“The Praise of Poetry”

“Hail, Poetry—” No, that’s not (truly) right,
For poetry is a created thing;
It did not take up pen and write itself.
We should not hold it up to wild acclaim,
As though it were some minor, lesser God,
And yet neglect the mind that gave it thought.
Instead, we should give greatest thanks to God:
Whose Spirit moves in futile human minds
To make them capable of fitting praise;
Who spoke all that exists, or ever will,
From formless, timeless nothing into being;
And whose Word took on our human flesh.
Yes, that Word well deserves our praise,
To whom all honest human poets point.

This poem came to me over the last couple of days, and would not let me get to sleep until I’d gotten it down. There were several false starts, where I had to throw away a line or two or three, but in its essentials it “came out” nearly fully formed. The opening refers, of course, to the famous chorus in The Pirates of Penzance. (This is not my first poem partly built around Gilbert and Sullivan allusion; my 2009 poem “Hold! fleeting Instant” built toward a line from The Mikado.]

As always, I earnestly welcome your (further) comments, suggestions, questions, critique, or other feedback about this or any other part of my work. If you liked this, you can follow this blog, which includes one of my poems nearly every Friday, or read other poems I’ve written (perhaps starting with those linked from one of the “archive” installments, since the full archive is by now, at over two hundred poems, somewhat daunting). You may also share this poem with others, subject to my sharing policy.

This poem is also mirrored on my wiki.


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