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 1978-79, the third year of my classwork for the PhD in English at the University of Georgia.  My apprenticeship to the great Poets of the past was proceeding apace, in other words.  And I was fortunate to have as one of my closest friends Ted Georgian, a man working on his doctorate in ecology who shared my love of the mountains and of hiking.  So manner and matter were both being richly supplied.  The manner this time was the Pearl stanza, used only once before to my knowledge, in a medieval poem by a contemporary of Chaucer; the matter was the same water cycle I celebrated in the previous entry.  The combination was, I hope, more profound but no less playful.

Snow is one phase of the water cycle--here seen on Mount Currahee.

Snow is one phase of the water cycle–here seen on Mount Currahee.

A String of Pearls

The light lit on the light leaves, lost

All its momentum there, and made

A curious transition, crossed

Into the softer light of shade.

The leaves, new light shed on them, glossed

With new significances, played

A game of wit and lightly tossed

Off puns and paradoxes, prayed

The wind to answer.  She obeyed

And joined her most light-hearted voice:

Thus air-light leaves in serenade

May teach the spirit to rejoice.

"Air-light leaves in serenade":  Caras Galadon is a good place to hear them.

“Air-light leaves in serenade”: Caras Galadon is a good place to hear them.

The soul also rejoices when

The growling thunderstorm comes near

To scare away the heat that’s been

Clogging up the atmosphere.

The subtle intensity within

That’s not, but is akin to, fear

Is suddenly shattered by the din

That lets you know the thing is here.

With washing rain and lightning clear

The storm is sent; it has no choice

But to go on its wild career

And teach the spirit to rejoice.

"The growling thunderstorm comes near . . ."

“The growling thunderstorm comes near . . .”

Likewise the joyful mountain stream,

Hearing the voices of the leaves

And wind and rain and lightning, teams

Them all together; whence she weaves

One flowing tapestry which seems

A richer thing than man conceives

In sleep or in his waking dreams.

Beneath enchanted forest eaves

He hears it, and almost believes

It is a nymph’s or naiad’s voice.

It soothes, stings deep, enriches, grieves,

And makes the spirit to rejoice.

"Beneath enchanted forest eaves . . ."

“Beneath enchanted forest eaves . . .”

Rejoicing in the verbal skills

Displayed by her melodic strains,

The stream leaps lightly down the hills,

Spending all the speed she gains

In song and laughter, as she spills

Herself toward the coastal plains.

Gradually then her song she stills:

A stately current which contains

The echoes of a thousand rains,

She bows before a greater voice,

Flows all into it, yet retains

Her own full spirit to rejoice.

"A stately current which contains / The echo of a thousand rains . . ."

“A stately current which contains / The echo of a thousand rains . . .”

Rejoicing in the gift, the sea

Receives her homage and returns

The voices to the air, and we

Hear once again the song that burns

In Nature’s heart.  Wild and free,

Our own blood answers it and yearns

To fly with the light wind and see

The water’s path as it returns

To light on mountain leaves and ferns

And once more in the streams to voice

The song, where air-light-leaf-rain learns

To teach the spirit to rejoice.

And finally to the sea . . .

And finally to the sea . . .

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.

Reflections-Front Cover-2013-4-29


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 October 28, 2013, in Donald Williams, Poetry and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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