XXVII

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.”

 

Part of a poet’s ongoing quest is to match form to mood and content.  The Sonnet is good for certain things, Ballad Stanza for others, etc.  Those who have only one form at their disposal—whether it be Free Verse or the Royal Couplet or the Sonnet—must perforce have a limited range of thought or sentiment, however good they might be within that range.  I was learning the pensive, meditative nature poem from the Romantics, and found this form congenial to that mood.  The way the repetition of the A rhyme sets up the return of the B rhyme in the shortened trimeter last line of the stanza seems to echo the feel of a tentative thought meandering slowly toward its conclusion.

 

MEDITATION XIII

 

I wandered by a restless sea

As western lights were going out,

And mingled with the deep my tears,

And let the salt spray soothe my fears

And wash away my doubt.

 

For few things cleanse a mind so well

From shreds of hanging gloomy dark

As the spray that’s blown from the ocean’s swell

And the rhythm of surf and the rough sea-bell:

Such, Nature’s healing art.

 

But though she washes fresh and clean,

She will not leave you light or gay,

But melancholy, though serene,

With a pensive peace that’s deep, unseen,

And lasts perhaps a day.

 

But there’s a peace that’s deeper still

And will not flee with coming night.

It warms the heart amidst the chill

Of winter’s death, when all is still

And covered with deadly white.

 

It comes when captive earthly lives

Are joined to the one Life that transcends

The earth and all that in her lies:

Her oceans, continents, and skies,

Her beginning and her end.

 

For the door is opened to him who knocks;

The seeker is the one who finds

The deepest down, most solid Rock

And roots his soul firm in the Rock

And finds true peace of mind.

 

Yet all who seek won’t walk the Way.

Not finding but accepting Light

Is that which turns the night to day

And brings the deep, calm joy that stays

Forever pure and bright.

 

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

Donald T. Williams, PhD

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

XXVI

XXVI

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.”

Not only did I hit a better stride with the sonnet, but, inspired by Sidney and Spenser, I began to wonder if the sonnet cycle might be revived for modern readers.  There are only three in this one, not a hundred or so, but they are interlocked by the repetition of last lines as first ones, coming full circle back to the very first sonnet in the last line of the third.  Since the one in the last entry got it started, I will repeat it here so you can get the full effect.

SONNET IV

A new-born leaf and an ancient, lofty star

Converge in space and time before my eye;

The one as near as is the other far,

And both are wondrous things—but both will die.

The leaf will wither in the summer sun

Or else be blasted by chill winter air

And wither just the same—it all is one;

But while it lives, it lives, and it is fair.

Before man woke to see, this star was bright,

And when the last man sleeps it will remain.

But someday there will be a starless night,

And nothing, ever again, will be the same.

And yet we pray to Him who outlives all

And know that He will hear us when we call!

SONNET V

We know that He will hear us when we call

Because of who He is and what He is:

Creator, Master, Savior, Lord of all,

Whose laughter is the thunder; dew, his kiss.

He feeds his children with a varied feast

That He grows from soil and sun and summer rain.

His Word shines out like lightning from the East

And flashes to the West, and back again.

And hark!  The piercing, clarion trumpet’s cry

That cuts the still night air, unbearably sweet:

It is the signal of His passing by

Some lowly, maybe mortal man to meet.

And at His name, the planets, Venus, Mars,

Bow in joyful silence with the stars.

SONNET VI

The planets bow in silence and the stars,

With one exception:  Earth, the haughty, proud

Kingdom of Lucifer, shackled with iron bars,

Who neither Joy nor Love nor Peace allows

To pass the warlike borders of his realm.

He fails!  For he  cannot keep out the dew

Nor still the thunder, nor the wind-in-elm,

Nor blot out the lightning!  Not a few

Slaves’ hearts’ bonds have been shattered, charged with light

As bright as noonday sun, and made to live

A new life by this mystic lightning’s strike.

Redemption sure it offers; life it gives.

This wonder we proclaim as Lord of all,

And He it is who hears us when we call!

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

Donald T. Williams, PhD

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

XII

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.” 

 

            Spring came at last and brought with it my third sonnet—not yet a very good one, but less awkward, and showing an increasing level of comfort with the Shakespearean form, despite still a good bit of cheating.  But the quatrains function as paragraphs and the couplet is starting to have a little of the punch that the Shakespearian couplet is designed to have, aided by the ironic reversal of the normal relationship of life and death in the last line.  Experience right now teaches us that with death all life must end, but the historical Resurrection of Christ, boosted by the repeated pattern of Spring, allows a better hope (and a more interesting ending) for people of biblical faith.

