Wisdom on Wednesdays—Poets, pagans, and magicians


Nativity, oil on canvas, 30 x 36 in.

“Those who believe in magic, the poets and the pagans, should be tenderly handled by the theologian.  The magician, as with the shepherd, is the first worshiper of Christ, and Christ without magic is unthinkable: the burning bush, the speaking stones, the possessed pigs, the fermented water, and so on, culminating in the bread which is the flesh of God and the bleeding grape from the vine of the murdered Christ.”   —from the essay “Miracles”  (1943)


In memoriam—John S. Schmitt, 1927-2012

Carl Schmitt’s seventh son, my father John Stuart Schmitt, died two years ago this past Friday, August 22.  This brief poem by Carl Schmitt captures in an uncanny way the character of a man who carried on his father’s legacy in an exceptionally fruitful, yet unassuming way.


We felt the stable universe was in his soul
Where body joined it.  Quietly the two were one.
We saw him when we saw soil-knit, the giant bole
Of some great tree; we heard him in the benison
Of bells in villages . . . and now he’s gone.
His eyes could look on visions for his heart was clean,
And in humility he knew the sins of man
Because he knew himself.  And sometimes in the sheen
Of rivers we could see ourselves, a caravan
Winding away to the sea.  And now he’s gone.

August 25, 1927


John, oil on canvas, c. 1945, 18 x 15 in.