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CXXII

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.”

NOVEMBER

Underfoot, the leaves are damp and cold

Which yesterday were dancing with the breeze

In flashing pirouettes of red and gold

Set loose from still abundant canopies.

But now the bare-boned outlines of the trees

Are etched in black across a slate-gray sky.

The wind feels like a prelude to a freeze;

It may bring sleet when next it passes by.

It’s not the first time leaves have had to die:

The wind has sung their funeral dirge before,

But now it seems like every year that cry

Comes sooner and we seem to feel it more;

For every cycle has a single thrust:

What’s born of earth must soon return to dust.

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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Sprintummer: How Much We Rely on The Shake of His Mane

Springtime in Virginia!

Springtime in Virginia!

Virginia has endured some incredible, bizarre, and unpredictable weather over the last couple of months.  I have dubbed it The Year of the Sprintummer.  Just as the last of the cold, wet stuff had seeped into the cool earth and the trees had begun to unfurl the first timid buds, the clouds discovered that they had previously unnoticed reservoirs of ice and snow yet to dump on us; the winds, which were becoming almost zephyrous devolved once again into arctic blasts; and the wretched flora (as well as a few unfortunate Virginians like myself) became crystallized in the onslaught.

Long-suffering, we walk shivering in snow or sleet or freezing winds and think that we cannot even remember what this magical thing called warm feels like.  And then, somewhere between a chilly sunset and a gentle sunrise, the weather has changed.  Suddenly, it is warm.  No, it is hot and we are buying ice creams and frolicking in meadows wearing sandals and listening to birds singing and frogs chirring and flowers blossoming.  Yes, you can practically hear the flowers shaking off the cold and spreading their petals once more.

And then you hear them start to wilt as the blazing heat threatens to finish what last week’s chill began.  Flowers can never catch a break.

Sprintummer: when summer and winter engage in a war for supremacy in the middle of spring.

And all we wanted was to be able to go outside without mittens.

flowers in the woodsI think the most frustrating thing about this confusing season is that we are missing the magic of spring.  There is something supremely and subtly dramatic in the casting off of winter and the coming of the new season.  It isn’t supposed to happen all at once and skip straight to summer.  Winter is not supposed to regain its hold all of a sudden.  The perfect spring is a slow progression of cold to cool to mild to warm.  It is a beautiful shift from whites and grays to greens and violets and yellows and pinks.flowering tree old building

What we really want is to see the world resurrect in slow motion, a little bit more every time we wake up, until it has become truly alive again.  The profound change from death to life has been translated into many myths.  Unfortunate Persephone’s forced marriage with Hades sends her down into “death” and back into “life” in an eternal cycle that manifests in the changing of the seasons.

But the more appropriate story, of course, is the coming of Aslan:

Wrong will be right, when Aslan shows his might,

At the sounds of his roar, sorrows will be no more

When he bares his teeth, winter meets its death

And when he shakes his mane, we shall have spring again. (The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe)

springtime in paris

Springtime in Paris

I suppose in Narnia, after that hundred year winter, they deserved the speedily delivered spring.  But it was spring, not summer, not Sprintummer.  It was spring.  We look at the world being renewed and we see life after death: the bare bones of “dead” trees become verdant and green and the hard, brown earth erupts with colors.  If you live somewhere with four seasons, perhaps you share this sense that spring is special.  It promises relief, beauty, and pleasure.

It also represents the end of a very great and dreadful Winter two thousand years ago;  and it promises us a final, glorious spring when the Lion will move with infinite power and shake His mane once more on the winter of this world.

So, in conclusion, there is something seriously wrong with this whole Sprintummer thing.  Aslan would not approve.

Vienna in the spring

Vienna in the spring

LV

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

LV

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!

Donald T. Williams, PhD

LIII

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.”

Happy Boxing Day!

 

If I don’t stop complaining about what passes for “spring” in the American Midwest, I will start sounding like a broken record.  But maybe the poems can avoid that fate more easily than the prose.  Let’s see.

 

TO SPRING IN ILLINOIS, 1975

 

It’s April now, but you would never know

To see the stubborn falling of the snow.

Except to show that Winter has its nerve,

I do not see what purpose it could serve,

This cruel encroachment on the rights of Spring.

In Georgia, we would never let the thing

Get near this far.  There, as in Camelot,

The Winter never stays where it should not.

But here it doesn’t have the sense to know

When its welcome’s gone, and it should go.

 

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