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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 was a challenge I set myself: to see how long I could keep this pattern of internal rhyme going while telling a story worth hearing.  Did I pass the test?  One way to find out:

THE KING’S MARINERS

The wind was fair, the ship was yare,

The crew was skilled and bold.

Exotic wares and spices rare

Were bursting from the hold.

They gave the slip to pirate ships

And sailed on seas untold;

The prow did dip, the yards did drip,

And still the ocean rolled.

The wind doth rise, the captain cries,

The crew doth furl the sail;

The wind, it dies; the captain sighs,

The crew grows wan and pale.

And then the wind starts up again;

The sailors’ hearts do quail–

The boards do bend, the thunder dins:

She rides before the gale.

 

Six nights and days the sky did blaze,

The spray did chill the bone;

Through mist and haze, uncharted ways

The fleeing ship was blown.

Six days and nights the storm afrights,

The crew doth strain and groan

‘Til from the heights the lookout sights

A shore no man has known.

 

The seventh day the sun’s bright ray

At long last shines again.

Rejoicing, they behold a bay;

The helmsman steers them in.

The vessel stops, the anchor drops,

The harbor they do win.

Their brows they mop ‘neath mountain tops

Where man has never been.

They break their fast, repair the mast,

The hunstmen go ashore.

The stormy blast through which they passed,

They think on it no more,

But of the land which lies at hand

And begs to be explored.

And so they stand upon the sand;

They hunt the deer and boar.

 

From west to east they chase the beasts

Through forests thick with fern.

From great to least, they share the feast;

They feel their strength return.

And now desire burns like fire

And every heart doth yearn

To climb up higher, mount the spire,

Secrets strange to learn.

 

When they had been a mile or ten

In silence wandering,

They came within a hidden glen

And found a wondrous thing.

Upon a green they saw fourteen

Maids dancing in a ring;

And they had seen the faerie queen,

And sweetly did she sing.

To ask how long the elven song

Was heard?  No one could tell:

The dancers hung their notes among

The stars like silver bells.

The mariners hark while skies grow dark,

The notes, they rise and swell.

And then they mark the morning lark,

Unbroken still the spell.

 

Full still they kept, ’til one man stepped

Out bold to join the ring:

The dancers leapt, the sailors wept;

It was a grievous thing.

The vision flies, the tune, it dies,

No more the dancers sing.

The queen, she cries; before their eyes,

The elves are vanishing.

 

They tramped around the island’s bounds

To hear that song again,

But no more found that magic sound,

Too pure for mortal men.

They hoist the sail, they say farewell;

Thoughts turn to home and kin.

And yet they wail to leave that dale

They saw the dancers in.

For many a week they hardly speak,

Each thinks his thoughts alone.

The sky is bleak, the wind doth shriek,

And chill them to the bone.

But wisdom now sits on each brow;

They know what they have known!

The helm knows how to turn the prow;

The vessel sails for home.

 

The wind was fair, the ship was yare,

The crew was skilled and bold.

Exotic wares and spices rare

Were bursting from the hold.

They gave the slip to pirate ships,

And came from seas untold;

The prow did dip, the yards did drip,

And still the ocean rolled.

 

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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