Reading Charles Taylor in Spring

Posted by on Apr 21, 2017 in Journal | No Comments

Lately, my mind is flooded with scripture and homily. But as Spring arrives so does poetry, which I welcome to help interpret this new moment in my life.

I’ve been reading Charles Taylor’s Secular Age via Smith’s How (Not) to Be Secular.  I am not a philosopher, and as many have remarked over the ages, philosophy can destroy the poetic. Here is John Keats Lamia on the matter,

Do not all charms fly

At the mere touch of cold philosophy?

There was an awful rainbow once in heaven:

We know her woof, her texture; she is given

In the dull catalogue of common things.

Philosophy will clip an Angel’s wings,

Conquer all mysteries by rule and line,

Empty the haunted air, and gnomèd mine—

Unweave a rainbow, as it erewhile made

The tender-person’d Lamia melt into a shade.

Yesterday, when I walked home from the library, a cedar waxwing feather fell into my path. The vane was gray and tipped with yellow. I looked up at the birds flying overhead, and stood like a fool for awhile. Somewhere in this, Charles Taylor became clearer through verse, and I wrote these lines:


Beneath shadowed flight,

An immanent feather is held

Weighted against breath

in rebellion