“How dim the faces”

Each Friday I post a poem from my archives, until I run out.

Ah, Lord! How dim the faces round me seem!
Have you withdrawn your glory from my sight,
Or are my spirit’s eyes now failing me?
And why, at midnight, do I lie awake
With heavy heart and eyes that will not close?
Were I but lovesick, all would be explained,
Yet in each face I can but scarcely see
A few faint muted glory-echoes, dim
Where once I stood transfixed under the sight
Of brightness beaming from each face and form,
And greater still, like sun to candlelight,
Was she, my heart’s beloved in that time,
For whom I often in unselfish prayer
Would bend my knee and spread my hands to you.
How easily your word came to my thoughts
And prayer and praise and thanks came to my lips!
Oh, that you would within me kindle fresh
That flame of faith-fueled passion that there burned;
That you’d again return me to your way
And make me walk in it. O Lord, relent!
Bend down your ear to hear me once again,
In kindness and compassion smile on me,
And let your Spirit cleanse and dwell in me.

Unlike most poems I post to this blog, this one is quite recent; I wrote it last week. And that—a large archive but vanishingly few recent poems—is part of the problem this poem is about. I’m not sure this poem is quite finished yet; it feels like it wants a section promising what I’ll do if my request is granted, like in the psalms from which this drew inspiration, theme, and language.

As always I welcome your comments, critique, suggestions, or any other feedback on this poem or any other part of my work.

Crossposted to my wiki.

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2 thoughts on ““How dim the faces”

  1. I can tell the difference in quality. Much smoother than your old poems.

    But why wait around for the (figurative) grace to write again? Make yourself do it. You’ll usually only produce crap if you are writing from your own steam without inspiration, but not always. And I’ve found that often the inspiration will wake up and hasten to you if it sees you’re moving on without it.

    • Thank you.

      I suspect that the perceived difference in quality is somewhat greater than any real difference; I began last November with what I thought of as my best work, so what I’ve been posting recently is what I think of as ‘barely presentable.” You can compare this and other recent poems, like “How long, O Lord, will you remain aloof”, “Sunbeams dance”, “There are no words”, and “Hold! Fleeting instant”, to the poems I began with, like “Caveat lector”, “Ah, for the olden days”, “Taliesin to a Critic”, and “Song for O’Carolan”.

      Aside from Pooh’s dictum that “Poetry and Hums aren’t things which you get, they’re things which get you. And all you can do is to go where they can find you.” (House at Pooh Corner), II find it tremendously difficult to write a poem without some sort of starting point. This poem began with some form of the question it now opens with, and then my sense of meter (directed by the Spirit, I hope) carried it on to the end. Given a thought, which is to say a sentence or two, to start with I can in a pinch write blank verse at some length. But if that idea doesn’t “come to me,” every word is a nigh-impossible struggle. For example, I write sonnets for the birthdays of certain well-beloved absent friends, and while the seminal birthday poem went through two incomplete drafts in my head and then came out in final form in the space of a few hours, its successors have taken from weeks to months.

      In any case, poetry is not my primary vocation. (At least, I don’t think it is …) My task as a writer is the Shine Cycle, my fantasy series-in-preparation; poetry is literally a gracious gift.

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