LXII

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 return after many digressions to our default setting, the Poetry blog, dropping back into that timeline in the year 1976-77, my first year as a doctoral student at the University of Georgia.

Stars Through the Clouds

The greatest poetry collection of the 21st century

This is in some ways my most ambitious mini sonnet sequence yet—only three sonnets, but they are packed with theological and metaphysical content.  I think I must have been studying the English metaphysical poets about this time: Done, Herbert, Vaughan.  I try to capture some of their compact richness and profundity, but adjusted for a more modern sensibility, or at least set of questions, so that it does not become a mere pastiche.  See how well you think I succeeded.

THE WORD

Sonnets XXIII-XXV

Epigraph

And the light shone in darkness and

Against the Word the unstilled world still whirled

About the center of the silent Word.

T. S. Eliot, “Ash Wednesday”

I

The void gulped down, but could not hold, the Word.

The formless dark was shattered in a bright

Explosion, flinging out across the night

A dancing host.  As in a flock, each bird,

In answer to the music that is heard,

Wheels in unison across the height

Of heaven, one. Though many, in their flight,

Around the central Singer stars now whirred,

Giving voice to the unspoken Name

That held them with strong bonds of pure desire,

Burning with reflected, holy flame,

They showed forth the unseen, sustaining Fire.

And still they sing.  The Center which surrounds

All circles still supplies their burning sounds.

It's not a star, but it's a pretty cool photo!

It’s not a star, but it’s a pretty cool photo!

II

His life lit up the world while yet the sun

Was but an idea in her Maker’s mind.

Yet Lucifer the mighty looked upon

His glory greedily and was struck blind,

Inventing darkness of a different kind

From what had been before.  ‘Til then, the night

Had been left to contrast with that which shined,

In pleasant patters setting off the light

Which lit each angel’s eyes and gave him sight.

But now, light twisted into what was not,

Swirled in perverse patterns, moved by spite,

Was proclaimed as new vision in a plot

To unseat God himself.  The flaming Word

Could not be quenched, but seeing eyes were blurred

III

And self-willed pits of sightless blackness yawned

Inside the minds of some.  They screamed and fell

Into themselves, pursuing a light that dawned

Outside the Son—but all they found was Hell:

The self, clenched shut against the light, a shell

Of utter loneliness where once had burned

The singing Fire, the holy Flame, the Well

Of light reflected each to each, returned

To Him who gave, received again, unearned,

The gift: light which was love, love which was life.

All this was what the falling angels spurned

Because it was not of themselves.  The strife

Which they began comes back to haunt mankind,

Which, likewise, seeking Sonless light, is blind.

Dante-Satan

Dante’s Satan, by Blake

Epilog

The Word in unchanged harmony still burns

At the world’s heart.  Around it slowly turns

A universe of self-inflicted pain.

Against our orbits, futilely, we strain

In grinding discord.  For the blind depraved

There’s no escape but to be damned or saved.

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’ newer book from Lantern Hollow Press: Evangelical essays in pursuit of Truth, Goodness, and Beauty.  https://www.createspace.com/3767346.

Donald T. Williams, PhD

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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 February 18, 2013, in Donald Williams, Poetry, Theology and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Excellent! Amazing poem! Loved it! keep it up

  2. It is always nice to come across this classic yet humble form and to feel familiarity rushing back. Wonderful choices in lyrics and phraseology generate intensity in this weighty subject. I enjoyed reading each one. Very well done.

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