Tabb’s Poetry XLI

Fiat Lux

“Give us this day our daily bread,” and light:
   For more to me, O Lord, than food is sight:
      And I at noon have been
In twilight, where my fellow-men were seen
   “As trees” that walked before me. E’en to-day
From time to time there falls upon my way
   A feather of the darkness. But again
It passes; and amid the falling rain
   Of tears, I lift, O Lord, mine eyes to Thee,
                        For, lo! I see!


Whate’er my darkness be,
’Tis not, O Lord, of Thee.
The light is Thine alone;
The shadows, all my own.

Going Blind

   Back to the primal gloom
      Where life began,
   As to my mother’s womb
      Must I a man
   Not to be born again,
      But to remain:
And in the School of Darkness learn
         What mean
    “The things unseen.”

The Smiter

They bound Thine eyes, & questioned, “Tell us now
Who smote Thee.” Thou wast silent. When today
Mine eyes are holden, and again they say,
“Who smote Thee?” Lord, I tell them it is Thou.

In Tenebris

The dawn to ours is dusk to other eyes;
                  And, light away,
Our stars returning to their native skies
                  Forget the day.

If then, some life be brighter for the shade
                  That darkens mine,
To both, O Lord, more manifest be made
                  The light divine.

John B. Tabb

For a recitation, click the play button:

[soundcloud url=”https://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/118572660″ width=”100%” height=”166″ iframe=”true” /]

Father Tabb lost his sight completely about a year before he died.

“Fiat Lux”: Later Poems, p. 160; Poetry, p. 257. 1910. Fiat Lux: Latin, let there be light, a quotation from the Old Testament story of creation, Genesis 1:3. The first line quotes from the Lord’s Prayer, Luke 11:2-4. As trees is from the New Testament story of the Lord Jesus restoring sight to a blind man, Mark 8:22-26.

“Tenebrae”: Lyrics, p. 128; Poetry, p. 353. November 1895 – February 1896. Tenebrae: Latin, darkness.

“Going Blind”: Later Poems, p. 107; Poetry, p. 257. August 1908. Primal means first or earliest. The final line refers to 2 Corinthians 4:18.

“The Smiter”: Later Poems, p. 115; Poetry, p. 355. 1910. To smite is to strike or hit. The first two lines refer to the taunting received by the blindfolded Lord Jesus in the house of Caiaphas, Luke 22:63-65. Holden is archaic for held, here meaning obstructed.

“In Tenebris”: Later Poems, p. 111; Poetry, p. 259. 1910. In Tenebris: Latin, in darkness.

A convert to the Catholic faith, Rev. John Banister Tabb (1845-1909) was a priest of the Diocese of Richmond, Virginia, and Professor of English at St. Charles’ College, Ellicott City, Maryland. Poems selected, arranged, and annotated by E.L. Core.
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