THANKSGIVING

turkey1

With Christmas Carols and Christmas decorations taking over the stores when Halloween is barely past, and Black Friday looming right after it, Thanksgiving is a holiday that has a hard time maintaining its position in American life.  And what that position is can be hard to determine, beyond an excuse to consume obscene amounts of Turkey and doze through a football game under the influence of all the Tryptophan flooding one’s system.  I will probably consume a little more Turkey than is ideal for my diet and  watch some football myself.  But I hope I don’t forget what the Pilgrims were thankful for: not prosperity but survival, and a survival which meant a chance to have a new life in which they could worship God according to Scripture as they understood it, without interference from prying magistrate or prelate.  I hope I don’t forget that they thought such freedom something worth risking their survival over.  And I hope I will not be the only one pondering the question whether they might have been right about that after all.

Pilgrims2

Thanksgiving is a time to remember our Forefathers and what they struggled for.  It is also a time to ponder the virtues of thankfulness in itself.  I remember once at a picnic a rather gaudy, elaborately articulated, and heraldically colored bug flew by and landed on one of us.  We spent a few minutes oohing and ahing over its surreal beauty, and then my friend David Stott Gordon made a profound observation on the moment.  “It must be rather depressing to be an atheist,” he mused, “because they don’t have anyone to thank.”

turkey2

We are made to give thanks and praise for the thousand little wonders that the world constantly showers upon us.  Think about that football game: When a receiver makes a particularly acrobatic, even balletic catch as the consummation of the incredible timing between him and the quarterback, combining power and grace in the way that only American football allows for, some response is required of us.  We don’t just raise a Spockian eybrow; we pump our fist and shout if it was for our side, and exclaim that it was a great play even if it wasn’t.  The enjoyment of the moment is not complete without the expression of praise.  And if all such wonders are merely chance occurrences due only to the random motion of atoms and ultimately mean nothing–if indeed there is no One to thank–then our enjoyment of the world must of necessity be truncated and incomplete at best.  The holiday can serve as a reminder of the virtue of receptiveness to the blessings with which life showers us, as blessings–as gifts from the hand of God.  The thing we should be thankful for most of all is the fact that as Christians, as people who know the Creator as the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, we have some One to thank.

Pilgrims1

Thanks be to God.

For more of Dr. Williams’ writing, go to the Lantern Hollow estore and order his books, Stars Through the Clouds, Reflections from Plato’s Cave, and Inklings of Reality.

http://lanternhollow.wordpress.com/store/.

XCV

Wordsworth wrote an endless poem in blank verse on” the growth of a poet’s mind.”  I shall attempt a more modest feat for a more distracted age: a blog, “Things which a Lifetime of Trying to Be a Poet has Taught Me.”

John Skelton was an early Sixteenth-Century English poet whose lines are, in some people’s eyes, so bad that they’re good.  He gave his name to the form: iambic dimeter rhyming AAAAA etc. as long as you can keep it up, then switching to B for as long as that will go, etc.  Skeltonics aren’t the right form for many things, but they work well for some kinds of light verse, and also seem strangely appropriate for any phenomenon that just keeps coming back like a Skeltonic rhyme, er, bad penny.

John Skelton

John Skelton

A Skeltonic Upon Sanctification

 

When in did ride

My foolish pride,

I vainly tried

To run and hide;

But God espied

It, mortified

It, so it died,

Until again

It rose.  So men

Do ever sin.

But God, to win

Them to come in

And save their skin

From burning Hell

Doth in them dwell

And sweetly tell

How from the well

Of Jesus’ blood

A crimson flood

Did drown the Tree

At Calvary

To purchase me

That I might be

Forever free

His slave to be.

Then Godly fear

And holy cheer

Did drive out sin

Until again

Straight in did ride

My foolish pride,

I vainly tried

To run and hide;

But God espied

It, mortified

It, so it died,

Until again . . .

(This poem, my friend,

Will never end

‘Til Christ comes back,

And that’s a fact!)

 

Remember: for more poetry like this, go to http://lanternhollow.wordpress.com/store/ and order Stars Through the Clouds! Also look for Inklings of Reality and Reflections from Plato’s Cave, Williams’ newest books from Lantern Hollow Press: Evangelical essays in pursuit of Truth, Goodness, and Beauty.

A book that fights back against the encroaching darkness.

A book that fights back against the encroaching darkness.

 

Donald T. Williams, PhD

XCIV

Wordsworth wrote an endless poem in blank verse on” the growth of a poet’s mind.” I shall attempt a more modest feat for a more distracted age: a blog, “Things which a Lifetime of Trying to Be a Poet has Taught Me.”

Anyone seeing the influence of George Herbert here gets an official brownie point.

George Herbert

George Herbert

The Will

When our Lord chose the Church to be his bride,
He did not chide,
But took her sins as dowry, though it bled
His heart’s blood out to bear them, and he died,
Bequeathing his estate. The will was read
And published throughout all his kingdoms wide.
“I here leave all to her whom I have wed:
Forgiveness, life, myself no longer dead,”
Was what it said.

Stars Through the Clouds

Remember: for more poetry like this, go to http://lanternhollow.wordpress.com/store/ and order Stars Through the Clouds! Also look for Inklings of Reality and Reflections from Plato’s Cave, Williams’ newest books from Lantern Hollow Press: Evangelical essays in pursuit of Truth, Goodness, and Beauty.

XCIII

Wordsworth wrote an endless poem in blank verse on” the growth of a poet’s mind.” I shall attempt a more modest feat for a more distracted age: a blog, “Things which a Lifetime of Trying to Be a Poet has Taught Me.”

The Shakespearean sonnet lends itself to the standard three points and conclusion format of the essay or sermon. By itself that fact might not be too inspiring, but neither is it to be despised. Here I combine it with the rhetorical devices anaphora and epanodos (in other words, each sentence/quatrain begins just the same except different).

The Master of the Sonnet

The Master of the Sonnet

Ascriptions
Sonnet XXX

The son’s a servant; so’s the Lord a king
Who, when a dragon had usurped his lands
And led his people captive, down did fling
The gauntlet, slew the foe with his own hands.
The Lord’s a king, but so’s the Son a lamb
Led out to slaughter as a sacrifice.
See how the bright blood stains his side! One dram
Were richer far than ten Cathays of spice.
The Son’s a lamb, but so’s the Lord a lion;
The church, the tribe of Judah, is his pride.
He leads them by still waters there in Zion,
But their best drink flows from his hands and side.
King, servant, lion, lamb; he who’s adored
By all these names deserves one more: my Lord.

The Master of the Universe

The Master of the Universe

Remember: for more poetry like this, go to http://lanternhollow.wordpress.com/store/ and order Stars Through the Clouds! Also look for Inklings of Reality and Reflections from Plato’s Cave, Williams’ newest books from Lantern Hollow Press: Evangelical essays in pursuit of Truth, Goodness, and Beauty.

Donald T. Williams, PhD

Stars Through the Clouds

XCII

Wordsworth wrote an endless poem in blank verse on” the growth of a poet’s mind.” I shall attempt a more modest feat for a more distracted age: a blog, “Things which a Lifetime of Trying to Be a Poet has Taught Me.”

When everybody else was abandoning iambic pentameter for free verse, Gerard Manley Hopkins dove even deeper into the metrical sea of poetry and came up with creative pearls we still haven’t caught up to. This tribute was in New Oxford Review, May, 1981.

Gerard Manley Hopkins

Gerard Manley Hopkins

To Gerard Manley Hopkins

Daylight’s dauphin, wanwood, diamond delves,
Mountain mind-cliffs, lightning, eyes of elves,
Finches’ wings or falcon’s, wolfsnow, wet
Weeds wildness by the burn-bank lingering yet,
Thoughts of Scotus, music of Purcell
Ring out like stones rim-tumbled in a well.
All are lead-golden echoes, all a view
Of Eden Garden, fresh when it was new
Or cursed and cancerous, fell with Adam’s fall,
Blasted with death’s dread worst despair—Not all
Is this the tale. Christ did for that he came,
Grace graces: thus He flings out broad His Name;
The Spirit boods still; brooded over you.
Your firedint, mark on mind is not yet through:
Still in your lines He flings it forth anew.

Hopkins at his Desk

Hopkins at his Desk

Remember: for more poetry like this, go to http://lanternhollow.wordpress.com/store/ and order Stars Through the Clouds! Also look for Inklings of Reality and Reflections from Plato’s Cave, Williams’ newest books from Lantern Hollow Press: Evangelical essays in pursuit of Truth, Goodness, and Beauty.

Donald T. Williams, PhD