SONNET no. III

Today the snow begins to melt away

And slush and dirt will come to take its place,

Leaving mud where Sun was wont to play

At making bright the whiteness of earth’s face.

The path which booted feet must go to tread

Will fill with mire whose suction holds them back

Until the walking fills his soul with dread

Whose pathway takes him o’er the ruined track.

Though bright and cold like swords Snow strikes our eyes

And, lifting spirit, fills the heart with song,

On leaving makes a world that we despise,

Whose dirty, drab-dead sickness lasteth long.

But this must be e’er leaves of Spring begin!

It is the Law:  with life all death must end.

Donald T. Williams, PhD

Posted in Poetry | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Merry Christmas!

OK, it’s time to skip ahead to a Christmas poem:

This was a fairly early sonnet, but I still think it’s one of my best.  It stems from the fact that Bethlehem in Hebrew (Beth Lechem) means “House of Bread.”  And so, some two millennia ago, it came to be.  The poem was in New Oxford Review, Jan.-Feb., 1982, p. 31.

Bethlehem

Sonnet XXXII

Bethlehem, Beth Lechem, House of Bread

Your white stones waited silent in the sun

For long years (long as people feel them run).

The prophets wrote no more; the Rabbis read

The old words and unraveled every thread

And found your secret out:  You were the one.

Yet when the time can and the thing was done,

They spent the night at home asleep in bed.

Oh, they could put their fingers on the pages

That told the old fox Herod it was you.

But those uncircumcised, stargazing sages

Came first, and shepherds, wet with evening dew

Had long since been there, and had all been fed

In Bethlehem, Beth Lechem, House of Bread.

Donald T. Williams, PhD

Posted in Poetry | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

XI

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.”  

Free verse, as we have established, is not free and is usually not enough.  One way of adding some semblance of form to it is by the expedient of an acrostic, as in this impression of a girl I met, Nancy Joy Johnson.

N ever in my universe,

A t least to my knowledge,

N ot on the line between before and after or

C rossing the path of any otherwise existence

Y ou have been until today.  Nancy

J oy is a good name for you, for

O ften after you walk away I laugh myself into

Y on land of green trees.

 

Later I would combine the acrostic with real forms like the sonnet.  Now, that is a challenge! 

Donald T. Williams, PhD

 

Posted in Poetry | Tagged | Leave a comment

Jesus and God

Today we take a break from what a lifetime of trying to be a poet has taught me to share some current thoughts:

Why do Christians believe in God?  It is because a number of independent  lines of evidence–the contingency and intelligent design of the universe, the history of Israel, and their own religious experience, to mention just a few–point in the same direction.  But of all those reasons, one stands out as supreme: JESUS.  His birth, life, teachings, death, and resurrection–ultimately his person.  He was the infinite God, the eternal Logos, revealed in human flesh.  He was the perfect image of the invisible God made visible.  Christians are convinced that if you want to know whether God is, if you want to know who God is, if you want the most profound answers available to those questions, you just look at Jesus.

Jesus?  Yes, Jesus.  Period.  Pure and simple.  How do we know God is personal?  Because Jesus looked to Him as his Heavenly Father.  How do we know He is compassionate?  Because Jesus forgave the woman taken in adultery.  How do we know He is faithful?   Because Jesus was faithful even to death on a cross.  How do we know He is powerful? Because He raised Jesus from the dead.  How do we know He is consistent and trustworthy?  Because Jesus came as the fulfillment of His ancient promises to Abraham and David.  How do we know He is simultaneously just and gracious?  Because Jesus died on the cross to pay for our sins.  How do we know He is real?  Because the Christ He sent was so real that you could have got a splinter in your finger from the Manger or the Cross, or stubbed your toe on the rock that (temporarily) sealed the Tomb. 

It all comes down to that.  If Jesus can’t get you to believe in his Father, no one can—least of all me.  What I can do is point you back to Jesus, and maybe clear up a few technical difficulties that might be preventing you from seeing him clearly.  But He is the bottom line.  Some of the other reasons for believing in God are good reasons.  But this one is Reason (the Logos) itself. Stray from Him, and the apparent “reasons” against faith seem overwhelming.  Stay focused on Him, and you can have the same faith that sustained Him beneath his crown of thorns.

Posted in theology | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Hello world!

Welcome to WordPress.com. This is your first post. Edit or delete it and start blogging!

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment