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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

Merry Christmas!

 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.”

Painting-Annunciation-FraAngelico

Oh Sight beyond all Seeing

(Christmas, 1980)

Oh Sight beyond all seeing,

Light in the dark of the sun,

Fact behind the face of Being,

Second of Three in the One:

What motive could have moved you hither thus?

The Life that was ever begotten, never begun,

Began to be born, to mourn.  For us

The daring deed was done.

BethlehemStar2

Burned by angel-light,

The shepherds’ eyes were blind

To everything except the sight

That they went forth to find.

It was a Baby wrapped in swaddling clothes,

Laid in a manger: such had been the sign.

The sign they saw by then still shows

The perilous paths that wind

Traditional Site of the Manger, marked by a Star in Bethlehem's Church of the Nativity

Traditional Site of the Manger, marked by a Star in Bethlehem’s Church of the Nativity

Between the Tree and the Tree

This much the sign makes clear:

The Light invisible we see,

The silent Word we hear.

What motive could have moved Him hither thus?

We hear pegs pounded, see the thrusted spear,

We hear, “Forgive them!”  Now for us

The day of doom draws near.

Crucifixion-Glass

Merry Christmas!

Donald T. Williams, PhD

For more poetry like this, go to the Lantern Hollow Press estore and order Stars Through The Clouds: The Collected Poetry of Donald T. Williams (Lynchburg: Lantern Hollow Press, 2011).  And check our Dr. Williams’s latest book, Deeper Magic: The Theology Behind the Writings of C. S. Lewis (Baltimore: Square Halo Books, 2016)–order from the publisher or Amazon.

Book-CSLTheology-Cover

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

Merry Christmas!

Oh Sight beyond all Seeing

BethlehemStar2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Oh Sight beyond all seeing,

Light in the dark of the sun,

Fact behind the face of Being,

Second of Three in the One:

What motive could have moved you hither thus?

The Life that was ever begotten, never begun,

Began to be born, to mourn.  For us

The daring deed was done.

Traditional Site of the Manger, marked by a Star in Bethlehem's Church of the Nativity

Traditional Site of the Manger, marked by a Star in Bethlehem’s Church of the Nativity

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Burned by angel-light,

The shepherds’ eyes were blind

To everything except the sight

That they went forth to find.

It was a Baby wrapped in swaddling clothes,

Laid in a manger: such had been the sign.

The sign they saw by then still shows

The perilous paths that wind

 

Between the Tree and the Tree

This much the sign makes clear:

The Light invisible we see,

The silent Word we hear.

What motive could have moved Him hither thus?

We hear pegs pounded, see the thrusted spear,

We hear, “Forgive them!”  Now for us

The day of doom draws near.

Crucifixion-Glass

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

Cartoon-BethStar