“Psalm 16”

Protect me, God, my chosen hiding place!
As I have said, you are my only good,
And all my joy is in your holy ones
Whose lives show forth your glory in the land—
But those who leave the truth for other gods
Shall surely always see their sorrows grow,
So I will make no offerings to them,
Nor shall I even speak their names aloud.

Lord, you in grace have given me a share
Within your kingdom and among your folk,
And even welcomed me within your house;
Your will and law securely hold my cause,
And you assigned a pleasant place to me.
I praise you, Lord, for showing me your way;
Even at night my heart repeats your words,
And while you always stand at my right hand,
Nothing can move me or shall make me fall.

Even my flesh is safe within your care;
You will not let me slip out from your hand
To fall into the silence of the grave,
Nor suffer rot to touch your Righteous One,
And so my heart and tongue rejoice with praise.
For you will show the road of life to me,
The path to meet you, where is utmost joy,
And grant me pleasure for uncounted days.

A Summer Day (Eduardo Leon Garrido)

This poem is the sixteenth in my series of verse paraphrases of the Psalms. I began this project in 2012, starting with the first Psalm, and have worked on one Psalm at a time; I began this poem soon after finishing my setting of Psalm 15, back in February, but didn’t finish it until earlier this month.

As always, I earnestly welcome your comments, questions, critique, or other feedback about this or any other part of my work. If you’d like to read more of my poetry, you can read my archive (also organized in more manageable installments), follow this blog for (now only occasional) new poetry (among other things), or get my book, which contains over sixty of my best poems, each paired with a public-domain illustration or drawing. You may also share this poem with others, subject to my sharing policy.

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“The Fading Lights”

Each Friday I post one of my poems.

Look—out, into the west, from whence we came,
And eastward, toward the city, yet unseen,
That is our longing journey’s promised end—
And see the pilgrim lights, behind, ahead,
Of those who go before and follow us.
What joy to run amid their company,
But ah! what sorrow grips us when we see
Each fading torch fail—slacken—in its light
When God, its bearer’s Maker, brings her home.

I wrote this poem last week after a dream reminded me of “Da Slockit Light”, a sad air by Shetland fiddler Tom Anderson. Beyond the image that inspired that tune, I also drew on several Biblical images.

I always welcome your comments, critique, suggestions, or any other feedback on this poem or any other part of my work. You can also read other poems I’ve written here on my blog; in particular, I’d like to know which poems you think are my best.

This poem is also posted on my wiki.

“Behold, our lives”

Each Friday I post a poem, until I run out.

Behold, our lives are like flurrying snow:
Whirled about yet peaceful in childhood’s clouds;
Once dropped in youth, falling ever faster
Yet tossed and carried by the dizzying winds
Until, at a late stage of life, we land.
Some melt–expire–then on the warmer ground,
While some endure, packed beneath the others
Or set atop them to reflect the light
And glory shining down from heaven above
Once clouds and windy snowstorms all have passed.

I wrote this several months ago; I don’t know what, if anything, prompted it, but I decided to save it until the image had a more immediate referent. In any case, as always I welcome your comments, critique, suggestions (perhaps of a real title?), or any other feedback on this poem or any other part of my work. You can also read other poems I’ve written on my blog.

This poem is also posted on my wiki.

“Approaching Harvest”

Each Friday I post poetry from my archive, until I run out.

The boughs, heavy-laden with fruit, hang low;
We see the fields are harvest-white in truth
As well as metaphor, and every day
We pluck more produce from the drooping vines.
For all this bounty, graciously bestowed,
We give God, our Provider, thanks and praise.
Yet one more harvest still remains unripe:
Two thousand years ago God gathered in
The first-fruits of that harvest, “them that sleep.”
How long, O Lord, must we more loved ones sow?
Put forth your strength, through us or angel hosts,
To swiftly ready this your planted field
For your command to bring that harvest in.
Oh, that you’d sound that trumpet! Hasten, Lord!
Yet, Lord, if you will grant but one request,
Let it be this: Let me not be a tare,
But, rather, let me be a fruitful seed,
One gathered in your garner when you come.
And, more, O Lord, no will but yours be done.

This is another more recent poem, written less than a month ago. As always I welcome your comments, critique, suggestions, or any other feedback on this poem or any other part of my work.

Also posted to my wiki.

“A Dream”

In the morning, half asleep,
Waiting for the alarm to chime,
I dreamed a strange and terrible dream.
Standing on the golden shore of a silver sea
Under rainbow-colored skies: I dreamed
I saw Rhiannon standing there alone —
Rhiannon, weeping for her brothers
(Who today yet live!) —
Rhiannon weeping, refusing to be comforted.

I walked alone along that golden strand;
I went to her, to try to bear her burden.
As the fair princess soaked my shirt with tears,
She muttered out how much abandoned and alone she felt,
Then — “I will not lose another brother!”

I said to her: “God has not abandoned you, and
I am here for you.” Then, to lift her mind above her grief,
I said, “Listen to the sound of the sea! Look at it;
Hear the cries of the seabirds. Look over it,
Look to the horizon. Those we love have passed over
Into their rest and their reward, and, too,
Our Lord will soon come to us.”

I dreamed, then, two ways at once, losing that present time
And seeing things far as distant from that shore
Than it is or shall be from this day —
First, when she, despite my efforts, refused all comfort,
I saw her father and me standing on the same shore
Weeping for her as she had for her brothers.
Second, when she took God’s peace I offered her,
I saw her wedding interrupted by the last trumpet.

This was a dream I had in early October, 2007. I got this (perhaps somewhat embellished) record of it down on paper before it faded, probably during breakfast. I’ve now also posted it to my wiki. And as always your feedback of any kind, whether critique, reply, commendation, question, or suggestion (especially of a better title or what to post next), or anything else, is eagerly requested and greatly appreciated.