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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.”

 I was so glad to get back to Georgia after my sojourn in Indiana and Illinois.  I didn’t  so much mind the cold of those winters (OK, I did, sometimes), and I actually enjoyed the snow.  The problem was the way winter refuses to end up there!  When this Georgia boy was ready to see some dogwoods and azaleas blooming, there was still two more months of dreariness to be endured, with nothing green to be seen anywhere!

 

“SPRING” IN THE UPPER MIDWEST

Forty degrees and gray and misting rain,

The sunrise just a lessening of gloom

(You’d hardly call it light) to say that Time

Had not yet wholly failed in its refrain.

Back home the dogwood trees would be in bloom;

Here snowdrifts linger, crusted o’er with grime.

So ends the pure white promise of December:

In April slush and mud it meets its doom–

And we can’t seem to make ourselves remember

Another season or another clime.

We know there once was sunlight; we assume

Somewhere above the clouds, in joy sublime,

It reigns.  But we need faith to fan the embers

Of hope down in this dank and dismal tomb.

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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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 world is not all sweetness and light.  It can be dark and cold, and the cold can be harsh and cruel, especially in the long winters of the upper Midwest.  But the brightest light can cut right through that darkness and be all the sweeter for doing so.  The poet’s job is not to deny the darkness and the harshness, still less to curse them, but to display in concrete images the truth that the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness comprehendeth it not.

 

SONNET XVII

 

The concrete walks were softer than the ground.

The pond was smooth and hard, though scarred by skates.

A few lone futile flakes of snow whirled ‘round

In the iron grip of a wind that howled with hate.

The skaters that had scarred the pond were gone

And rested now, no doubt, by warm hearth fires.

They’d left the wind to prowl the waste alone

And wail of its own alien desires.

At times, through scudding clouds, a star would flame,

Hinting from a height remote and pure

Of longings of its own it could not mane,

Though still the message came, and that was sure.

But once, they say, three Wise Men from afar

Bowed to the Name beneath just such a star.

 

Remember: for more poetry like this, go to https://www.createspace.com/3562314 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.  https://www.createspace.com/3767346.

Donald T. Williams, PhD

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ImageWordsworth 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.”

 

            I do not miss the upper Midwest with its interminable winters and cheated falls and springs.  But I am glad I experienced it because of the poignancy the looming endlessness of winter gave to the brief moments of fall: its beauty came with a certain weight behind it because of the heaviness of what one knew it would inevitably bring.  And that weight adds weight to the biblical petition, “Lord, teach us to number our days, that we may present to thee a heart of wisdom.”

 

FALL, 1974

 

The corn-stalk brown looked almost white

Beside the black limbs of the trees:

A bleak etude in dark and light,

A prelude to the coming night

When endless miles of deep, soft white

Are all the wanderer sees.

 

Remember: for more poetry like this, go to https://www.createspace.com/3562314 and order Stars Through the Clouds!

Donald T. Williams, PhD

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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.” 

            It is good to have experienced Winter as a metaphor for a bleak eternity, as the oppressive and inexorable descent of entropy over the universe at the end of time when all the stars have gone out.  It teaches you that Spring does come after all, that death is not the final word, even as it forces you to take death’s role as the final enemy with full seriousness.  If Spring is the Resurrection, then Fall is this life.  And every cycle of the seasons gives you a new chance to appreciate and try to grasp these metaphors and the mystery they hint at.

NOVEMBER, 1970

I stand on the knife-edge ‘twixt Autumn and Winter

And watch the spent leaves blow.

To remember is to be

And to love, to know—

And so—

The leaves are turned to snow.

VISION

That cloud

And that horizon

And those trees

Arranged in just that way that I now see

Give just the very faintest ray

Of hope that this long Winter may

Indeed, at long, long last, give way

To Spring.

            It is good, I say, to have lived in the upper Midwest and learned such lessons.  It is also good to have come back to the South so that one can remember them in the lingering beauty of a proper Spring or Fall!

Donald T. Williams, PhD

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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 Taylor University, Midwest, feat for a more distracted age: a blog, “Things which a Lifetime of Trying to Be a Poet has Taught Me.”

I loved Taylor University, but I hated the Midwest for its long, never ending winters that cheated spring and fall.  The winters had their own appeal—they weren’t the problem in themselves–but I could not forgive them for their ravenous greed, their selfish devouring of neighboring months to which they had no right, with the near disappearance of the two milder seasons that resulted.  Nevertheless, one gift of that cheating was how poignant the brief beauty of fall became as a result.  And that poignancy could be carried like a wave on the endlessly blowing leaves which roamed the flat landscape on a wind that found nothing to impede its progress, and which could therefore pick those leaves up endlessly, always adding more of them to the inexorable weight of its plunge toward inevitable cold and death.  You can see their headlong gallop in the opening scene of that great basketball movie, “Hoosiers.”

LEAVES

If there were clouds in today’s sky

They would show the speed of the wind

By racing each other eastward,

Ne’er to be seen again.

But the heavens are empty today,

So we’ll have to settle for leaves

In a reckless, cross-country scramble,

Trying to outrun the breeze. 

Donald T. Williams, PhD