Today’s verse is short, seven lines of tetrameter. It unveils the frustration of searches for what is not God. So frustrating that it’s hard to complete a sentence.
The controlled internal alliteration of stressed syllables is subtle, one I like. I hope to use it more. After all, one can rhyme words to a limit.
Do you often despair of your failures to live up to the divine standard? Does spiritual growth seem a distant goal, for all the stumbles? The Christian experience sets before us the example of Christ as a real goal while it acknowledges the reality of struggle with sin. So that might be the phrase that best describes today’s poem.
For those coming to the site for the first time, here is a sample of the poem, the first of five stanzas, all in iambic pentameter.
Not every day does victory raise a shout,
Not every Liar’s trial is made a rout,
The tares of doubt spring up among the grain,
Or conquered vice returns to haunt again.
Be sure to sign up, instructions on the About and Enjoy pages.
If you’re a subscriber who received this poem, a short comment about your perspective would be appreciated.
Does it seem like the whole world is about to explode? In today’s poem, I take a different tack. Blank verse seemed to be called for. Be sure to count the number of lines. Here are the first few:
A simple thing it seems, and so we ask,
“Why can’t we all just nicely get along?”
But simple it’s not, for man is in rebellion,
The world aflame in passion, hurt, and hate.
Today’s poem arises from a profound sense of sadness, after noting recently the 40th bloody anniversary of Roe v. Wade.
The poem’s uneven meter, lack of rhyme, misplaced alliteration are all appropriate for the subject of abortion, which tears children from the womb and leaves women in spiritual and emotional upheaval.
God cares for the children. Those who don’t will face his ire. Those who snuff out a helpless life will answer to him.
The US is a nation standing in need of repentance. God will forgive, but time is running out.
In early days, Christians scooped up the babies thrown out in the streets, because they knew God looks after the little ones.
So should we.
Some weeks ago there was a news story about a study of wind blowing through the leaves of trees. It noted that the leaves were aerodynamically designed. (I’ve not been able to locate that report just now.) The wind does not harm the trees because of the way leaves allow it to move through them.
I take that as a lesson for life in today’s poem with semi-Beowulf style. Faith allows the winds to pass us harmlessly by.
My original idea for today’s poem was that God has a word for every type of person. And that is true. The richness of Scripture reaches all. But when the first words started spilling out, another, more basic truth came to the fore: God speaks plainly and only the humble will hear his word. The faith is a simple thing, and men complicate it to their harm.
So that’s the gist of this septet in an ABABCBC rhyme scheme and iambic pentameter.
And, now that we’ve touched on the subject, how can we be simple folk to hear the plain words of Scripture?
We must change attitudes, to realize that God as Creator knows us and has brought us to his power. We must surrender our smarts. We must give up judging the Word, in order to let it judge and transform us.
This is a time of partying. Of pleasant feelings, of good wishes. This is a time of new resolutions, of fresh plans. A time to turn the page.
We are right to enjoy family and friends and times of renewal.
But we ought to keep with us the lesson of the house of mourning and death.
Hence, today’s poem. The caption:
No man has power to retain the spirit, or power over the day of death.
Ecc 8.8a ESV
Today, no rhyme, but the tetrameter and the anaphora sustain the whole and unite the three stanzas.
The tools of time do not slow their march to the end.
Do we know it?
Don’t laugh, but two lines of the poem occurred to me in the shower. The problem with great ideas in the shower is not having any way to jot them down. So I lost one line completely, and only the general idea of the first line remained.
But from that wet idea germinated the poem that you read today.
One of my favorite formats is the seven-line stanza. The rhyme scheme is chiastic, ABCDCBA, the meter iambic pentameter, quite regular.
Although Christmas is near, this one sounds more like Thanksgiving. But you’re probably full of Yuletide stuff already, so there. If you’re looking for Christmas rhymes, I can give you one here, partly, at least.
Ah, yes, what Bible version is OEB, which I cite in the caption? It’s the Open English Bible, an interesting project, with its own website here. I have it on my e-Sword Eloquent software for Mac.
She was sitting in the Atlanta airport waiting for her connection to Nashville when I wrote this poem, thinking of Christmas time, knowing you’d want to read something about the holiday season, and thinking of a rhyme for Santa. Not many options there, so there you have it.
But her departure leaves us sad, and though we’ll celebrate Christmas with friends, we’re back to our empty nest.
Which reminds us of how Christmas has become one of the focal points, and battlegrounds, of the cultural wars, to eradicate anything remotely related to Christ. (I don’t relate Christmas to Christ, but that’s another story.)
Between the cultural jihad against Christmas, and the commercialism that creeps earlier each year in the calendar, and the distance between parents and kids, this once-happy holiday seems to have lost its luster.
Or is it more of a personal thing with me? What say you?
As far as the poem itself, very basic stuff: four-line trimeter stanzas with AABB rhyme scheme. I hope you didn’t find it boring.
Illustration by Oddrun Mitdbo
Through this poem feel the underlying pain and confusion of the life estranged from God. To get through to us, God has to break the stubbornness in our souls. And we must give up the delusions that life without God is good, that we can make it on our own, thanks very much.
The last line of the first stanza reminded me of Hebrews 10.29, which mentions “those who have trampled underfoot the Son of God, who have treated the blood that rendered the covenant valid — the blood by which they were purified — as if it were not holy, and who have outraged the Spirit of love.”
So there you have it: three stanzas in a modified Beowulf style, moving from stubbornness to humility, from leave-me-alone to prayer for transformation.
Have you reached that point, ready to tear down the curtain of deceit that covers our barrenness? The Bible calls it a part of repentance. The turn.
The first attempt for today’s poem floundered, unfinished. The second got finished and was half-way decent enough, but too obscure. Maybe I’ll post it here later for the curious.
So what you got in the email today was the third and final try.
The seven-line stanza, while not strictly a rhyme royal, has affinities, with the ababacc scheme, this time with iambic pentameter.
So. Was I desperate? Does it sound wooden? Does it work?
Photo, courtesy Wikipedia, of King James I of Scotland, after whom presumably the Rhyme Royal was named.
This background post to the poem titled above is reprinted and adapted from a Posterous blog some eight months ago. I put it here in anticipation of the poem being published online
shortly. (Now published.)
Lately, I’ve been doing a number of lyrics for songs. So today’s poem may wind up on some sheet music before long as well. But first the Cloudburst subscribers got it, back on Leap Day earlier this year.
The first stanza, of four, was suggested to me by text somewhere in some Daily Office or Common Prayer, which I can’t find right at the moment. I reproduced “everliving” as it was in the text, so don’t bicker with me on that.
The poem was written on Leap Day. Appropriate, no? And, as if Leap Day brought its complications, both my personal website, where I’d been publishing the Cloudburst backgrounds back then, and the email service, to which I send the poems, were down. But by might and fight we managed to get it out to the email list subscribers.
The form is variation of an old standard (Common Meter, but it’s actually 126.96.36.199), but not the worse for wear.
BTW, you can see where the above image comes from. I tried contacting the owner, but he failed to provide a contact form on his website. Since this was offered as a free wallpaper, it seemed suitable for online use as well.