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  • By Adam Sedia

Incense



A hundred tongues of smoke—

Translucent wisps, lithe specters—

Rise, snaking languidly,

Curling, grasping like tendrils

At the light they invoke;


Then billow into clouds

That hang, a haze, an aura,

A veil of mystery,

Of light diffuse, pervasive,

That glows and yet enshrouds.


An otherworldly scent—

Sweetness of life eternal

Tinged with the pungency

Of mortal flesh atoning—

Wafts downward, heaven-sent.


Rise! Fill the cold, still, dank air,

Fill me with every breath;

Fill what is foul with sweetness,

Liven what stinks of death!


Rise! Fill the apse, the arches;

Fill the high vaults and dome;

Shroud all the simulacra

Masking the world to come!


Rise! With my prayers to Heaven,

With the choir’s voices, rise!

Past this corrupt world’s reaches,

To dwell in Paradise!


Adam Sedia (b. 1984) lives in his native Northwest Indiana, with his wife, Ivana, and their children, and practices law as a civil and appellate litigator. In addition to the Classical Poet's Society’s publications, his poems and prose works have appeared in The Chained Muse Review, Indiana Voice Journal, and other literary journals. He is also a composer, and his musical works may be heard on his YouTube channel.

4 commentaires


David Gosselin
David Gosselin
18 déc. 2021

The point made in an earlier comment below is very important for anyone trying to approach religious themes poetically, in my opinion. Leach wrote:


"Often, although no doubt motivated by true spiritual inspiration, many poets take the easy pathway of merely referring to the names and symbols of things the experience of which they assume their audience to share, rather than invoking the actual idea, and the emotion associated with it, from which those things arise."


This poem is definitely a good example of the poet taking a relatively simple and familiar image or metaphor, and fully developing it as a new and original idea, rather than relying on a set of pre-established meanings or beliefs. In the latter case,…

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martinmccarthy1956
martinmccarthy1956
17 déc. 2021

I think that this poem is a very subtle celebration of real religious belief, and that 'incense' rather than some solid object, like a holy statue, represents something that is more elusive and more ungraspable than most priests and preachers say it is; but is, nevertheless, right there in front of us sometimes - visibly uncoiling and spreading and rising to the heavenly music of another world - and you can smell it, you can breathe it. Then, if you are a poet (such as Adam) you can make a poem that is itself a kind of 'incense' for lifting the spirit at the end of a hard day or a hard week in the real world, that isn't that…

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drleach1953
13 déc. 2021

Although, in general, I am not a fan of "religious poetry" of the type which appears on other websites, this, I think, really captures a genuine religious feeling. Often, although no doubt motivated by true spiritual inspiration, many poets take the easy pathway of merely referring to the names and symbols of things the experience of which they assume their audience to share, rather than invoking the actual idea, and the emotion associated with it, from which those things arise. This, at its worse, degenerates into didacticism, among the worse sins in poetry. What the poet has done here, rather, is to literally lift the soul, through a succession of metaphors, ironically using the senses, yet superseding them, so that…

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ajsedia
16 déc. 2021
En réponse à

I'm glad you saw what I was going for here, which tells me the poem is successful. My goal was exactly to capture pure religious sentiment: the raw feeling of the religious experience itself, the threshold that must be crossed to enter the realm of faith. I was fortunate enough to experience this at an ordinary Sunday Mass (traditional form, of course), and I thought the intensity of the experience demanded to be conveyed in poetry. What I felt was true inward poetry, which must be felt to understand poetry properly.

Thank you for the comment!

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