Category Archives: Poetry

Draw Us to Thee

O Light Everlasting, O Love never failing.
Illumine our darkness and draw us to thee.
May we from thy spirit receive inspiration
As children together thy wisdom may see.
Make known to all nations thy peace and salvation,
And help us O Father, thy temple to be.

A Translation of MacDonald’s “Sir Gibbie”

Christine Norvell recently wrote an essay about one of George MacDonald’s novels that I’ve not read, Sir Gibbie:

Sometimes you read a book that causes you to marvel at the possibility of goodness in our human frame. As I reread George MacDonald’s Sir Gibbie (1879), I was filled with questions, the same questions I’m sure that prompted C.S. Lewis to call the novel a fantasy. In his Preface to George MacDonald: An Anthology, Lewis termed MacDonald’s novels “a rich crop,” yet at the same time writes that “none is very good.” He felt “they are best when they depart most from the canons of novel writing… to come nearer to fantasy, as in the whole character of the hero in Sir Gibbie.”

I think this book would make a nice gift for young readers, especially the recent translation from the Scots by David Jack.  I love that the original dialogue is given in double column format with the English translation to the side.  (You can read about it here)

And you may enjoy hearing David Jack’s “Scottish burr”  as he reads one of MacDonald’s poems, “Godly Ballant IV”.

 

With a Dependent Heart

Found this in Alistair Begg’s book Pray Big:

[When praying] [t]he posture of our hearts and not our bodies is the issue.  Are we coming to God in dependence?  Are we asking him to bless our work, to empower our service, to change our flaws, to forgive our sins?  What matters is a dependent heart, not a particular posture, as one of my favorite poems makes hilariously clear:

“The proper way for a man to pray,”
Said Deacon Lemuel Keyes,
“And the only proper attitude,
Is down upon his knees.”
“No, I should say the way to pray,”
Said Reverend Doctor Wise,
Is standing straight, with outstretched arms,
With rapt and upturned eyes.”
“Oh no, no, no,” said Elder Snow,
“Such posture is too proud:
A man should pray with eyes fast closed
And head contritely bowed.”
“It seems to me one’s hands should be
Astutely clasped in front,
With both thumbs pointed toward the ground,”
Said Reverend Doctor Blunt.
“Last year I fell in Hodgkin’s well
Head first,” said Cyrus Brown,
“With both my heels a-stickin’ up,
And my head a-pointing down;
And I done prayed right there and then
Best prayer I ever said,
The prayingest prayer I ever prayed,
Standing on my head.” (Sam Walter Foss)

A Child Again

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This morning, feeling thankful for family and friends,  and birthday anniversaries and consequently a little sentimental, I pulled this off the shelves and read through it.  It was fun experiencing just a little of the joy, mystery, adventure, seriousness and hope of being a child again.

I remember my mother reciting “My Shadow.”  Other poems reminded me of days sick in bed (“The Land of Counterpane”), reading treasured books, and being read to by my parents (“Picture Books in Winter”), and one childhood activity that I have continued to enjoy, now for over 70 years:

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My copy, an unused library book I purchased (it had never been checked out,)  says that this is the original title page, done by Jessie Wilcox Smith.

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It is a wonderful little book and the illustrations are typical Smith.IMG_2375.jpg

One of the nice things about having farmers in your family, and living in the country, is haylofts!  So this brought back memories too, especially of Salemville, Pennsylvania and the Kagarise farm.

The Hayloft

Through all the pleasant meadow-side
   The grass grew shoulder-high
Till the shining scythes went far and wide
  And cut it down to dry.
Those green and sweetly smelling crops
  They led in wagons home;
And they piled them here in mountain tops
  For mountaineers to roam.
Here is Mount Clear, Mount Rusty-Nail
  Mount Eagle and Mount High,—
The mice that in these mountains dwell,
  No happier are than I!
Oh, what a joy to clamber there,
  Oh, what a place for play,
With the sweet, the dim, the dusty air,
  The happy hills of hay!

 

 

 

Screenshot 2019-03-28 09.56.42.pngFried Beauty

Glory be to God for breaded things—
   Catfish, steak finger, pork chop, chicken thigh,
         Sliced green tomatoes, pots full to the brim
With french fries, fritters, life-float onion rings,
    Hushpuppies, okra golden to the eye,
            That in all oils, corn or canola, swim
Toward mastication’s maw (O molared mouth!);
    Whatever browns, is dumped to drain and dry
             On paper towels’ sleek translucent scrim,
These greasy, battered bounties of the South:
                            Eat them.
A couple of evenings ago I had two of these fried beauties (green tomatoes and hush puppies) and one of my favorites, that Gwynn ignored, oysters.  If you are ever in the Savannah area I recommend Pearl’s Saltwater Grille, where the seafood is always fresh and the hush puppies are the best in the south.
View from the table:
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Thanks to Patrick Kurp for the reference.

Schlimbesserung

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Schlimbesserung is a German word for “a so-called improvement that makes things worse,”  elsewhere defined as a “disimprovement”. I found it in a comment on a blog I sometimes read,  First Known When Lost.   The word fits well the mood of this particular entry which begins:

I am conservative by nature.  But please take note, dear readers:  that is not a political statement.  I have no interest whatsoever in the acts or omissions of presidents, prime ministers, premiers, princes, or other potentates.  I feel the same way about utopian political schemes of any stripe, together with their mad inventors, purveyors, and true believers.  We all know the ultimate end of chimerical, delusive, and disingenuous dream-worlds.

Typical of this blog, there is some good poetry (a less known one by C.S. Lewis), and good art, in this case a series of three renderings of the same view in three seasons, to my mind, a comment on how things can change and yet remain the same.

Read it all here.

 

Thou Art Here

CHRISTMAS, 1884

Though in my heart no Christmas glee,
Though my song-bird be dumb,
Jesus, it is enough for me
That thou art come.

What though the loved be scattered far,
Few at the board appear,
In thee, O Lord, they gathered are,
And thou art here.

And if our hearts be low with lack,
They are not therefore numb;
Not always will thy day come back–
Thyself will come!

                                    George MacDonald