A lot of examples of poems by Patience Worth printed in various articles about her are, to save space, the shorter ones. Often only a line or two are given as examples of her writing. The following poem is one of her longer poems taken from a collection of her poetry published in 1923 by her friend, Herman Behr in a collection titled “Light From Beyond”. Arguably, parsing might be changed which I find often helps me to understand the meaning of her poems and sometimes reading them quickly—out loud, makes the meaning clearer for me. Perhaps this poem will speak to others in a way it does not speak to me; that is the genius of her work. I therefore will resist the temptation to give my interpretation of this poem.
I would like to remind the reader that Pearl Curran received many of these poems one letter at a time, unpunctuated in rapid order, using the Ouija Board as a “thought dispeller” as she listened to ‘Patience Worth’ or saw visions in her mind. Later on, Pearl Curran discarded the Ouija Board and simply repeated the words as she heard them. She often said she did not understand the poetry as she was discerning it. I have a difficult time accepting that poetry like this came from the subconscious mind of Pearl Curran. Although she was not an unintelligent person, according to those who knew her she was not capable of poetry such as this.
GOD’S ANSWERING SILENCE
When I would seek my God and know Him;
When I would feel my God and see Him;
When I would list to the gentle murmur of His tongue—
Listening, listening, listening, would I stand
Praying for a sound that might give me the key
To the awful silence which oppresseth me!
In the hours when bedlam teems
Like a turbulent ocean o’er the earth;
When the wrathful waters sweep
Torrentially against the walled ways;
Within these shrieking instants, I stand awed
Before the awful silence of my God.
Heaven may descend, and, licking ‘cross the field,
Wipe the verdant valleys dry of dew,
Blot the sunlight, sweep the waters
In a flooding toward the sea.
Within this anguish there is naught for me but silence,
And I stand awed before the awful silence of my God.
To hunger as a wolf whose vitals gnaw;
To lick my thirsty lips in anguish at their parch;
To let my aching eyes gaze up into the sun,
Burning their pits dry, while my heart
Beneath the thirst crumbles and sifts
Like dusts between my ribs!
What if my throat gives up an awful cry!
What should I gaze into the silent sky,
And bay defiance at the Lord!
Lo, before the awful silence of my God–
I am dismayed!
I cannot, cannot fill my empty ears of silence.
I cannot, cannot stay the parch with dry instants,
Tongueless atoms of the slipping hours.
I cannot, cannot see within the empty arch
A promise writ upon the moon’s face or the sun.
Must I then flatten on the parched earth and die,
Letting my mould become a part of greater moulds.
Waiting some breeze of some far distant morn,
To spray my atoms ‘cross a verdant field,
That they take root and grow anew?
If in the arguments of man
I find an empty cup, and there be a God,
Why doth silence fill the thing?
Shall I live these tedious hours of torment,
Giddily following a phantom promise,
Drunk upon the interlacing of the path
That leads me on, with no conviction, no assurance?
My soul revolts! My spirit cries aloud unto
The great and awful Power which tortureth it;
The chaos of Eternity flinging it forth
With a question upon its lips—-
And no answer in its ears!
Make a hapless bowl with no office to perform,
Save stand upon a cliff and let the rains
Of heaven descend, or stand and dry
For want of filling;
To feel the awful chill of realization!
Consciousness shrinks at the chaos of eternity!
I, in my finite being may touch the pot,
May feel the cool, the sweating of its cheek;
May tip its lips, and lay them, sweet to mine;
May pour the water of my soul
In a fount of loving forth, embracing,
Embracing its rude clay, but confident,
That I upon my breast do hold the pot.
I, in my finite being may feel
The exaltation of the God-stream touch!
My soul inflates with lurid, vague imaginings,
Half consciousness, half imbued with dreams.
The midnight sky which fits the canopy
Beneath which I seek in blindness, rifts,
And lo, the lightnings descend upon me,
And I find my tongue hath seven points,
And mine eyes behold the pageantry
Of dreams, passing in that mid-land
Twixt the finite and the infinite!
Mine ears deep, and the depths they reach
Make my heart flutter as a bird within
A wicker hung, fearful of the half-gleaned Truth!
Before the awfulness of the silence of my God my lips unlock,
And I blindly prate rust-bitten wisdoms—
A false sling which falleth short to carry
The stone I would hurl at the great God’s heart!
Before this impertinence I confront His silence!
And my foolish lips close, and I wait
With confidence the tide, when my ears shall be
More pitlike, deeper, and I may hear
The still, small voice, singing in The Void-land of Eternity.
I am confused with listening and forget to feel !