Sunday, December 18, 2005

Within These Latter Days

A poem. I know that some of you will skip this one; those who hate poetry and hate blogs with poetry. However, I think this one is apropos of our current life here on earth, and you might agree - if you read through to the end.

"Within These Latter Days"
by James Kavanaugh
from "Faces in the City"

Within these latter days and strangely fearful times
Of rising stress and weird, apocalyptic signs
When mortars flash like lightning East to West
And prophets crowd the streets to talk of sudden death
When tidal waves and earthquakes threaten frightened men
And new messiahs call apostles once again
Where once the faithful built cathedrals in their town
Basilic banks now rise to consecrate the ground.

Rouen, St. Peter's, Notre Dame and ancient Chartres
Are vanquished now and soon will rot and fall apart
And in their dust will rise a great financial shrine
Where marble pillars from a monument, divine
With sacred sanctuaries, eternal granite walls,
With tabernacled vaults and deeply hallowed halls
And sometimes busts of saints who learned their doctrine well
That only faulty credit dooms a man to hell.

The sacrifice is subtle -- blood need never flow
As long as true believers pay the debts they owe --
No waiting judgment till some final trumpet call,
The Book of Life's contained in cabinets by the wall,
Confessionals for debtors, sinners must atone,
And excommunication when the credit's gone.
And soon I've heard, a vested choir, a European organ,
With stained glass windows overhead of Astor, Ford and Morgan.

A very important thing you need to know about this poem is that it was published in 1972. That's right, 1972 - not recently.

I found this book of poetry while I was re-arranging the furniture in my living room. We have a wall of shelves and knic-knacks, and I will admit that a few of the books have not been touched in the 23 years we have lived here. I sat down to reacquaint myself with Kavanaugh, and when I read this poem, I was struck with the modernity of the subject, especially the lines "tidal waves and earthquakes", and "Basilic banks now rise". It was announced in our newspaper recently, that yet another large bank is moving their headquarters to our city and will be building a skyscraper downtown. The numbers of people who have over-extended, un-manageable credit are legion. Perhaps we need to learn from this poem, which is even more apropos now than it was in 1972.

James Kavanaugh is a former Catholic priest. If you are interested in him or his poetry, go here:


Surcie said...

Hey, Kenju. I'm all for bloggers sharing poems they enjoy. Thanks for exposing us to this one.

Prego said...

I'm on the fence about poetry - funny, since I'm an English teacher. I do see your point. It's amazing how little we've progressed. It's also fun to see old National Geographic magazines and read about some old strife or conflict on this goofy planet that has yet to be resolved.

Here from Michele's today.

CarpeDM said...

I also enjoy reading new poetry. This is really interesting, especially considering that it is fairly accurate for today as well in 1972.

Rachel said...

I enjoyed the poetry. I was surprised after reading it that it was not recently written. Certainly applies to today's times.

Jean-Luc Picard said...

The poem was very well written. It suggests it was much earlier.

Michele sent me here.

srp said...

This certainly is up to date with current events. The crumbling of the cathedrals and churches speaks of the efforts to remove anything to do with God from society and replace it with the "new" god, the almighty dollar, or euro.

colleen said...

The part about mortars flying sounds like today as well.

Kenju, Floyd Fest (world music festival) is scheduled for July 28-30 this year. If you can come let me know and we can meet up. Maybe you'd get to meet Fragments Fred and the other 3 bloggers from Floyd as well. You can find out more about the festival by going to

margalit said...

That's a bit negative for me. But I'm not big on poetry as a rule. Michele sent me.

mar said...

I enjoyed the poem, Kenju. It is nice to find different subjects while reading blogs. I have a lot to catch up on! And thanks for your kind comment today!

OldOldLady Of The Hills said...

Most interesting Judy...and as you pointed out..very timely and could have been written today! Michele sent me today, but I LOVE coming here so, I would have stopped by anyway! Merry Christmas to you, dear Judy.

poopie said...

It's really sad to see how many have SO much while so many others have nothing materially. The oddity is, that the more one has the more they seem to be inclined to want even more.

Dak-Ind said...

that really is relevant, isnt it. when a persons work stands the test of time to continue its relevance on into the next generation or further, its inpressive... but in this case rather sad. michele sent me.

jane said...

interesting poem. This brought to mind a saying that was used in the church in 1978: God won't be late in '78.

Michele sent me :)

kontan said...


here via michele

Bhakti said...

Hi Judy!

I enjoyed reading this poem. I couldn't help but think, while reading it, that no matter what goes on in the world nothing can touch (or ruin) the shrine of Divine Love that lives in my heart.That's one constant, for sure. Thank God!


Windfall Woman said...

Merry Christmas!

Carmi said...

Great poetry is timeless. This poem absolutely proves it.

My first published work - in my high school's annual - consisted of a pair of poems that, in retrospect, would be best never read by anyone again. But it gave me the fever to publish, so in that respect it was a good thing to do at the time.

These days, I leave poetry to the pros. I'll stick to plain old prose.

utenzi said...

Michele sent me to see you, Judy. In a bit I'll come back and read the post about men and present wrapping.

The poem doesn't ring my bell, I'm afraid. To me the 1972 aspect is unremarkable. Even if it was in 1272 much of it would have rung true for the age. Few prophetic statements seem to be any better than astrology columns. I remember being quite taken by books about Edgar Cayce when I was a kid, but little I've seen since has impressed me with their prescience. I keep meaning to go back and see if Cayce is as amazing to adult eyes as he was to me back then.

David ParsonsWV said...

This is a highly prophetic poem. Here in Clearwater, FL a landmark downtown church is being torn down for a bank and condos. Thanks for putting this poem in your blog.

sage said...

Thanks for sharing the poem--and I don't mind blogs with poetry!

Peter said...

Hi Judy there's a link to FTS on my sidebar.

dena said...

Still very timely for today's standards. Hard to believe it was written in '72, and still rings true.

Shelli said...

Fascinating! Sometimes you will come across things like that which were written decades or even centuries ago and they still have found relevance in today. I loved this poem.

Loren said...

Generally I think it takes mainstream audiences about 100 years to catch up with the ideas poets, or even novelists, are discussing in their works.

Quote a contemporary poet and most people will never have heard of him, no matter how much they might like his/her ideas.

And, strangely enough, I seldom bother to read sites that DON'T quote some poetry.

Green-Eyed Lady(GEL) said...

Thank you for sharing this. What a delightful discovery for you!
I love to read and write poetry.-
In fact, I have another blog site where I write much poetry, but I'm redoing that site, so only one "Fluff" poem is up. I need to repost the others.

Maria said...

How great to come across one of James Kavanaugh's poems. It was like meeting an old friend. Thanks too for the site. I spent some time there reading and remembering.