Maundy Thursday

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.”

Today we celebrate the institution of The Lord’s Supper in preparation for Good Friday (tomorrow) and Easter, on Sunday.

EUCHARIST

Once again the Lord of Heaven

Stoops with towel around His waist,

Breaks the Bread made without leaven,

Watches Judas leave in haste.

 

Once again the Lord of Glory

Lifts the cup to bless the Wine.

We who reenact the Story

Seek the Savior in the Sign.

 

More than just an illustration

Thought it is but Wine and Bread:

This, the Spirit’s proclamation

Of the Holy One who bled.

 

It is more than just a symbol

Though it is but Bread and Wine,

For the Spirit flows, as nimble

As the sap within the vine.

 

More than just a silent Letter

Lying dormant on the Page,

This is Truth that breaks its fetters,

Vaults the intervening age.

 

Words like Transubstantiation?

Too precisian to define

How the Lord takes up His station

In the Bread and in the Wine.

 

Although we, like doubting Thomas,

Need to see the Hands and Side,

He is gracious with the Promise:

“Come, behold them where they hide.”

 

It is more than just a token,

More than just a word about;

With this Bread, we must be broken,

Like this Wine, our lives poured out.

 

In that mysterious oblation

Faith is strengthened and restored.

With refocused adoration,

Saints rejoice to meet the Lord.

 

So again the Lord of Glory

Lifts the Cup to bless the Wine.

We who reenact the Story

See the Savior in the Sign.

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)! Order from the publisher or Amazon.

 

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260

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 door that shut Thomas Cranmer, Hugh Latimer, and Nicholas Ridley in their cell at the old Bocardo Prison in Oxford has survived the demolition of the gaol and can be seen leaning against the wall upstairs at St. Michael’s, Northgate in Oxford.

THE DOOR

Which once Shut the Oxford Martyrs in their Cell, Since Demolished;

Preserved in the Tower of St. Michael’s, Northgate,

Oxford, England

Your heavy timbers, blackened with the years,

Once shut Her Majesty’s prisoners in their cell.

Your dull thud locked them up with all their fears

And with the faith that succored them as well.

Did Cranmer wonder, staring at your blank face.

If everything he’d done had been for naught?

Did Latimer think, in that dark, closed-in space,

The flame had flickered out before it caught?

Did Ridley lean his head against the wood

In mourning at the Word of God refused?

The prayers you must have heard!  Oh, if you could

Recall for us the form of words they used—

But there you stand against St. Michael’s wall,

Proclaiming, “I was there . . .” and that is all.

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)!  Order from the publisher or Amazon.

259

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.” 

This poem resulted from a student challenging me to write a poem on the most difficult topic in the most difficult form.  One week later, I gave him this.  Most difficult topic:  the hypostatic union, a technical theological term for the way the divine and human natures of Christ are joined in one Person.  Most difficult form: the villanelle.  I think I met the criteria.

The poem was ridiculously easy to write, because the form became the solution.  the genius of the villanelle is the lines that are supposed to repeat at specified intervals.  I wrote one repeater line to represent the divine nature of Christ: “The Word set forth before the world began,” echoing John 1:1.  I wrote the other one to represent His human nature:  “The crying of the infant Son of Man.”  It doesn’t get any more human than that.  Then the form of the villanelle makes these two ideas weave in and out throughout the structure of the whole until they come together to form one couplet at the end.  The form is the perfect reflection of the content.  In writing traditional poetry, that is what we call success.

THE HYPOSTATIC UNION

                                           The Word set forth before the world began

Wrote out the mournful tune in minor key:

The crying of the infant Son of Man.

There was no way that they could understand

How that small and helpless child could be

The Word set forth before the world began.

Joseph wondered at the tiny hand,

The scrunched-up face, the frail intensity

Of crying in the infant Son of Man.

The angel host deployed and took its stand

To sing out with celestial harmony

The Word set forth before the world began.

Mary marveled at the shepherd band

Who came to hear, while bowing awkwardly,

The crying of the infant Son of Man.

Yet it was in accordance with the plan

Articulated from eternity:

The Word set forth before the world began

Was crying in the infant Son of Man.

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)!  Order from the publisher or Amazon.

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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.” 

Understanding is better than ignorance.  But, no, in this case it does not help.

SPRING METAPHOR

The breeze, a fickle partner in the dance,

Proceeds from leaf to leaf:  “May I cut in?”

He whirls them ‘round, ‘til, giddy with romance,

He then moves on to where he has not been.

The leaves, left fluttering like human hearts,

Return but slowly to serenity,

Whereon another suitor’s airy arts

Stir them again to hope, most cruelly.

They’ll have no lasting peace until they lie

Beneath a blanket of the bitter snow,

For, dallying thus, then lightly passing by,

The teasing breezes never cease to blow.

But men have minds to understand their lot.

You’d think that it would help, but it does not.

Donald T. Williams, PhD

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)! Order from the publisher or Amazon.

 

261

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.”

I have seen this book in person.  These reproductions do not do it justice.  Neither does the poem–but I hope it captures something.

THE LINDISFARNE GOSPELS

The British Museum, London

(Since Moved to the British Library)

The monks of Lindisfarne illuminate,

In brilliant tones of gold and blue and red,

A text.  That beckons us to meditate

On what could lead such men to dedicate

Such long, painstaking labors to the dead?

The monks of Lindisfarne illuminate

A lot of things, if we but ruminate

Enough to follow out the knotted thread.

“A text that beckons us to meditate

Deserves such honor; so we celebrate

The truth it teaches us,” they might have said,

The monks of Lindisfarne.  “Illuminate

Our hearts, restore our souls, and elevate

Our minds that we may read the way they read

This text that beckons us.”  To meditate

Like that before the Lord might be the gate

That leads us back to where the flock is fed.

Thus, monks of Lindisfarne illuminate

All texts that beckon us to meditate.

Donald T. Williams, PhD


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)! Order from the publisher or Amazon.