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CCX

 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.”

ACCURACY

It is not blue, no matter what they say.

The basic livery, though trimmed in white,

Is equal parts of brown and green and gray.

You might believe it of a winter’s day,

But even in the warmest summer light,

It is not blue, no matter what they say.

Shades of blue?  The Mediterranean may;

The cold Atlantic offers us a sight

Of equal parts of brown and green and gray.

A hunting pelican plunges in the spray;

The seagull soars and calls out in his flight,

“It is not blue, not matter what they say.”

Near the breakers laughing children play,

Erecting castles walled against the might

Of equal parts of brown and green and gray.

The Poet too pursues it his own way—

To see and think and try to get it right:

It is not blue, no matter what they say,

But equal parts of brown and green and gray.

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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CXXXI

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.”

They say that the Italian sonnet should rise and break like an ocean wave, so I suppose it makes an appropriate form for this poem.  The waves and the shell in question were on the beach of St. Simons Island on the Georgia coast.  The time was 1984, but could have been today or any day.  The poem appeared in Eternity Magazine, Feb. 1986, p. 24.

seashell5

Time at the Seaside

Sonnet XLII

 

The beach curves away forever, winding

Its arms around the rear horizon, vast

In reach as is the ocean flowing past.

The waves curve and break, forever finding

The sand, and in their surging ever grinding

To smoothness shell and hull and sunken mast

Until they wear to nothingness at last,

While still the waves roll on—the law is binding.

seashell3

And I have seen the shell upon the shore

Too often swept away by waves and slammed

Back sandward past all smoothing, ‘til it crumbles

To dust and dullness, is a shell no more.

It’s more than just the vastness here that humbles:

It’s this bright hardness to the same fate damned.

seashell1

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

Complications in Writing, Grande Finale: Attacked by a Portuguese Man o’ War

You never know what’s lurking in the depths of the ocean . . .

It was a glorious, sunny day in Pensacola, Florida.  I was a carefree eighteen-year-old freshman, eager to bask in the sun and work on my short story for my English class.  When my friends and I arrived at the beach, the resplendent, azure ocean beckoned to me like Romeo to Juliette, and I welcomed its refreshing embrace.  I swam and frolicked in the deliciously cool water for nearly an hour, unaware of any impending danger.

Suddenly, what felt like a cat-o-nine-tails lashed against me in several powerful strokes.  The pain was among the most intense I have ever felt in my life (and as you may have noted from earlier posts in this series, I have vast experience with pain).  I rushed out of the water, horrified as I noticed the lash marks already forming on my arms and legs.  One of my friends, a biology major, looked me over and decided that I had encountered a jellyfish.  The cures for the pain include urine, vinegar, or ocean water.  Stupidly, we decided upon ocean water (as gross as it sounds, urine would actually have been the best option).  I reentered the ocean and was promptly lashed again.

When we returned to our college campus, I went immediately to the clinic, where they insisted that I had merely encountered a common jellyfish, despite the huge welts, increasing hives, rapid swelling of my limbs, and vomiting.  I returned to my dorm room, and suddenly started having difficulty breathing.  My roommate called her mother, a former nurse, who commanded us to call the local Emergency Room.  We did so, and they told me to get there immediately.

Herein lay a slight problem.  The excessively strict college that I attended at the time (which shall remain nameless, though you can probably figure it out) had funny ideas about students leaving campus, regardless of the reason.  Despite my rather frightening state, I was forced to secure a pass in order to leave.  My pass had to be signed by a residence manager.  I had to also secure a driver (I had no car on campus), who had to be both over 21 and a prayer leader.  I also had to find a third person, since women were forbidden from leaving campus alone and had to be in groups of at least three.  All of this took time, and as time passed, I grew worse and worse.

At the hospital, ER got me into a room faster than ever before.  Not even my massive burns got me into a room so quickly!  I think it only took twenty minutes or so (in my vast experience, ERs generally like to make you suffer for a while first before treating you).  When I got into the room, the doctor arrived amazingly promptly, took one look at me, then rushed off to collect some colleagues for Show and Tell.  I love when my injuries get that response.

As it turned out, my encounter was not with a jellyfish.  Nope, this was a battle with a Portuguese Man o’ War!  They are quite a bit worse than jellyfish: with venomous tentacles that reach anywhere from 30-165 feet, the Man o’ War is 90% as potent as a king cobra.  The ER doctors were thrilled with my tentacle lashes and hives; apparently, I was a textbook case for worst scenario (this, sadly, happens to me a lot).  They shot me full of steroids and antibiotics, and we all cheered as we watched the red halos around my welts and hives fade away.  The welts and hives themselves stuck around, naturally.

For the next week, I was kept on a steady dosage of steroids that warped my mind in interesting ways.  My short story evolved into a very imaginative bloodbath, which likely scared the life out of my English professor.  Since I didn’t like that prof, I gave little concern to his reaction to my new steroid-altered creative writing.  The hives itched unbearably, which significantly reduced my concentration and lead to some rather artistic choppiness in my storytelling style.  My sense of time in stories became even more diverse than Faulkner’s.  I wrote poetry that seemed to be a combination of existentialism and anarchy (neither a good mix nor and easy mix) and poetry that overflowed with battle scenes, conspiracies, and social commentary from a steroid-induced perspective.

Fortunately, before I wound up on any sort of government watch-list, I finished the steroids and my writing returned to “normal”.  I destroyed the poetry and the stories, out of fear that someone high up within the college might somehow hear of them and expel me (again, this was an exceedingly strict college).  The welts and hives outlived the writings by about a month.  Since then, I have never looked at the ocean in quite the same way.