Paxtonvic’s Blog

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What clergy keep under their beds- and poems for comfort

I wonder if Im the only Vicar who has a veritable store of goodies under their bed? I had a good look this afternoon, and found amongst a collection of dog collars and old sermons, some copies of the Church Times dating back to 2007! I tend to read them in bed and then forget Ive pushed them underneath the bedframe for safe keeping.

So, I gave a few a glance whilst having a quiet moment and was taken by an article from a more recent copy –  8th January 2010 – one with the least dust on it!  Page 14 had an artilce headed:

” Poetry remembered lifts the veil ”  written by John Andrew Denny. Mr Denny suffers from ME which struck him in 1991.  He writes eloquently how poetry has helped him a great deal during his years of illness – reflecting 0n  St Paul’s words from Romans 5 ” suffering teaches us patience, patience brings perseverance, and perseverance gives rise to hope” . He says ” I admit I have  never quite rejoiced in my suffering, but through poetry I built a sanctuary of understanding which helped preserve me from despindency and resentment”.

In another paragraph he continues: ” The return to wakefulness is a good time to read poetry, because  of  the mind’s enhanced receptiveness to those subconscious elements that distinguish poetry from other forms of writing. It was a prayer-like poem by Ruth Pitter * which makes use of these elements, which first made me realise the spiritual importance of stillness:

” Cure me with quietness

Bless me with peace;

Comfort my heaviness,

Stay me with ease.

Stillness in solitude

Send down like dew;

Mine armour of fortitude

piece and make new:

That when I rise again

I may shine bright

As the sky after rain,

Day after night.

Mr Denny is planning to collect poems which he has found most comforting into an anthology, with the provisional title “Poems of  Consolation for the Chronically Ill and in  Pain.  He invites anyone who is or has been ill to send him the poems or prayer-poems that they turn to for inspiration. His e-mail address is:

* About Ruth Pitter:

Emma Thomas “Ruth” Pitter, CBE, FRSL (7 November 1897 – 29 February 1992) was a 20th century British poet.

She was the first woman to receive the Queen’s Gold Medal for Poetry in 1955, and was appointed a CBE in 1979 to honour her many contributions to English literature.

In 1974, she was named a “Companion of Literature”, the highest honour given by the Royal Society of Literature

In her words:

Did I tell you I’d taken to Christianity? Yes, I went & got confirmed a year ago or more. I was driven to it by the pull of C. S. Lewis and the push of misery. Straight prayer book Anglican, nothing fancy […] I realize what a tremendous thing it is to take on, but I can’t imagine turning back. It cancels a great many of one’s miseries at once, of course: but it brings great liabilities, too.

  • Letter, Ruth Pitter to Nettle Palmer, dated Jan. 1, 1948.

Cited in The anatomy of a friendship: the correspondence of Ruth Pitter and C.S. Lewis, 1946-1962, Don W. King

Ruth in her garden

January 23, 2010 - Posted by | Uncategorized

1 Comment »

  1. Dear Annette –

    I am flattered to be subject of this blog! I am writing to tell you that the anthology I talked about compiling in my January 2010 Church Times article has now been published by Lion Hudson, with the title Through Corridors of Light: Poems of Consolation in Time of Illness.
    You can learn more about it in the support site I set up for it at, where you can see the Contents List, read about Poetry Therapy in modern healthcare, see more poems discovered since publication, and order copies of the book.
    I do hope you’ll order a copy, and discover how helpful it can be for anyone who is seriously ill.
    John Andrew Denny

    Comment by John Andrew Denny | December 4, 2011 | Reply

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