“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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“Acceptance”

God give you joy!–you whom I thought I loved,
And love too much to wish the slightest grief—
Give you, whose burdens I would rather bear
Than see God’s glory in your face grow dim
Beneath the smallest shadow, tear, or frown,
That joy that I in you but briefly glimpsed,
As though (as I now understand at last)
I saw a house-light’s glare over a hill,
And God has brought you thither, made it yours,
And opened up your door—When I shall find,
Or if I find, that joy that you deserve,
I do not know, but if one grief-filled year
Could save you but one hour of heartache’s tears,
How could I not—Beloved in the Lord,
Beloved friend, dear heart: God give you joy! Continue reading

“Molly’s Wedding”

We come from under winter sun-lit skies
And, from first opening the door, we hear
Such golden flourishes of sound pour out
From silver strings that brighter smiles break forth.
Then, for not quite five hours’ space of time,
I almost float across the polished floor.
When words need scarce be said—hands, bows, and smiles
Exchanged amid each passage through the dance—
My heart cannot but leap for joy to see,
Experience, this poetry in motion: Continue reading

“Festival”

A frenzy to get packed, a cramped car ride,
Then days of stifling heat—or pouring rain—
Endured in stuffy, short and awkward tents:
Yet we would not forsake for all the world
This yearly chance to hear the silver sounds
Of music rising from unnumbered strings
To mingle in the sky, to meet again
With dear, beloved friends we have not seen
Since last year’s gathering upon those grounds.

To my delight, my family is heading to Evart again this year. And from that delight—and our preparations so far—this poem.

As always, I earnestly welcome your comments, suggestions, questions, critique, or other feedback about this or any other part of my work. (In other words, if you liked this poem, or you didn’t like it, or it made you think of something, or … please leave a comment to let me know.) If you liked this, you can follow this blog, which includes one of my poems every Friday, or read other poems I’ve written here on my blog (starting with those linked from one of the “archive ” installments, since the full archive is by now, at well over a hundred poems, somewhat daunting); I’d especially like to know, as part of my preparations for a collection, which poems you think are my best. You may also share it with others, subject to my sharing policy.

This poem is also archived on my wiki.

Christmas: Overwhelming but not unmixed joy

I wish you all a very happy Christmas.

(This column from The City‘s blog tells of a traditional greeting, like “Christ has risen!” / “He has risen indeed!”, that I had not yet been aware of: “Christ is born!” / Glorify him!”)

Christmas is the first high holiday of the Christian year (which began four Sundays ago). This is fitting because the event it celebrates (to the extent that it is the celebration of an event; I’ve argued otherwise) was the first in a series of central, pivotal (as Rebecca Miller argued yesterday), utterly unique events. Christmas remembers the beginning of “the turning of the tide,” as it is (nearly) the beginning of the year. Continue reading

“Breaking Day”

The morning breaks, and women come with spices,
Still in despair, to find their grief misplaced—
For he who once, though Lord of life, was dead
Has risen now, triumphant over death.

The morning breaks, and angels here descend,
All festively arrayed with borrowed glory,
To greet the mourners from an empty tomb
And be the first to tell the joyful news.

The morning breaks, and still the Victor waits
Here in the garden, just beyond the stone,
To bring joy to one mourner ere he goes
To lay his trophies at his Father’s feet.

The morning breaks; our praises now arise,
For we, as well, have passed from death to life
Because his power and life now work in us
That we may live, and death in us may die.

I wrote this over this past week, thinking about the various characters in the account we have received of that first Easter morning. Most of the stanzas more or less seemed to “write themselves,” and seemed to need my effort only to keep them from overflowing the somewhat restrictive structure I chose.

I always welcome your comments, critique, suggestions, or any other feedback on this poem or any other part of my work. (In other words, if you like it, if you don’t like it, if something “works”, if something “doesn’t work”, if it makes you think of something or someone, etc., please comment and say so!) If you like this, you can follow this blog, which includes one of my poems every Friday; you can also read other poems I’ve written here on this blog (or if that list is too intimidating, I’m posting more manageable subsets each week, such as yesterday’s installment, so you can just start with those). I’d particularly like to know which poems you think are my best.

This poem is also mirrored on my wiki. If you like it, you are also encouraged to share it with others, subject to my sharing policy.

“Under the Pines”

Each Friday I post one of my poems.

Here, underneath blue skies, amid the pines
And all around, sweet music fills the air,
Entrancing us who listen with its sound.
Ah! such delight now thrills up in our souls
It seems that melancholy flees away,
Is routed, and shall never come again—
But such is joy, that with this strongly comes
A fierce desire within for things not seen
That nothing in this world can satisfy,
And so it seems that happiness is fled
And I shall not in life be glad again.
But once that timeless moment’s slipped away,
And mortal happiness and grief returned,
How empty ordinary life now seems!
Oh, that joy would return, though bittersweet;
Oh, that that longing thrilled our hearts again!
For in that yearning, we have tasted life
And, knowing life, now know our death for death,
And had much liefer live in waking lie
Than long subsist in dreamless death or sleep.
Let music therefore ring again forever!

I wrote this at Evart, sitting amid the pines listening to the music, after a conversation that reminded me very strongly of what C.S. Lewis wrote about what he called “Joy”. This poem mostly “wrote itself”, but bringing it to some sort of resolution at the end took more effort than usual.

As always, I earnestly welcome your comments, suggestions, questions, critique, or other feedback about this 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.