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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.”

This poem is what is known as a curtal (or curtailed) sonnet—six and five lines instead the standard of eight and six of the Petrarchan form.  Hopkins used it for “Pied Beauty.”  But I’ve gone one step further and scrunched it some more: trimeter and dimeter instead of iambic pentameter.  One hopes that from compression comes power.  Let’s see.

DESTINY

(Commentary, Eph. 1:3, etc.)

 

As basic as breath,

As lucid as love,

A lyrical light;

Despoiler of Death,

He derives from the Dove

Celebration of sight.

 

The grain in the board,

The hand in the glove,

The star in the night:

The saint in the Lord

Shining bright.

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

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CLXXXXVII

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 talk about the aching beauty of Nature.  Sometimes, it’s not a metaphor.

LAMENT

The mole was dead upon the ground;

He did not move when he was poked.

His coat was sleek, his body round,

His life revoked.

 

His parts seemed not to coincide:

His hands were stuck on at the wrist;

He was long-nosed and squinty-eyed,

A humorist.

 

He looked too healthy to be dead;

His feet were white, his face was droll,

But he was tragic dust instead

Of comic mole.

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

CXLIV

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.”

Nothing keeps the pastor in touch with reality, indeed, rubs his nose in it, like death.  Ministry to the dying and the bereaved keeps us pastors from hiding from the Last Enemy as efficiently as most of our contemporaries.  And that gives us the opportunity to find out how far we really believe the Faith, how real our own faith really is.  I found it affirmed by the experience—but the victory never came without a battle.  Nelle slipped slowly away as she lost her battle with cancer.

No illustration this week.  I don’t have a picture of Nelle, and what she awoke to is not picturable.  Just the words: If they are true, they are enough.

 

FOR NELLE FERGUSON

Throughout the week we’d watched her slip away.

The words lost focus first, and then the eyes;

The ending, when it came, was no surprise.

(The eyes refocused on a brighter day

While we still wrestled with our long good-byes.)

We’d faced it honestly; there were no lies.

Among the last words I was sure she heard,

I read her favorite Psalm:  the Twenty-Third.

(The words refocused on a brighter day:

No evil feared—the Shadow past—the Prize!)

 

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

CXXIX

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.”

Memento Mori

Memento Mori

The ancients often kept a memento mori (“reminder of death”) on their desks in the form of a human skull.  Donne had his portrait painted in his funeral shroud.  It may seem macabre to us, but it was no more unhealthy than our modern forms of denial, and maybe less.  The message was, of course, “Get thee to my lady’s chamber.  Tell her, let her paint an inch thick, to this favor shall she come.”  Hamlet—and Yorick—were right of course.  But even if we do not have our own Yorick sitting on our desk, Nature will provide us with her own reminders.

Donne in his Shroud

Donne in his Shroud

Jogging, Sunrise, Milford Church Road and Austell Road,

March 28, 1984

 

Dog, Possum;  near, far:

What swift destiny or star

Left the two of you where you are?

Dog, possum;  kin, strange:

Night, road, car—change.

Soon bereft of all your range.

Collie

Collie:  silky, golden tress,

Hand invited to caress,

Vision still of loveliness;

Face full of loyal trust.

Possum:  tattered, ratty dress,

Alien eyes, expressionless;

Both now only empty crust.

Seasons come and seasons go.

Though the process will be slow

(Scaling, flake by flake, or rust),

Rain, sun, the status quo:

Both in winds of Fall will blow

Indiscriminately dust.

Possum

Possum, dog; strange, kin:

Could such a small break in the skin

Let the creeping chaos in?

Possum, dog;  far, near:

Fate was quirky, Fortune queer

To toss you two together here.

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.

A book that fights back against the encroaching darkness.

A book that fights back against the encroaching darkness.

Meditations with C. S. Lewis: Further up and further in!

This month LHP is highlighting some of our readers’ favorite previous posts from our authors.  We hope you enjoy them!

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C. S. Lewis, best known as the author of The Chronicles of Narnia, was also one of the most profound thinkers of twentieth century Christianity.  Along with J. R. R. Tolkien, he has inspired millions of people, include all of the authors at Lantern Hollow Press.  On Sundays we would like to take a moment to offer up a little Lewis for your consideration.

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I have come home at last! This is my real country! I belong here. This is the land I have been looking for all my life, though I never knew it till now…Come further up, come further in!
–Jewel the Unicorn, The Last Battle

It is amazing how much of the human experience (and the promise of Christianity) is summed up in these few words.  It encapsulates both the finite, mortal nature of humanity, and it screams out the promise offered to those to whom Christ will one day say, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”

To nearly everyone who has taken the time to think about it, the experience of life is summed up by constant motion and perpetual change.  As each moment fades imperceptibly into the next, we learn that nothing remains the same for long.  Bound by the law of entropy as surely as the smallest particle of physical reality, our lives can go only one of two directions:  forward or backward.  We either grow and blossom into something new and different or we degenerate into wasted potential.  In it’s ideal form, the Christian life is a perfect picture of this.  There are always new trails to explore, new knowledge to acquire, new experiences to have, and each is unique from the last.

The problem is that everything in the universe tends toward decay.  In fact, we have to pursue constant and intentional forward motion to prevent it.  The older I get, the more apparent this becomes as my body slows down and begins the tiring process of degeneration.  It is also clear in the lives of anyone who, for one reason for another, cannot or does not attempt to better themselves.  To stand still is the surest way to see ourselves slump into sloth, destitution, disease, and want.

Worse, we are born into a reality where this is a losing battle from the very beginning.  From the moment our first cries echo through a harsh, cold world, we are living on borrowed time.  When we are young, we tend not to notice, but as we age the truth becomes inescapable; we say with Frodo (though for very different reasons), “Will I ever look down into that valley again?”  Will I ever hold my loved one in my arms again?  Will this be the last time I cuddle on the couch with my child before she is “too old” for that sort of thing?  How much longer can I perform at this level?  The end, of course, comes eventually.  We die, our bodies broken and wracked with pain, our treasured experiences spent, and the world moves on without us giving hardly a blink.

And that leads us to one of the truly amazing promises upon which Christians stand:  Our story, short as it is, is not over with death.  We will be translated into a new world that has no end.  There will be time to truly understand, to experience, to love, to build, to create…and we will do so basking in the light of the One “by whom all things were made” and the One who loves us enough that He suffered and died to ensure that we have the chance to experience mortal life and what lies beyond it.

Further up and further in, indeed!

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Click here for the entire run of “Meditations with C. S. Lewis” so far.