Blog Archives

CLXXXVIII

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 last line of the sonnet from last week was too good to be used just once, so naturally I made it one of the repeater lines of a villanelle.

 

THE PARADOX

The irony: the angels came to sing

To shepherds, while the scribes slept through the night

Condemned, and incognito came the king.

The Magi came from far away to bring

Gold, frankincense, and myrrh, and learn by sight

The irony the angels came to sing.

Herod found no humor in the thing,

And Joseph woke from sleep to sudden flight,

Condemned and incognito, from the king.

Mary found it food for pondering,

And often in her heart she would recite

The irony the angels came to sing.

But there would be no final reckoning

Of what it meant, ‘til up Golgotha’s height,

Condemned and incognito, came the king.

And now it’s left for us by faith to cling

To him whose empty tomb brought full to light

The irony the angels came to sing:

Condemned and incognito came the King.

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.  And look for Williams’ very latest book, Deeper Magic: The Theology behind the Writings of C. S. Lewis, from Square Halo Books!

Donald T. Williams, PhD

 

 

CLXXXVII

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.”

Let’s see if we can put ourselves back into the scene of the old story so that its full impact hits us again, despite our familiarity with its details.  Naturally, a Petrarchan Sonnet is just the way to do that.

 

THE IRONY

The shepherds had no word for paradox

(A learned term), but scratching of the head

Was something that they knew, and as they sped

Toward Bethlehem, abandoning their flocks,

And stumbling in their haste upon the rocks,

They did some over what the angel’d said:

Messiah in a manger for a bed?

A king whose courtiers were ass and ox?

 

Perhaps the biggest part of the surprise

Was that they were the ones who should be told:

This savior did not seem to fit the mold

Constructed by the Mighty and the Wise.

To stable smells and angels’ caroling,

Condemned and incognito came the King.

A Cave in Bethlehem, like the one where Jesus was born

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.  And look for Williams’ very latest book, Deeper Magic: The Theology behind the Writings of C. S. Lewis, from Square Halo Books!

Donald T. Williams, PhD

CLXIII

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.”

 Last week we looked at the testimony of humanity to the truth of the Gospel.  This week, in pursuit of corroborating testimony, we shall put the angels on the stand.

MARTYRES

 On the evidence of two or three witnesses every matter shall be confirmed (Deut. 19:15b).

II

Angelos

Painting-annunciation-Anon

 

 And suddenly an angel of the Lord stood before them and the glory of the Lord shone round about them, and they were sore afraid.  And the angel said unto them, “Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which shall be to all people.  For unto you this day in the City of David is born a Savior, who is Christ, the Lord.  And this shall be a sign unto you:  you will find the baby wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger.  And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly hosts, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth, peace, good will toward men” (Luke 2:9-14).

It was revealed to [the prophets] that they were not serving themselves, but you, in these things which now have been announced to you through those who preached the Gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven—things into which angels long to look (1 Pet. 1:12).

ChAllNations10

We were the first of all His thoughts to live

And know ourselves as living in His Mind,

And that was all the world we’d ever known.

Pure thought He made us, and to each would give

Great visions of rare creatures he’d designed.

The strangest?  Thought conjoined with flesh and bone.

 

We took it as a kind of abstract game,

An intellectual and eternal dance.

Imagine then our wonder and delight

When He spoke, and the whole expanding frame

Of space unfolded ‘round us, and, entranced,

We saw the ideas made and loved the sight!

"And God saw that it was good."

“And God saw that it was good.”

Then, more than that, He gave us jobs to do

And, as we shared His thoughts, we shared His work:

To form our dance of ideas into things.

As swift as thought at His behest we flew,

Taking the light He’d made into the mirk

Of space and time, the light itself our wings.

 

Not all of us together knew it all.

According to our stature He would share

With each some insight, but the larger plan

Remained a source of wonder.  Still, one small

World of all we made was our chief care,

For there He made His masterpiece:  the Man.

AdamNaming1

Though we were pure intelligence, we caught

So little of the grandeur of His Mind!

He’d brought forth thought in us; we’d seen Him bring

Forth space-time filled with things beyond our thought;

But we thought nothing that He did outshined

His strange idea of Man, a thinking thing.

 

But then the whole plan seemed to go awry.

Our brother Lucifer loved the mastery

Of things more than he did the One who gave

It to us, and his thought became a lie.

