CXXIII

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 Seven Deadly Sins are a traditional analysis of sin.  There is no such list in Scripture, but the basic idea is surely Scriptural.  These are the root motivations from which specific acts of sin flow.  They are ranked in a hierarchy with Pride as the worst, because it is the one that most effectively separates us from God by making us wholly self referential (incurvatus in se, as Augustine put it) and thus wholly inimical to His unmerited favor, His grace.  There is a lot of insight here, enough to make this medieval schema worth playing with in a modern setting.

 

Advice for Parents,

Or, The Seven Deadlies Revisited

 

Behold Mankind, the noble creature,

Like a god in every feature:

No sooner born than he begins

To seek the Seven Deadly Sins

(And others too, without a label,

He does as soon as he is able).

Pride

Pride

First comes PRIDE, the subtle foe

Which first begins this tale of woe.

Before the baby leaves his crib

Or even learns to wear a bib,

He makes his parents stoop and bow

And serve his every whim right now!

Bring the bottle or the breast,

Do not take our time for rest.

Rock him ’til he falls asleep

Or a vigil he will keep.

If ever they fall in arrears,

He’ll avenge himself with tears.

He knows himself to be no worse

Than Center of the Universe,

Until his elders finally

Remember that they and not he

Are in control (for they are bigger).

This knowledge causes them to snigger,

And then a Schedule to enforce.

The baby yells until he’s hoarse,

But only thus he learns to live

Somewhere between Take and Give.

Envy

Envy

ENVY next we have to mention,

For it is Pride’s first invention

When it has to deal with things

That time inevitably brings.

When the family’s escalated,

Things become more complicated:

Siblings come into his life

With new occasions for strife.

Whatever toy his sib desires,

To that one he himself aspires,

And that alone.  No other one

Will do, could possibly be fun.

(That is, of course, until his brother

Decides himself to want another.)

‘Til Envying what another hath

Inevitably leads to WRATH.

Wrath

Wrath

The toy not yielded, in despite,

There now proceeds a screaming fight,

That certain high-pitched, piercing whine

Which means, “You give that back–it’s mine!”

A sound that every parent learns

To recognize.  When Envy burns

It gives off flames of Wrath, and this

Also:  the smoke of AVARICE.

Avarice

Avarice

Never let your children see

The toy commercials on TV.

The more it costs, the more they’ll cry

That that’s the one you have to buy

(Also the easier it breaks

And more assemblage that it takes)

‘Cause everybody else has one,

And he alone never has any fun.

(Of course the toy box is already

Fuller than the wallet of J. Paul Ghetty

With good toys that they never use.)

So only let them watch the News!

Now, ever since old Adam’s curse,

Things have gone from bad to worse.

Gluttony

Gluttony

Continue to observe this child,

Like a lamb so meek and mild:

During meals he seems a monk;

There is no place in all his trunk

For veggies or for casserole.

Starve the body, feed the soul!

Until the pious hermit sees

The Golden Arches through the trees.

French fries and potato chips

Slip so easily past his lips;

Candy, cakes, and pies withal

(As long as not one mineral

Or protein or a vitamin

Ever is allowed within).

Such is the sin of GLUTTONY

In a skinny tot of three.

Sloth

Sloth

Well, ever since old Adam’s curse,

Things have gone from bad to worse.

Show me a Mom who has not said,

“Get in there and make your bed!

Pick you clothes up off the floor

So someone can get through the door!”

Now, he can run ten miles a day,

Lift weights, ride bikes, and swim, and play

At football.  But go cut the grass?

You don’t know what it is you ask!

To any such thing he is loathe:

He has learned the sin of SLOTH.

But e’er we reach the worst despair,

There shimmers in the chilling air

Perhaps the slightest sigh of hope:

“Maybe yet I still can cope.

So far, only six I see–

From one at least he will be free!”

Lechery

Lechery

Well, I don’t like to see you frown,

But I will have to let you down:

Ever since old Adam’s curse,

Things have gone from bad to worse.

His body is not made of wood;

He’d be LECHEROUS if he could!

Let him grow a few more years;

He will justify your fears,

And you will long for days of yore

With merely tantrums on the floor

To trouble your tranquility.

 

And if you ask, “How can this be?”

If you ask me, in a fit,

“Why then do we put up with it?”

My answer is a question too:

“Why does God put up with you?”

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.

Donald T. Williams, PhD

Stars Through the Clouds

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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 September 14, 2015, in Donald Williams, Poetry, Theology and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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