CLXI

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.”

Language, even the most unsophisticated and banal, is an ongoing miracle.  I have explained why in detail elsewhere (Mere Humanity: G. K. Chesterton, C. S. Lewis, and J. R. R. Tolkien on the Human Condition, Nashville: Broadman, 2006, p. 112f.).  Here I simply celebrate it, in Old English Alliterative Meter.

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COMMENTARY, GEN. 2:19, # 2

Then Man, the wielder of words, awoke,

Saw the sunlight slanting down,

Saw the ground-fog swelling upward,

Heard the light laughter of leaves,

Climbed the mountains, mist0enshrouded,

Felt the wind, wet with rain,

Saw the stabbing stars in darkness,

Watched the antics of wild creatures,

Heard within his head the sounds,

Pulled them forth, in patterns ordered,

Uttered into air around him

Liquid Names: in lilting language

Spoke the mighty spell of speech.

AdamNaming2

Remember: for more poetry like this, go to https://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.  And look for Williams’ very latest book, Deeper Magic: The Theology behind the Writings of C. S. Lewis, due out Sept.30, 2016, from Square Halo Books!

Donald T. Williams, PhD

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CLX

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.”

What might the Centurion in charge of the Crucifixion of Jesus have been thinking?  What got him to say, “Surely this man was the Son of God!”

"Gordon's Calvary"

“Gordon’s Calvary”

THE CENTURION SPEAKS

Sonnet XLIX

 

No question but it was a dirty job.

The scourging by itself was bad enough;

To drive the spikes, though, really takes a tough

And calloused character.  The women sob,

The victim screams, and even as the mob

Cries out for more, men wince.  The really rough

Part comes when all four soldiers huff and puff

To raise upright the heavy wooden stob,

 

For then the man’s own weight begins to work:

The tendons crack, the flesh begins to tear—

And when he thinks it’s more than he can bear,

They drop him in the socket with a jerk.

And after we did that, he said (It’s true!),

“Forgive them, for they know not what they do.”

Crucifixion-Glass

Remember: for more poetry like this, go to https://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.  And look for Williams’ very latest book, Deeper Magic: The Theology behind the Writings of C. S. Lewis, due out Sept. 30, 2016, from Square Halo Books!

Donald T. Williams, PhD

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Neel’s Gap

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.”

 We have a natural hunger for wild places.  We want them accessible even if we do not want to live in them permanently.  Even that is getting to be harder.

 

THE FIRST THIRTY MINUTES OUT OF NEEL’S GAP

Curtal Sonnet # 7

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It’s amazing how the traffic noise can carry

Across the ridges and the open spaces.

This is the wilderness to eyes, but ears

Find it a good sight harder job to parry

Civilization just by changing places.

The legs pump and a spray-paint blaze appears.

 

This is the Appalachian Trail?  I say

The sound of engines going through their paces

Ought not to be a part of what one hears!

Just when you think you’re far enough away,

A trucker changes gears.

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Remember: for more poetry like this, go to https://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.  And look for Williams’ very latest book, Deeper Magic: The Theology behind the Writings of C. S. Lewis, due out Sept. 1, 2016, from Square Halo Books!

Donald T. Williams, PhD

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The Skeptic and the Text

I’ve noticed a new type of skeptic over the last few years. He questions whether there even is a text of the New Testament. There are so many manuscripts and so many variants, how can we ever claim with any credibility to know what the original manuscripts of the New Testament even said? And since we don’t even have access to the text, how can we possibly treat it as authoritative and trustworthy?

Codex Alexandrinus

Codex Alexandrinus

The ignorance of the science of textual criticism on the part of this skeptic is truly abysmal. But you can explain the actual state of the manuscript tradition, the fact that the New Testament is better attested than any other ancient document, the criteria by which we evaluate those manuscripts and reconcile their variant readings, the tried and true validity of those criteria, and how trivial most of the variants actually are, until you are blue in the face, and not faze him one bit. He really doesn’t care about any of that. He really doesn’t care about whether we can know what the New Testament says, much less what it says, still less whether it is true. He just clings to the variants as his excuse for escaping its authority. He likes having learned the word variant so well that he just keeps repeating it without ever responding to your patient attempts at explaining what it actually means and what its significance actually is.

Codex
What saddens me most about this mindset is the impoverishment of mind and heart that inevitably flows from it. You’ve found a new way to justify your self-referential doubt. Congratulations. But what are you missing as a result?

I need a sonnet to answer that question.

The skeptic doubts there even is a text.
He hides behind the tiny variations
And will not hear a reasonable narration
Of methods: what comes first and what comes next,
Criteria to leave us unperplexed.
His questions answered bring him no elation;
He must not really want illumination:
The truth he claims to seek just leaves him vexed.

The seeker of the Truth will not be whipped
So easily. He turns from what is not
To all the rich wine waiting to be sipped,
So revels in the pleasure of the plot,
The romance of the ancient manuscript,
The treasure of the tittle and the jot.

Donald T. Williams, PhD

CorsairMs

For more of Dr. Williams’ poetry, go to https://lanternhollow.wordpress.com/store/ and order STARS THROUGH THE CLOUDS.  For more of his apologetics, order REFLECTIONS FROM PLATO’S CAVE.

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Dayhiker’s Dilemma

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 passage of time is one of the great mysteries, and it strangely impacts our experience of everything in life.  Robert Frost noted how it adds poignance to  the beauties of nature; for half the haunting quality of his snowy wood was the fact that he had “miles to go” before he slept.  Sometimes it is also a practical problem.

DAYHIKER’S DILEMMA

Sonnet XLVIII

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Free from the load of tent and sleeping bag,

You pay by being more a slave to time.

Measure it by watch or sun, the snag

Is there, though slopes are easier to climb.

It is the time you have to turn around

To make it back to camp or car by night.

It is a law inexorable, profound,

And it will win (though not without a fight!).

It’s best to set a time that has some play;

You cannot go but what you feel the spell.

The hidden barrier that bars your way

Asks to be pushed a bit, e’er it can quell

The voice that calls you on.  It has no end,

The lure of what lies just around the bend.

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C. S. Lewis noted that man’s uncomfortable relationship to time marks him as made for a larger world—do fish constantly manifest surprise at how wet water is, like we do about how time has passed? Yet without time there could be no movement, and hence no quest. I still want to know what lies around the bend—including the last Bend past which no man can see in this life.  Time will tell.

Donald T. Williams, PhD

Remember: for more poetry like this, go to https://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.  And look for Williams’ very latest book, Deeper Magic: The Theology behind the Writings of C. S. Lewis, due out Sept. 1, 2016, from Square Halo Books!

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