WHEN TO JUST SCROLL ON

InternetWrong2

I have been complimented more than once for my way of conducting controversies on the internet: courteously, constructively, with substance.  It took me back a bit at first.  I didn’t think I was doing anything special.  Then I started paying attention to the norm.  I think I fail often at speaking the truth in love, but apparently the bulk of the people on the internet are even worse.  Here are some guidelines I try to follow.  I do so rather inconsistently, but I hope I’m getting better.

1.  Think twice if the thread belongs to someone you barely know, or who is only a “Facebook Friend.” Jumping in to correct people on someone else’s thread, or, worse, actually hijacking it, makes you a “troll.”  It’s rude.  JUST SCROLL ON.

InternetWrong32.  Do you have an actual point to make, or are you just trading insults?  The latter will convert nobody and only alienate not only your opponents but any neutral lurkers you want to keep them from influencing.  If that’s all you’ve got, JUST SCROLL ON.

3.  Do you have an actual point to make, or are you just saying things that you think will make you look smart to the group among the onlookers you are vainly trying to impress, or at least smarter than your opponent?  The latter will convert nobody and only alienate not only your opponents but any neutral lurkers you want to keep them from influencing.  If that’s all you’ve got, JUST SCROLL ON.

4.  Can you make your point in one short paragraph, or a couple at most? Nobody is going to read the interminable essay you are about to post.  Nobody is going to follow the link to the massive dissertation you read (or wrote on your blog) on the topic.  They might not even bother to roll their eyes at you.  (I read, and write, long articles and even books.  There is a place for them.  A Facebook thread isn’t it.)  All together now:  JUST SCROLL ON.

5.  OK, you’ve made succinctly and courteously an actually relevant point. Your opponent isn’t interested; he just wants to keep arguing, without even taking it into account.  You’ve called him back to it once, but it did no good.  The discussion has now degenerated into a contest about who gets the last word.  Let him have it.  The only alternative is to sink to his level.  You can take some of the sting out of it by noting, “I think we’re just starting to repeat ourselves.  I’ve made my point.”  Then if he takes the last word, he’s the one who looks bad.  Let him.  JUST SCROLL ON.

InternetWrong1

I think you get the idea.  There is definitely a place for internet debate.  We don’t want to let nonsense and ignorance go unchallenged.  But sadly, we often do more harm than good when we let ourselves get goaded into trading rants.  When you feel that temptation, what should you do?    All together now:  JUST SCROLL ON.

To order some of Dr. Williams’ long books, such as REFLECTIONS FROM PLATO’S CAVE or INKLINGS OF REALITY, go to  http://lanternhollow.wordpress.com/store/.

CXVI

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.”

 Combining Alliterative Meter (here loosely conceived) with rhyme produces results that just sound so cool that one wonders why we don’t do it more.  But maybe the product is just so rich that it is kind of like pecan pie—too rich for our daily diet.

Commentary, 1 Tim. 3:16

The Master of the Universe

The Master of the Universe

Great is the mystery of godliness, given

To men, in Man’s very flesh manifested:

Deftly the wing of Dove descending

On Voice from vaulted Heaven riven

Vouched for His virtue, tried and tested;

Many a mighty messenger wending

Far from the hallowed halls of Heaven

Watched the saints from Satan wrested;

Soon the Sword, asunder rending

Flesh and spirit, flashed, driven

Into joint and marrow, bested

Unbelief and evil, ending

Devil’s darkness.  Dare the frame

Of mortal man, albeit mending,

Stand before the fearsome Name

Of Glory given to Him who came?

He came befriending.

LambVictor

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

CXV

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.”

 It is now 1981-82, my second and last year as Temporary Lecturer in English at the University of Georgia, teaching a full load of Freshman Composition while writing my dissertation.  The dissertation was on Edmund Spenser.  Can you tell?  Dr. Ewbank was my faculty adviser for my undergraduate degree in English.

PortraitSpenser

Edmund Spenser

 

On Spenserian Stanza

For Two Teachers: Edmund Spenser and Frances Ewbank.