And then, when Adam joined him at the Tree,

Our joy fell into dust, into the grave.

Painting-Annunciation-FraAngelico

We thought it was the end, but we were wrong,

For then, the greatest marvel!  How we long

To look into it still—we raced to sing

The “Gloria!”—if we’d thought the strangest thing

Was thinking flesh, then what else could we say

About that Baby lying in the hay?

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.  And look for Williams’ very latest book, Deeper Magic: The Theology behind the Writings of C. S. Lewis, due out Sept. 30, 2016, from Square Halo Books! 

Donald T. Williams, PhD

Book-CSLTheology-Cover

CLXII

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 pretty ambitious, so I’m going to give it to you over two weeks.  It’s based on the legal provision of Deut. 19:15:  “A single witness shall not rise up against a man on account of any iniquity or any sin which he has committed; on the evidence of two or three witnesses a matter shall be confirmed.”  Requiring corroboration is the path of intellectual virtue in apologetics as well as in law.  We have multiple pairs of witnesses to the truth of the Gospel:  Nature and Scripture, the Prophets and the Apostles, etc.  But I chose to go with another pair:  humankind and angels.  What if mankind remembered its collective experience of God’s progressive revelation of himself throughout its history?  That is the first witness, which we put on the stand this week:

MARTYRES

On the evidence of two or three witnesses every matter shall be confirmed (Deut. 19:15b). 

I

Anthropos 

And yet He did not leave Himself without witness, in that He did good and gave you rains from heaven and fruitful seasons, satisfying your hearts with food and gladness (Acts 14:17).

Therefore, having overlooked the times of ignorance, God is now declaring to men that all everywhere should repent because He has fixed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness through a Man whom He has appointed, having furnished proof to all men by raising Him from the dead  (Acts 17:30-31).

ResurrectionJesus-998x665

We sensed that there was something.  In the sky

It somehow seemed to be, or in the wind—

A Voice, a subtle message in the dew,

Something in our hearts that would not lie

Quiet when we knew that we had sinned.

(How did we know that it was sin?  We knew.)

 

Something.  Power hidden in the earth

To push the blades and buds up in the spring.

At first we gave each face of it a name;

So sky and field and river each gave birth

To its own god, and men began to bring

The blood they shed to cover up their shame.

Portrait-Abraham5

And they did right, though they did not know why

Until the Voice called out to Abraham

To leave his father for an unknown land.

A cave for burial he had to buy,

A mountain-thicket where he found a ram,

Sore feet, the burning sun, and blowing sand,

 

More mysteries than answers he could learn,

A son to whom he could bequeath the trial,

An oath, but not one acre he could claim

Were all that wanderer got in return—

Plus one thing more that made it all worthwhile:

He saw through all that flickers to the Flame.

Portrait-Abraham1

And so his seed would bear the message, “Hear

Oh Israel, the Lord your God is One!”

And camp at Sinai when the Flame came down.

Though all too easily the holy fear

Engendered by the way they had begun

Was lost, at least they got their piece of ground.

 

And there they stayed, and there they read the Law,

And studied, and debated every word,

And kept alive at least some memory

Of who they were and what their fathers saw.

But what the Flame had shown, the smoke had blurred,

And most of them would finally fail to see

 

The Thing they’d waited for through all those years,

The Something we had groped for in our fears.

The hopes, the blood, the altars—who’d have guessed

That this would be the answer to our quest?

The smoke of Sinai slowly cleared away

To show a Baby lying in the hay.

BethlehemStar2

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.  And look for Williams’ very latest book, Deeper Magic: The Theology behind the Writings of C. S. Lewis, due out Sept. 30, 2016, from Square Halo Books! 

Donald T. Williams, PhD

Book-CSLTheology-Cover

CXLV

 

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.”

People who have passed on to the next world make their absence felt in many ways.  Here is one I wasn’t expecting until I couldn’t miss it.

 

NELLE FERGUSON, # 2

There’s something missing when the people sing.

It was the kind of voice that doesn’t blend

Too well with others going through the motions.

But when the old hymns started her devotions,

Then she would gather all her joy and fling

It forth, not caring if she bucked the trend.

(She learned her piety back in the old-

Time Wesleyan camp meetings, I am told.)

The angels must have looked up with a start

To hear it blend with their celestial art:

If I know anything, I know that Nelle

Went into Heaven with a “shoutin’ spell.”

Camp Meeting

Camp Meeting

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