Sunday, October 4, 2009

The Etymology of Mary (Poem)

L.L. Barkat, managing editor at High Calling Blogs, is giving away a copy of Scott McKnight's The Real Mary. McKnight's book strips away theological controversies about Mary of the Bible, making the case that she is courageous, a woman of faith, "a woman for us to honor." Read L.L.'s comments about Mary and the book here and here, and then leave your own response to be entered automatically for the give-away. Submissions for the contest will be taken until October 8, 6:00 p.m. Eastern time.

Immediately below is my new poem answering L.L.'s call to share our thoughts about Mary.

The Etymology of Mary

I

Hers is a name
disputed of origin.

I've read
it could from Latin come,
from the Greek

I never learned to speak,
my father's father's tongue.

Also − maybe − from the Hebrew:

Maria an echo back to
Mariam from there to
Miryam.

Meanings still uncertain,
let's out-cast these:

sea of bitterness
rebelliousness

Yet Mary yet
might keep as I:
wished-for child.

Received of mer,
Egyptian for to love,

Bid compound with Yam
to get one loving Yahweh
thus beloved of Yahweh:

Miryam both loving and beloved.


II

Who goes by Mary so
makes such stories told:

First followers of Mary's son
Mary of Bethany
and Mary Magdalene

Two disciplines
two times as much devotion gave.

Gaelic Maery took it
bittersweet;
in her remembering

Two queens of  England
− one the Tudor, the other Stuart −
bore it not too holy.

And Scottish Mairi
from Bloody Mary
herself did verily flee.

Later, Mary Shelley
writ large a Frankenstein
most men did wrest with horror.

Mary Cassatt with gentleness
lent brush to paint
pink-sweeetened cherub's face

A son in mother's lap a-dream.

Unknown interior Africa
Mary Kingsley sought to plot by name
the game of British exploration.

And Typhoid Mary
− Mary Mallon so-called −

Cooked up outbreaks,
more than one
spreading ill through all of Ireland.


III

All Hail Mary
pray Marian's prayers
the angels' salutation

for

Janna of Finland
Manya of Russia
Maurine in Ireland
Manon a French Marie
Miep of the Dutch
My from Sweden
Marika the Czech
Maike from Germany
Marzena in Poland
Malia and Mele Hawaii-sent
Maire the Irish
Mairwen a Welsh
Mere the Maori
Mara from Hungary
Maryam, one Arabic version.

12 saints: 9 blessed

Of Mary's name
first ladies also,
and actresses a few

Lowly servants, less,
but supplicants, more.

Madonnas:

Surely
some
these be.

Copyright 2009 Maureen E. Doallas. All Rights Reserved.

3 comments:

L.L. Barkat said...

Ooo! What fun! I love the twists and turns, the surprises of this one.

Marcus Goodyear said...

I like the list of Marys in part three the best. Lots of interesting poetic factoids here.

lucy said...

thanks for pointing me this way, maureen (of irish maurine perhaps?) i did enjoy the etymology of mary very much.