CCII

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.”

Jim Kilgo was a professor of American Literature at the University of Georgia when I was doing my doctorate there back in the 1970s.  I never had a class with him, but we bonded as fellow Christians.  We had other reasons too.  I miss that man.

KILGO

We never did get to the woods together.

We’d meet up in his air-conditioned office

From time to time to swap a tale or two.

He’d find a chair beneath a pile of papers

For me, beneath a pile of books for him,

And we’d lament the state of education

And then get on to more important things:

How quiet dawn is in a river swamp,

How sharp the wind blows over Albert’s Mountain,

The steam a plate of grits makes on a table

When frost is on the sedge outside the window,

The best last lines in all of literature

(They must be Izaak Walton’s Life of Donne

And then “The Life and Death of Cousin Lucius”).

We’d quote from C.S. Lewis, Tolkien, Faulkner,

Or Robert Frost, or Flannery O’Connor;

We loved the words that named the things we loved.

We even tried some naming of our own–

He’d read his stories, and I’d read my poems,

Testing lines like newly mounted axe-heads

For balance and a clean and compact stroke:

The different rhythm life has on the trail–

I said, “Three days away from clocks you feel it”;

The trout he caught high in a mountain stream

In pools between the rapids and the falls–

“No gift comes cleaner from the hand of God.”

His book was Deep Enough for Ivorybills.

He meant woodpeckers in a cypress swamp;

I take it and apply it to his soul.

We love the words that name the things we love,

And one among the cleaner strokes is “Jim.”

Photo credit: David Hodges

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, from Square Halo Books!

Donald T. Williams, PhD

CCI

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 my pet projects is to write a complete history of philosophy in limericks.  Why?  Because I can.  But don’t worry, this is only one chapter.

SOME SKETCHES FROM THE HISTORY OF MODERN PHILOSOPHY

Limericks # 20-25

 

If a tree in the forest falls down

When no one with ears is around,

Though it crashes like thunder,

Philosophers wonder

Whether there’s really a sound.

 

Or else, when you exit a room,

Is it logical then to presume

That the Table or Chair

That you left is still there

Until your sensations resume?

Bishop Berkeley

Bishop Berkeley set briskly about

Proving beyond any doubt

That the Table and Chair

Were really still there:

God still saw them when you had gone out!

 

Dr. Johnson kicked stones and said, “Thus

I refute this ridiculous fuss!

They may think I’m dense,

But I’ve got Common Sense.”

He was surely an ornery cuss.

Dr. Samuel Johnson

Do you think we have learned any more

Than our ancestors knew back before?

Now the Chair and the Table

Are only a fable;

The Room has a lock on the door.

 

Deconstruction has buried the key

In the depths of the Post-Modern sea.

So we all stand around

Or we sit on the ground,

And we call it the freedom to be.

 

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, from Square Halo Books!

Donald T. Williams, PhD

CC

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 is what is known as a curtal (or curtailed) sonnet—six and five lines instead the standard of eight and six of the Petrarchan form.  Hopkins used it for “Pied Beauty.”  But I’ve gone one step further and scrunched it some more: trimeter and dimeter instead of iambic pentameter.  One hopes that from compression comes power.  Let’s see.

DESTINY

(Commentary, Eph. 1:3, etc.)

 

As basic as breath,

As lucid as love,

A lyrical light;

Despoiler of Death,

He derives from the Dove

Celebration of sight.

 

The grain in the board,

The hand in the glove,

The star in the night:

The saint in the Lord

Shining bright.

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, from Square Halo Books!

Donald T. Williams, PhD

CLXXXXIX

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 was a challenge I set myself: to see how long I could keep this pattern of internal rhyme going while telling a story worth hearing.  Did I pass the test?  One way to find out:

THE KING’S MARINERS

The wind was fair, the ship was yare,

The crew was skilled and bold.

Exotic wares and spices rare

Were bursting from the hold.

They gave the slip to pirate ships

And sailed on seas untold;

The prow did dip, the yards did drip,

And still the ocean rolled.

The wind doth rise, the captain cries,

The crew doth furl the sail;

The wind, it dies; the captain sighs,

The crew grows wan and pale.

