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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.”

 The great thing about villanelles (see last week’s blogpost) is the focus they can give to a topic if you can manage to keep the repeater lines from sounding too repetitious.  They help keep us on track when trying to describe a very intense emotional experience, like the death of Dylan Thomas’s father in perhaps the most well-known example of the form—or Dante’s first encounter with the smile of Beatrice, as re-imagined here.

Beatrice

BEATRICE

In her smile I knew that I could see

All the bliss that Heaven keeps in store:

The stronger God that ruleth over me.

I was but nine years old the day that she

First dawned on me, unlearned in lover’s lore,

But in her smile I knew that I could see

The beauty that resides in sanctity,

The joy of the Creator’s skill, and more:

The stronger God who ruleth over me.

When on the street she gave her greeting, free,

There was no greater boon I could implore

Than in her smile I knew that I could see.

When I was slandered by an enemy

And she withheld it, oh, my heart was sore,

For still the stronger God ruled over me.

And when she died and I was lost, her plea

For grace retaught me what I should adore.

For in her smile I knew that I could see

The stronger God who ruleth over me.

Donald T. Williams, PhD

Dante

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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241

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

241

 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)!

 

224

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.”

A POLEMIC

On the Origins of Post-Modern Criticism

For David Hume

David Hume

(The radical Empiricism of the Endarkenment entails treating the Good as an abstraction, rejecting Truth for fact, and reducing the Beautiful to a subjective response.  Thus it undercuts the docere of Literature, leaving us only with a truncated diligere.  This epistemology applied to Art can only lead to Aestheticism, which inevitably degenerates into Structuralism, Post-Structuralism, and Deconstruction.  Once the actual Values of the Sages have thus been destroyed, they can now be replaced with Marxism, Feminism, Freudianism, or whatever other Ism we wish to impose on Texts left defenseless by the death of Truth.  To get beyond this impasse, we must abandon the skeptical philosophy that produced it as question-begging Nonsense.)

 

That skeptic, David Hume,

Gained philosophic fame

Committing to the fume

Of metaphoric flame

Whole libraries of pages

By metaphysic sages.

 

Unless it could be measured

By his empiric wit,

It never could be treasured,

And so, away with it!

Mere sophistry, illusion,

Divinity ( ! ), confusion.

 

Augustine and Aquinas,

Isaiah, Moses, Paul,

Nothing but a minus;

Better burn them all:

The penalty for treason

Against enlightened “Reason.”

 

Erasmus, Calvin, Luther,

Dante, Milton, Spenser:

What could be uncouther,

More worthy of a censor?

Life seen through the prism

Of rank empiricism.

 

To keep them as purveyors

Of just imagination

Is but to be betrayers

Of all their conversation:

Dead, white, oppressive pigs

For mere aesthetic prigs.

 

Good critics can’t arise

From bad philosophy.

It should be no surprise

That we have come to be

Despisers of the True—

Of Goodness, Beauty, too.

 

If only what the senses

Can see or smell or feel

Is able to convince us

That it is really real,

How’d the sensation grow

That tells us this is so?

 

We’d really like to know.

Dr. Williams being unimpressed by Hume’s arguments.

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

CCVI 

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

VISION

For what did Dante climb the winding stair?

A burning and a piercing Charity

That flamed with geometric clarity—

Not Beatrice, but what she wished to share.

She was the first, but not the Final Vision;

Although her face was what had fueled his flight,

Her purpose was to help him to prepare

‘Til, in the deepest bosom of the night,

With certain and inexorable precision,

He saw the Point of unrelenting Light,

Infinitely small—and infinitely bright.

Beatrice

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