The Wedding Surprise

The Wedding Surprise

A man, a king, invites us all to jump
to make his own world great again, not ours.
Tyrants by all names, Putin or called Trump,
Imagine the world subject to their powers.

We first seek God among the many decent,
Who find their names inscribed on the king’s floor-plan.
Their gold-edged invitations the king has sent
To let them think they’re different from the poor man.

But the poor are there, waiters, homeless sons,
Ice addicts, women trafficked, trapped and cowed,
Like ‘Where’s Wally’ we watch the poorer ones,
Try to see God hidden among the wedding crowd.

Look! That person who may be from the slum,
God, roughly dressed and humble, has finally come.

  • Matthew 22:1-14
  • Jesus begins his parable, ‘The Kingdom of heaven is like a man, a king, (anthropo basiliei)’, perhaps warning the reader not to identify God with this human tyrant.
  • fabbi-fabbio-wedding-procession

    The Wedding Procession – Fabbi Fabbio (1861-1946)

For St Francistide

We’re still in the Octave of the Feast of St Francis, so I post below my poem, in a lighter tone, for this year’s feast. 

[You can still buy copies of Sonnets for Sunday here (or scroll done from this post.]


+ + +


It’s no bad thing
to celebrate the feast of St Francis
with a dog and no-one else.

I called the dog
‘God’ last night.
She didn’t mind. It suited her.

I’ve missed Mass today
and played with the dog.
She finds joy in a chewed-up old toy.

I wept a little reading my novel,
she jumped on the arm of the chair
and licked my face wet.

We met her canine companion Chloe
at the park. They ran and played at growling.
I saw a wide smile spread across her face.

She grounds herself flat, not in submission,
but in humility, greeting all humans
and dogs as we pass.

Some call her cute,
but that’s irrelevant on Francis’ day –
She runs her race with boundless spirit.



The Stigmata according to Vittoria Colonna

This is the second of two poems about St Francis by Vittoria Colonna, and my translation. 

Francesco, in cui sì come in umil cera
Con sigillo d’amor sì vive impresse
Le sue piaghe Iesù, che sol t’elesse
A mostrarne di sé l’imagin vera,

Quanto ti strinse ed a te quanto intera
Die’ la sua forma e le virtuti istesse,
Onde fra noi per la sua sposa cresse
Il tempio e ‘l seggio e l’alma insegna altera.  

 Povertade, umil vita e l’altre tante
Grazie l’alzaro al più sublime stato,
Quanto or per suoi contrari è bassa e vile;  

 L’amasti in terra, or prega in ciel, beato
Spirto, ch’ella ritorni omai pura gentile
Ai pensieri, ai desiri, a l’opre sante.  

  • Vittoria Colonna


Jesus presses wax to the living flesh
Makes his wounds a seal of love. All is heat.
Marks on Francis a true image; and fresh
with love, Francis celebrates, replete.

When he gripped you and gave to you his fire,
and virtue itself, all of you was made whole.
Now among us as his bride inspire
Time and place to prepare the soul.  

 Poverty, humble life, and their friends
Raise grace to the most sublime state,
All low and vile are brought to their ends.   

 You loved him on earth, now in heaven ask,
Blessed Spirit, that you may return straight
To your thoughts, desires, holy tasks.

  •   Translation Ted Witham 2017


The Stigmata; painted on a clasp, The Met

The Stigmata – painted on a clasp 1300-50, The Met. 



St Francis according to Vittoria Colonna

Something a little different this post: Vittoria Colonna’s poem on St Francis, and my attempt at translation.

Dietro al divino tuo gran capitano
Seguendo l’orma bella, ardito estrastì
Fra perigliose insidie, aspri costrastì
Con l’arme sol dell’umilitade in mano.

Mentre il mondo sprezzando e nude e piano
Solo dalla tua croce ricco audastì
Per deserti selvaggi, a moi mostrastì
Quanto arda il divin raggio un cor umano,

Divo Francesco, a coi l’alto Signore
Nel cor l’istoria di sua man dispènse
Del divin suo ver moi sì, ch’apparver fore
Le piaghe, ond’ei la morte e ‘l mondo vinse.

  • Vittoria Colonna (1492-1547)

Straight to God, the Captain, Chief resister he,
You track his lovely steps; direct you
Past pitfalls of peril: your mystery
That humility alone protect you.

The world disdains you, both naked and gentle,
Only from your rich cross comes the daring
Across wild deserts. God’s fundamental
Span can reach you, soothe with fervent caring.

Godly Francis, in your heart Most High shares
the present history of God’s dispensing hand:
God appears in Christ to set loose all snares:
Against him world and death can now not stand.

  • Translation: Ted Witham 

Vittoria Colonna sketched by Michelangelo