235

 

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 “he” here is actually I, and the intersection of Black Mountain Road and Old Georgia Highway 17 is where my house can be found, blessedly surrounded by national forest land and certain reminders of bigger things.  Only a Spenserian Sonnet could contain the richness (including an allusion to Hopkins’s “Pied Beauty” in the last line).

BLACK MOUNTAIN ROAD AND OLD HWY. 17 N.

Habersham County, GA.

Over eighty species he had counted

Of plants and animals within a mile.

He knew that figure probably amounted

To just a tenth of what one could compile

Who really knew his stuff.  Still, he could smile

At all the fertile superfluity

That seemed to constitute the Maker’s style.

Yet all this infinite diversity

Was structured in a vast congruity

You could in reason call a universe.

Black-eyed Susans, several brands of bee,

Five kinds of oak, three pines, magnolias, firs,

Eastern bluebird, wood-dove, cardinal, crow:

The pure, white Beam is scattered thus below.

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 books: Deeper Magic: The Theology behind the Writings of C. S. Lewis (Baltimore: Square Halo Books, 2016) and “An Encouraging Thought”: The Christian Worldview in the Writings of L. R. R. Tolkien (Cambridge, OH: Christian Publishing House, 2018)!

Donald T. Williams, PhD

Advertisements

234

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.”

Rom. 13:13 does not appear in any of the standard lists of evangelistic passages Christians memorize for use in personal witness.  It’s not in The Roman Road, The Four Spiritual Laws, or the diagnostic questions of Evangelism Explosion.  But it was the key to Augustine’s moment of realizing that salvation was by grace, not by his own continually failing efforts.  The key phrase is “put on Christ.”  Don’t just keep trying; put your full trust in Christ, in His merits, in His efforts.  Here in a villanelle is the famous scene where the future saint heard a child’s voice chanting “Take up and read,” and he opened his Bible to that verse.  The rest, as they say, is history.

St. Augustine much later, as a bishop

THE CONVERSION OF AUGUSTINE

Commentary, Rom. 13:13

The Voice cried out in answer to his need

To take the plunge, to be converted now,

Singing, “Tolle, lege, take and read.”

For years he’d stumbled over the hard creed

Of Jesus in the flesh—who could see how?

But nothing less would answer to his need.

His mother’s prayers were destined to succeed

Through Ambrose’ preaching, his own quest, and Thou

Singing, “Tolle, lege, take and read.”

“But can you live without us? They would plead—

His mistresses—as if to disallow

The Voice that cried in answer to his need.

“Yes!  Rather put on Christ who came to bleed

And make no plans the field of flesh to plow.”

Such was the answer he took up to read.

At last the Hound of Heaven had him treed,

Weeping, broken, and prepared to bow.

The Voice cried out in answer to his need,

Singing, “Tolle, lege, take and read.”

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 books: Deeper Magic: The Theology behind the Writings of C. S. Lewis (Baltimore: Square Halo Books, 2016) and “An Encouraging Thought”: The Christian Worldview in the Writings of L. R. R. Tolkien (Cambridge, OH: Christian Publishing House, 2018)!

Donald T. Williams, PhD

231

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.”

On his way to be burnt at the stake for the  Gospel, English Reformer Hugh Latimer turned to his companion Nicholas Ridley and said, “Be of good cheer, Master Ridley, and play the man, and we shall this day light such a candle in England as by God’s grace shall never be put out.”  It would almost be worthwhile being martyred to be remembered for a fiery pun like that!  (I said “almost”; don’t get any ideas.)  What makes his courage and defiance especially impressive is that at that moment the future of the light of the Gospel in England looked very dark.  There was no reason to expect that Bloody Mary’s persecution would not extinguish it forever—except one’s faith in the sovereignty and faithfulness of God.

Latimer at the Stake

LATIMER

The more they smothered it, the more it burned

With courage and unconquerable will,

A candle that could never be put out:

It was a blazing soul which only yearned

To sow the seed of light, and then to till

The soil until the fruit shone all about.

 

He saw what only men of faith can see:

“Play the man, and by God’s grace we will,”

He said, the promise burning through his doubt,

“Light such a candle as shall never be

Put out!”

Hugh Latimer

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 books: Deeper Magic: The Theology behind the Writings of C. S. Lewis (Baltimore: Square Halo Books, 2016) and “An Encouraging Thought”: The Christian Worldview in the Writings of L. R. R. Tolkien (Cambridge, OH: Christian Publishing House, 2018)!

Donald T. Williams, PhD

230

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.”

Christopher Smart

Christopher Smart was one of those endearing people who lack that little red light that goes off in the back of our heads to tell us that we are doing something socially unacceptable, or at least not expedient at that particular moment.  So if he thought of something he should be praying about, he would drop to his knees and do so then and there—even if it meant blocking the traffic in the public street to which he was oblivious.  He couldn’t understand why this was a problem, and eventually got himself committed to an insane asylum by doing stuff like that.  His friends, fearful of contagion or of public opinion, mostly dropped him like a hot potato—but not Samuel Johnson, who visited him there.  When asked why he had done so, the Doctor gave one of the most admirable, honorable, and inspiring answers in the history of responses:  “I would as lief pray with Kit Smart as any man alive.”  Thatmoment in the history Christian courage deserves a Spenserian Stanza.

FAITHFULNESS

Dr. Johnson would as lief have prayed

With Kit Smart as with any man alive.

So when Smart was summarily betrayed

And sent to an asylum to deprive

Him of the insane temper which could drive

A man to kneeling in the public street,

The Doctor was the first one to arrive.

What did he care what base tongues might repeat?

It seems they had to pray wherever they could meet.

Dr. Samuel Johnson

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 books: Deeper Magic: The Theology behind the Writings of C. S. Lewis (Baltimore: Square Halo Books, 2016) and “An Encouraging Thought”: The Christian Worldview in the Writings of L. R. R. Tolkien (Cambridge, OH: Christian Publishing House, 2018)!

Donald T. Williams, PhD

229

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.”

Marlowe’s Dr. Faustus sells his soul to the Devil for twenty-four years of ultimate temporal wealth and power.  This curtal sonnet picks him up at the last minute of that period, as Marlowe so brilliantly portrays it.

image-Faust

UNFAITHFUL

He saw Christ’s blood stream through the firmament;

A drop—a half drop—would have saved his soul,

But Faust for comfort turned to Lucifer.

The pain it would have cost him to repent

Was more immediate a threat, all told,

Than what an hour later he’d incur.

 

He could not stop the turning of the spheres

Or even slow the pace at which they rolled.

So much for power!  That had been the spur

To what he, after four and twenty years,

No longer could defer.

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 books, Deeper Magic: The Theology behind the Writings of C. S. Lewis (Baltimore: Square Halo Books, 2016) and An Encouraging Thought: The Christian Worldview in the Writings of J. R. R. Tolkien (Cambridge, OH: Christian Publishing House, 2018).

Donald T. Williams, PhD

Book-CSLTheology-Cover