and losing and laughing and crying) children
whose any sadness or joy is my grief or my gladness
around me surges a miracle of unceasing
birth and glory and death and resurrection:
over my sleeping self float flaming symbols
of hope, and i wake to a perfect patience of mountains
i am a little church (far from the frantic
world with its rapture and anguish) at peace with nature
– i do not worry if longer nights grow longest;
i am not sorry when silence becomes singing
winter by spring, i lift my diminutive spire to
merciful Him Whose only now is forever;
standing erect in the deathless truth of His presence
(welcoming humbly His light and proudly His darkness)