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 1976-77.  I have graduated from seminary with a Masters of Divinity degree and am now pursuing my PhD in Medieval and Renaissance Literature at the University of Georgia, where I will transition from sneaking off to read Dante, Chaucer, Spenser, Shakespeare, and Milton when I was supposed to be studying theology to sneaking off to read Aquinas, Luther, Calvin, and Hodge when I was supposed to be studying literature.  I cannot think of a better approach to education.  But first there is a transitional summer job, which produced the following:

JOHN 1:14


Sweet to the nose, but rough to the hands, the pine

Boards must be sawed just so and stacked in line

(Not resting, lest they warp, upon the ground),

Until their turn has come to be nailed down

With all their fellows, framing floor or wall.

Here will be the kitchen, there the hall,

And here a bedroom with its bath, and there

A porch on which to breathe the summer air,

All laced with starlight when the night is warm,

And wonder if the distant thunder storm

Or one of its wild kin will come and pay

A boisterous visit e’er the break of day.

But that is weeks off yet.  For now, the wide-

Spaced workmen must be all kept well supplied

With lumber, hauled up from the pre-sawed stack

By means of someone’s hands and someone’s back.

When palms grow tender, fingers stiff, back sore,

The job has just begun.  You carry more.

And so the summer passed.  I often stopped

At close of day when the last load was dropped

And thought, “In this, I’m not alone:  my Lord’s

Hands also were worn raw by rough pine boards.”

Remember: for more poetry like this, go to https://www.createspace.com/3562314 and order Stars Through the Clouds!  Also look for Reflections from Plato’s Cave, Williams’ newest book from Lantern Hollow Press: Evangelical essays in pursuit of Truth, Goodness, and Beauty.  https://www.createspace.com/3767346.

Donald T. Williams, PhD


About gandalf30598

Theologian, philosopher, poet, and critic; minister of the Gospel who makes his living by teaching medieval and renaissance literature; dual citizen of Narnia and Middle Earth.

Posted on July 19, 2012, in Christianity, Donald Williams, Edmund Spenser, Poetry, Shakespeare, Theology and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. This isn’t the first time I’ve seen Bible commentary in poetic form, but it’s definitely one of my favorites. It reminded me of Genessaret, a song by Anathallo:

    We looked hard;
    I stood on the bottom.

    Calloused tiptoes,
    Splintering wood,

    Break up, come back together. Genessaret.

    I want to skip like a stone from a stronger arm.
    Each one I throw is moving somewhere.

    Oh, let me go.
    I will go out, out, out, out
    Past these yellow ropes.
    I am not afraid.

    They sway there like
    The shredded ones hung
    From my parents’ tree
    Where I pumped my legs
    And I broke into sweat.

    I never saw my face
    In the bird bath mirror,
    Red as blood
    And I was tired.

    For a minute short, there was a wonder.
    A sense after the momentary weird blur,
    In the space of expectancy
    When you wake,
    When you open your eyes.

    When you expect to see the same thing that
    You’ve seen. First, the ceiling:
    Grey from great oak.
    Grey from great oak.
    He’d thrown his net over us.
    (Stringy hands, stained glass)

    And all his sounds, the same today.
    But my body changed.
    Something in the salty sheets
    Was pressing in on me.

    Stuck and stinging, I keep rolling.

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