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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.”

 Dante meets Piccarda in one of the lower circles of Heaven and wonders how she can be happy knowing that so many saints are higher than she experiencing even greater happiness.  She explains that all the saints in Heaven are filled with joy to their capacity, which will increase forever—and besides, his question misses the point.  The bottom line is profound for anyone who actually loves God above all, and shows us how far we actually are from that place if it does not satisfy us:  “His will is our peace.”

WHAT DANTE LEARNED FROM

PICCARDA DEI DONATI

“How is it you, sequestered from the bliss

Which animates those higher yet above

Who, like the blessed lady Beatrice,

Dwell even closer to the Source of Love—

How can it be that you are not disturbed;

How can you be content to languish here?”

“And have your passions never once been curbed

By the power of a greater love?  I fear

That you will find it hard to comprehend

The elemental lessons of this school:

The grammar of the knee that joys to bend

Before the stronger god who comes to rule.

Our bliss is full, yet ever will increase,

For we are His, and His will is our peace.”

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

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240

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.”

 Anyone who has been there knows why this iconic building is a symbol of Oxford University.

THE RADCLIFFE CAMERA

(Part of the Bodleian Library, Oxford)

The lamp of learning never shone so bright

As there beneath that artificial sky,

The dome of the Radcliffe Camera, graced with light.

That soaring weightlessness of blue and white

Shot through with gold from skylights lifted high:

The lamp of learning never shone so bright.

Not truly weightless, all that stony height:

In the crypt, squat, hunkering arches underlie

The dome of the Radcliffe Camera, graced with light.

There rooted firm, those arches ground their might:

Theology and letters; that is why

The lamp of learning never shone so bright.

That weight of learning buried out of sight

Was what allowed the mind to soar and fly

In the dome of the Radcliffe Camera, graced with light.

Here one might mount a search for what is right,

To extricate the true thought from the lie.

The lamp of learning never shone so bright:

The dome of the Radcliffe Camera, graced with light.

 

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

239

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.”

 When I finally made it to C. S.  Lewis’s grave, I was struck by the fact that, though his remains were only six feet away, I was closer to him with my head in one of his books on the other side of the Atlantic.  For that very reason it was a powerful experience of the futility of death, and hence of life, if the Christian hope of the resurrection is not true.  But if it is true . . .  Only a villanelle (think Dylan Thomas and “Do not go gentle into that goodnight”) could come close to capturing that moment.

THE GRAVE OF C. S. LEWIS

Holy Trinity Church, Headington Quarry, Oxfordshire

There was a marble slab, the evidence

Of burial, with writing on the stone

Which said, “Men must endure their going hence.”

The mind that had restored my mind to sense

Was there reduced to elemental bone;

There was a marble slab, the evidence.

That well of wisdom and of eloquence

Was now cut back to just one phrase alone,

Which said, “Men must endure their going hence.”

No monument of rich magnificence

Stood fitting one who had so brightly shone;

There was a marble slab.  The evidence

That plain things have their power to convince

Was in that simple block with letters strewn

Which said, “Men must endure their going hence.”

The weight of time was focused there, intense

With wrecked Creation’s universal groan:

There was a marble slab, the evidence,

Which said, “Men must endure their going hence.”

C. S. Lewis

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

238

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 church of St. Mary the Virgin in Oxford is the chapel of Oxford University.  Its long history witnessed many significant events: the heresy trial of the Oxford Martyrs, with one column still bearing a gash from the erection of the platform on which they stood, for example.  A cross of bricks embedded in the asphalt of Broad Street marks the spot where the stake was driven for their execution.  Latimer asked Ridley to play the man when they were burned together, for God would see to it that their fire would light a candle that would never be put out.  Thomas Cranmer at first recanted, but then he recovered his courage, recanted his recantation, and was burned holding first into the fire the hand that had signed that dastardly recantation. The saints were made of stern stuff in those days.

Hugh Latimer

THE OXFORD MARTYRS

St. Mary the Virgin has a pillar defaced,

A ledge chipped in the stone on which to rest

The beam that held the platform where they placed

The men they meant to martyr.  Who’d have guessed

The way the Faith they stubbornly confessed

Would rise up like a Phoenix from the flames?

(A few blocks down, a cross still marks its nest.)

And when those stalwarts stood to hear their names

Read out as heretics, their mortal frames

Consigned to fiery death, could they have known?

Did they by faith then hear the Lord proclaim

Their place among the martyrs ‘round His throne?

Latimer and Ridley played the man,

And Cranmer clasped the fire by the hand.

Thomas Cranmer

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

 

246

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 loss of attention spans, first to television, then to computer games, and now to smart phones, is frightening.  Do we have any idea what we have lost?  What?  Did you say something?

Codex Alexandrinus

ATROPHY

We seem incapable of concentration;

More than a moment, we cannot be stirred.

Not all our gigabytes of information

Can keep the simplest thought from being blurred.

The ancient writers used no punctuation;

No space was used to set off word from word.

Still, they preserved for future generations

The chance to hear the cadence Homer heard.

But now, with electronic inundation,

Is thought enhanced, or is it just deferred?

We feed upon our own sophistication,

And indigestion leaves us undeterred.

Have we the vision yet, the wide-eyed awe

To see what Homer in his blindness saw?

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)!