Daniel Berrigan S.J.
Tulips in the Prison Yard
Many poets, believe me, could do better by your
sovereign beauty, your altogether subtle
transfiguration of blank nature –
so winds, nights, sunlight
colorless wraiths, are drawn into
what can only be called a “new game.”
Well. I will not glory
In infirmity. Yeats, Wordsworth would look once
breathe deeply, sharpen their quills,
with a flourish pluck you from time.
You are jail-yard blooms, you wear bravery with a difference.
You are born here will die here;
making you, by excess of suffering
and transfiguration of suffering, ours.
I see prisoners pass
in the dead spur of spring, before you show face
Are you their glancing tears
the faces of wives and children, the yin yang of hearts
to fro like hanged necks
perpetual cruelty, absurdity?
pass and pass; shades of men, pre-men,
khaki ghosts, shame, futility.
Between smiles, between reason for smiles, between
life as fool’s pace and life as celebrant’s flame –
Yet, thank you. Against the whips
of ignorant furies, the slavish pieties of judas priests
you stand, a first flicker in the brain’s soil, the precursor
Dawn might be, man may be
spelling it out in the hand’s palm
of a blind mute.
God is fire, is love
Father Daniel Berrigan, S.J. >>> MORE…
Daniel Berrigan, S.J.
Foreword by Philip Berrigan
All the poems Daniel Berrigan wrote during 18 months in Danbury Prison
, 1973 Greensboro, North Carolina