And then the wind starts up again;

The sailors’ hearts do quail–

The boards do bend, the thunder dins:

She rides before the gale.

 

Six nights and days the sky did blaze,

The spray did chill the bone;

Through mist and haze, uncharted ways

The fleeing ship was blown.

Six days and nights the storm afrights,

The crew doth strain and groan

‘Til from the heights the lookout sights

A shore no man has known.

 

The seventh day the sun’s bright ray

At long last shines again.

Rejoicing, they behold a bay;

The helmsman steers them in.

The vessel stops, the anchor drops,

The harbor they do win.

Their brows they mop ‘neath mountain tops

Where man has never been.

They break their fast, repair the mast,

The hunstmen go ashore.

The stormy blast through which they passed,

They think on it no more,

But of the land which lies at hand

And begs to be explored.

And so they stand upon the sand;

They hunt the deer and boar.

 

From west to east they chase the beasts

Through forests thick with fern.

From great to least, they share the feast;

They feel their strength return.

And now desire burns like fire

And every heart doth yearn

To climb up higher, mount the spire,

Secrets strange to learn.

 

When they had been a mile or ten

In silence wandering,

They came within a hidden glen

And found a wondrous thing.

Upon a green they saw fourteen

Maids dancing in a ring;

And they had seen the faerie queen,

And sweetly did she sing.

To ask how long the elven song

Was heard?  No one could tell:

The dancers hung their notes among

The stars like silver bells.

The mariners hark while skies grow dark,

The notes, they rise and swell.

And then they mark the morning lark,

Unbroken still the spell.

 

Full still they kept, ’til one man stepped

Out bold to join the ring:

The dancers leapt, the sailors wept;

It was a grievous thing.

The vision flies, the tune, it dies,

No more the dancers sing.

The queen, she cries; before their eyes,

The elves are vanishing.

 

They tramped around the island’s bounds

To hear that song again,

But no more found that magic sound,

Too pure for mortal men.

They hoist the sail, they say farewell;

Thoughts turn to home and kin.

And yet they wail to leave that dale

They saw the dancers in.

For many a week they hardly speak,

Each thinks his thoughts alone.

The sky is bleak, the wind doth shriek,

And chill them to the bone.

But wisdom now sits on each brow;

They know what they have known!

The helm knows how to turn the prow;

The vessel sails for home.

 

The wind was fair, the ship was yare,

The crew was skilled and bold.

Exotic wares and spices rare

Were bursting from the hold.

They gave the slip to pirate ships,

And came from seas untold;

The prow did dip, the yards did drip,

And still the ocean rolled.

 

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, from Square Halo Books!

Donald T. Williams, PhD

CLXXXXVIII

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 biggest group of Jesus’ twelve disciples were professional fishermen before they signed up to follow Him.  Professional fishermen.  They knew the way storms and waves behaved on the Sea of Galilee.  They knew whether or not the fish were biting.  (OK, technically that’s not the right phrase because they were using nets—but you get the idea.)  They knew the Man they were dealing with was not just another lay rabbi.  That is one reason why we can still trust their testimony today.

THE PROFESSIONALS

(Commentary, Luke 5:5)

“We’ve toiled all night and caught no fish as yet;

Our eyes are drooping and our muscles ache.

But at your bidding, we’ll let down the net.”

(Though, just ‘twixt you and me, I doubt we’ll get

A single tug at this end of the lake.

We’ve toiled all night and caught no fish as yet.)

“A better preacher we have never met,

But teaching us to fish?  That takes the cake!

Still, at your bidding we’ll let down the net.”

(I don’t know why we’re doing this.  I’ll bet

He’s never fought this hard to stay awake.

We’ve toiled all night and caught no fish as yet.)

And yet, somehow I don’t think we’ll regret

Obeying him, though seaweed’s all we’ll take.

So, “At your bidding we’ll let down the net.”

Then, without warning, every line was set

So taut we were afraid the line would break:

We’d toiled all night and caught no fish as yet,

But, at his bidding, we let down the net.

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, from Square Halo Books!

Donald T. Williams, PhD