Lay for the Day 1st
1884: the first volume of the Oxford English Dictionary is published,
lexicon below is longer than the average Lay for the Day, but its
over a good deal quicker than the OED, which took 44 years to complete,
the tenth volume of the first edition appearing in 1928.
A is for Apple, an innocent
Put here first for the aliveness it shows.
The core of its globe, far from evils root,
Reveals to teeth the fiveness of the rose.
B is for Birds, that are nowhere
But make on the air or water or earth
Pictures of freedom they give to the mind,
Of flight beyond bounds of death and birth.
C is for Cat, most luxurious
Accustomed to walking while others ran,
Thing exquisite of habit and feature,
The only one to domesticate man.
D is for Dog, a model of
A born companion though weve proved unkind,
Stunted his sturdy frame, made a frailty
Of his faculties, his sharp eyes near-blind.
E is for Ear, the labyrinth
Whose winding ways lead direct to our hearts.
Musical instruments look to compound
In their forms the forms of this organs parts.
F is for Forest, whose dark
fills with fear
Some, gives their sole belonging to others.
Whatever the dangers lingering near,
The deadliest is elsewhere their brothers.
G is for God, whos called
Lover of Souls,
Father of Jesus, and not him alone,
Thanks to him, whose love is least own of goals,
Who draws us near his universal throne.
H is for Hunger, the breaker
Third of four horsemen to ride in the End.
Upon a black horse from heaven he starts
Now remember starving Lazarus, friend.
I is for Islands, which we
And also for Is, a wave of the sea;
Also for It, which is other than me;
Also for I, who am other than thee.
J is for Joinery, Jesuss
By which the last table he shared was made,
The cross the next day he hung from and prayed,
And the boats wherein his friends were afraid.
K is for Kisses, O my fair
Moon-faced, modest, silent one, unpainted.
It takes a fools courage to resist her
And brave folly to be better acquainted.
L is for Love, humbler and
Everything the everlasting law,
Our passions, death itself. The longer man
Is in longing, the more love he longs for.
M is for the Moon, planet
Whose courtly dance leads on variation,
Whose light-washed face, concealing, revealing,
Is Sorrows and Beautys illustration.
N is for North, the home of
Whence cold wind goes forth and the days of dark,
That leave summers fruitful pride disinte-
grated; whose power and glory are stark.
O is for Orange, the fruit
of the south,
Where they drop like harvest moons from the tree
And stand in the hand, and taste to the mouth
Like rising suns on a deep leaf-green sea.
P is for Poetry, fruit of
Rooted in the heart and branching in thought,
Language-leaved and music-flowered, whose dung
Is grief. Spirits are birds the fruits support.
Q is for Quest, best gift
of the giver,
By the hard way through terrors and torment
Of doubt, rock chasms, flames, a deep river
To cross to the groves and dwellings foremeant.
R is for Rocket, technologys
Lucifer launching himself at heaven,
Or a flame from mans heart sent shooting wide.
Back to fallen earth fall Nasas seven.
S is for simple Souls, Spirit
Sex and Snakes and Superstition; for Skin
And Skeleton, Secret and Seeming, Spin
And Stillness; for Saint, Soldier, Searcher within.
T is for Trees, the pillars
of the sky
And guardians of breath, which give hearts strength
To feel the force their limbs are twisted by
Established in a harmony at length.
U is for the Universe, the
Whose spinning fragments, clouds of glowing gas
And starry consorts came to be, weve learned,
When God the pin pulled from the primal mass.
V is for Vulture, bird of
Counted a villain for an ugly look
An undertaker in a shabby suit
One of the shadier turns Nature took.
Ws Water, without which
Molecular image of trinity,
The lowliest, loveliest stuff earth gives,
Up from which emerged Christs divinity.
X stands for the unknown,
as in Xmas.
Most letters live in the sociable port
But X only leaves its home on the isthmus
At night, sax in hand, to coax and exhort.
Y is for You, and I wish
you were here
For I think of you often and fondly.
Yours was the voice I was longing to hear,
Even when what you said was beyond me.
Z is for Zion, the hill of
And Zebidee, whose sons called Christ a friend;
For things that dont end or begin, like Zen,
And Zeal, whereby repentances spring.
That completes this criss-cross
Reader, with your leave, Ill go.
Lay Reader: an archive of the poetic calendar