‘Wisdom’ by Sebastian Moore

In Sebastian Moore and Kevin Maguire, The Experience of Prayer(London: Darton, Longman & Todd; 1969)

The blog has suffered of late as I’ve been busy with other stuff:  at the start of June I presented my PhD proposal to the postgraduate seminar at St Marks Canberra.  I informally introduced my proposal with a couple of personal stories of love and the first two stanzas of this poem from Sebastian Moore.  It’s a gem.


We have lived too long without wisdom

on which alone the soul feeds:

wisdom is the structure of loving:

without it the heart is wild.

So a community without wisdom

is a collection of private wildernesses

growing more slowly with age

waiting for the full stop.


The heart, when young, is wild:

absolutely requiring the lover’s hand

it may not deny this requirement

in any of its details

and every detail is pain,

and the heart’s pain will either create hell around

or it will be denied

unless there comes the ordering

from within the heart

which is the heart becoming beautiful:

and a community whose commitment

precludes (I suppose) the lover’s hand

and ‘the sweet disorder of her dress’

is desperately in need of wisdom.


A community that has no word

for one tortured on the detail of loving,

a community without the detailed word of wisdom ,

is coarse and unschooled

whatever its spiritual pretensions,

its God an old colour-sergeant

for all the spiritual reading.


Wisdom is born in love

making the heart a city,

every movement of heart anguish

becoming a straight way.


Wisdom is born of God,

makes the heart the City of God.


Those who inhabit the city

have discovered love’s secret

which love by itself can hardly impart,

and indeed wisdom is of God

for whence on earth can a man learn

that a man’s love is himself,

that the difference between two loves

is precisely the difference between two people

whose love is to be to each other

without tyranny,

whose love is to be, together,

whose love is to be the polis:

whence on earth is learned

this courtesy without polish

consenting to the humble?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s