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 next poem is reminiscent of Cassandra’s epistle from a few entries ago. It differs in that this voice comes from the present, not Cassandra’s mythic past. But it encounters the same problems, inherent in human nature since the Fall of Adam.
I have walked the streets of cities and towns, and seen
The empty eyes disguised by endless laughter,
The blanker stares of men intent on business,
And over all the neon wash that drowns
The clean if scanty light of the evening sky,
And a Voice said, “Cry!”
And I though, “What shall I cry?”
And so I read the lines of morning papers
And saw the cold statistics stacked in piles
Like countless bodies of aborted children
On the altars of the goddess Promiscuity,
And the Voice said, “Cry!”
I listened to the sages of the people
On blaring, omnipresent radios,
And also read the words of learned poets,
And they said,
“The frenzied freedom of the one-night stand
Is better than the faithful bonds of marriage,
And by all means don’t get tied down with children.
If you feel that something’s good, it is,
As long as it’s not violent. Nobody
Is wise enough to tell you how to live,
And tolerance is the only virtue left,
And the only thing that’s real’s the present moment.”
And the Voice said, “Cry!”
I turned and to listen to the saints and preachers,
And they proclaimed that Man is very good
And has a spark of godhood deep within him.
And if somehow we just can fan that flame
With Education and Encounter Groups
And teach him to get over all his hang-ups
And to engage in honest self-expression,
The Evolution, Social Change, and Progress
Will make the world a place of peace and beauty.
But the Voice said, “Cry!”
And I said, “What shall I cry?
What word to heal the pain, explain the ‘Why?’
What new solution we have yet to try,
What new direction for the race we run?”
And the Voice said, “None.
You are to tell them that they have to die.
Tell them they cannot walk unless their feet are on the ground
Or know the Truth without rejecting lies.
Say there is no freedom to be found
In throwing away all ties.
Say that we must choose our metaphors
(And mix them) carefully, if we would see
The signs above the doors
And take the right road to eternity.”
That road is harder for the man who thinks that he is rich;
The blind inevitably lead the blind into the ditch.
The ditch is deep (it splits the world asunder)
And wider than the space between the stars;
And there it waits for man the way the lightning waits for thunder,
Or wounded flesh for scars.
Remember: for more poetry like this, go to https://lanternhollow.wordpress.com/store/ 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.
Donald T. Williams, PhD