 

When Spenser wrote The Faerie Queene, he made

A brand new stanza up in which to frame

The glorious knights and ladies he portrayed

Triumphant over villains full of shame.

Ever different, yet still the same,

It had to hold up through the spacious land

Of Faerie from end to end, and flame

More bright with virtue there than e’er the hand

Of author had achieved, in verses quaint or grand.

FQDragon

Ottava Rima had the flow he needed,

But seemed in live a lady far too light

To shadow forth the gallant knights who heeded

The Code of Maidenheed and served the bright

And gracious Gloriana truly.  Might

A pensive sonnet cycle then avail?

But that would never serve to show the flight

Of narrative events in time.  The tale,

It seemed, must then be dight in wholly different mail.

Una and the Lion, from Spenser's Fairie Queene

Una and the Lion, from Spenser’s Fairie Queene

Yet if the two could somehow be combined—

Could move with supple dignity, but yet

Be not in short, concise quatrains confined

Nor have its forward movement always let,

Caught in the closing couplet’s double net;

And yet still pause for needed contemplation—

With light impediment, enough to whet

The reader’s appetite for exploration—

Now that would truly be a gallant innovation!

FQBook

Suppose we take Ottava Rima, add,

To slow its headlong plunge, a single line,

Rhyming with the last, but subtly clad

With just one extra foot to be a sign

Of need to sip with care such heady wine—

So came The Fairie Queene.  And there has been

No poem in which the Glory seemed to shine

More brightly since the storied epoch when

The Sweet Singer of Israel wielded the sword and the pen.

Redcrosse Knight (St. George of Merry England) Slaying the Dragon

Redcrosse Knight (St. George of Merry England) Slaying the Dragon

And thou, doctor mihi carissima,

Who showed me how to look with eyes undim

Upon the bright, the ars dulcissima

Of sacred Poesy, and thence to skim

Cream, not of just aesthesis, nor of whim,

But of the Truth well imaged forth, displayed,

Filling the cup of wisdom to the brim;

If worthily I now wield Spenser’s blade,

The praise is thine, who long hast labored, taught, and prayed.

Spenser's Tomb

Spenser’s Tomb

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

CXIV

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.”

 This poem was once rejected by a major literary journal (which shall remain nameless) on the grounds that the editor did not see any reason why the subject demanded a sonnet.  Let us just say that fourteen lines do not a sonnet make.  So much for the supposed expertise of our cultural gatekeepers.  But why shouldn’t the poem have been a sonnet if it had wanted to?  So much for the alleged wisdom of those gatekeepers.  Wordsworth or Keats would have known better!  While this fourteen line poem is not a sonnet of any kind, I do think it has an intriguingly intricate rhyme scheme.

On One of the Functions of Morning

fog1

When the first fingers of light steal through the grass,

Angling down through spaces between the limbs

Of trees, greeting the ground-fog as they pass,

The separate the darkness into shadows

That stretch out lengthwise clear across the meadows.

I have been up a time or two, on whims,

Early enough to see it come to pass.

 

For it is shy, this light that flits and skims

And touches everything so very lightly.

As imperceptibly as starlight dims

It fades to greater brightness, slips away

Before the bolder light that’s merely day,

And leaves the lucky ones it touches slightly

More inclined to follow after whims.

fog3

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

CXIII

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.”

One of Martin Luther’s most serious disciples was Johan Sebastian Bach, the greatest contrapuntist (some would say the greatest composer) who ever lived.  This is the first of a number of attempts to get something of the quality of Bach’s music down in words—a task not ever to be completely achieved!  How do you express the idea of, not just one note interacting with other notes to form the harmony, but whole melodies interacting with each other?  The acrostic, among other things, tries to capture something of the multilayered nature of Bach’s work.

Bach

PortraitBach2

Joining word to pitch and pitch to time,

Sounds line up to flow into the air.

Bach could make whole lines with lines to rhyme

And flow in streams of thought beyond compare.

Christ gave him this grace, to let us hear

His angels’ songs with (now!) the fleshly ear.

PortraitBach3

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