Scott Cairns is the author of six collections of poetry. He is Professor of English at the University of Missouri and received a Guggenheim Fellowship in 2006. In this alluring collection of adaptations and translations, he presents the short sayings and teachings of the mystical fathers and mothers of Christianity. From St. Paul to Saint Therese of Lisieux, Cairns covers the love that these theologians and saints had for God and their experience of the manifold mysteries of grace, faith, and spiritual transformation. Here are two examples of the material found in the book:

Capable Flesh
by Saint Irenaeus

"The tender flesh itself
will be found one day
— quite surprisingly —
to be capable of receiving,
and yes, full
capable of embracing
the searing energies of God.
Go figure. Fear not.
For even at its beginning
the humble clay received
God's art, whereby
one part became the eye,
another the ear, and yet
another this impetuous hand.
Therefore, the flesh
is not to be excluded
from the wisdom and the power
that now and ever animates
all things. His life-giving
agency is made perfect,
we are told, in weakness —
made perfect in the flesh."

Love's Purpose
by Saint Isaac of Nineveh

"In love did He bring the world
into being, and in love
does He guide its difficult,
slow-seeming journey now
through the arc of time. In love will He
one day bring all the world to a wondrous,
transformed state, and utterly
in love will it be taken wholly up
into the great mystery of the One
who has performed these things — and all of this so that
in love absolutely will the course
and form and governance of all creation
at long last be comprised."