by Mark C. Watney
The heavens blazon God’s beauty
And his hand-work un-ravels the sky
Day cries out wonders to day
And night whispers wisdom to night
There is no folk nor man-tongue
Which cannot hear God’s Heaven-hum
Which thrums through all the Earth
And word-wails across all whale-roads
God timbers his temple in the sun
which rises from the morning-sea
Like a bride-groom from his groom-room
or like a giant galloping up heaven’s spire
then girdling back downward to the deep
No man can hide from its heat
God’s runes are right reeling in man’s mind
binding his soul to truth and his heart to bliss
God’s rule brings light to the eyes of body and soul
 Timbrede his templ
About Mark C Watney’s Anglo-Saxon Psalms (In Old English Alliterative Verse)
These psalms are inspired by my reading of the 11th century Old English Psalter. They are not translations, but rather, an attempt to re-capture the bold alliterative echoes found between the first and second half of each line of poetry. I have also tried to reproduce some of the “kennings” (compound words with which the Anglo Saxons loved to create new and blended images). Some of these kennings are footnoted back to the original Old English. Others I have created myself.
Mark Watney’s first poem was about a snail, published in a 1976 anthology of the best high school poetry in South Africa. Four decades later he published a 2nd poem– at the age of 56. And now, at age 60, he hopes to be finally hitting his stride. He says his brain is slowing down, yet seems to have finally acquired a certain poetic sensibility–perhaps as a consolation in old age. Mark is a professor of English at Sterling College, Kansas.
Publications since turning 56:
Dappled Things (First place, 2018 Jacques Maritain Prize for Nonfiction), Avatar Literary Review, Saint Katherine Review, The Other Journal, Presence, Cider Press Review (forthcoming), and Acumen (short-listed).