“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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“A wealth of food”

A wealth of food, of music, and of books,
Four sturdy walls to ward away the chill,
The family beside, and friends afar
By modern wonders seeming almost nigh—
For each of these, and more we do not know,
A thousand thanks, O Lord, we owe to you.

Each moment that we live, our hearts still beat,
The planets still continue in their spheres,
The worms still crawl beneath, the crops still grow,
The entire cosmos still is held together—
For each of these, and more we do not know,
A thousand thanks, O Lord, we owe to you.

But greater far the gift we most forget:
More than mere Providence, an aloof hand,
God walked our dusty Earth in human flesh,
And dwells within his chosen people still—
For you yourself, “best gift divine,” O Lord,
We owe unnumbered and unceasing thanks.

I wrote this yesterday and today, thinking about the many things for which I am grateful to God (see also yesterday’s annual Thanksgiving reflection), and with a few lines of “Christ, the life of all the living” running through my head.

As always, I earnestly welcome your comments, suggestions (perhaps of a real title for this poem?), 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 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 over two 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 is also archived on my wiki.

“Famine”

Illustrative image by Wikimedia user Bidgee

The forests pant; the grasses faint with thirst;
The wells and aquifers will soon run dry;
The mountain brooks, no longer burbling, walk
Rather than run (when they can move at all).
But bread remains, awhile, abundant here,
And hunger’s overtaken but a few—
Yet drought of rain, like this, is but the symptom,
Not the cause; our true condition’s worse,
And who has recognized the malady?
As scarcity and want now lie in wait
For field and hill and woodland, man and beast,
For many years the word—by which man lives—
Has been but rarely preached, and rarely heard,
Because, in plenty, we did not obey.
Oh, that the heavens above would open up
And drop the dew and rain—water the earth—
But let us pray with yet more fervor still
That God relent, and turn his face toward us,
And end the hearing-famine of the word.

This came to me earlier this week, in stages, as I thought meditatively about our lawn and the weather we’ve been having(even after a few inches of rain the last few weeks, probably more than we’ve had the rest of the summer, most of the grass is still brown, and I know that we’ve come off very lightly compared to other areas of the country) and Scripture passages about famine, drought, and fire that I’ve read recently.

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 yesterday’s archive installment, 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.

“Storm”

God sits enthroned over the storm and flood;
In crash of lightning and in howling wind
His glory and his power are displayed.
But we here, sheltered underneath his hand
From danger in the tempest or in calm,
Must now give thanks: His mercy still extends
To those who still defiantly rebel
As well as those who bear his name and kneel.

This was prompted by recent events here: we had a long line of storms, including a few that produced tornadoes, go slowly across the state a couple of weeks or so ago. But the one place in our local area where a tornado touched down and did damage, there were no deaths or even injuries. For the beginning of the poem I draw, of course, from Psalm 29.

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 also read other poems I’ve written here on my blog (starting with yesterday’s archive installment, since the the full archive is by now, at well over a hundred poems, somewhat daunting); I’d especially like to know which poems you think are my best.

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

“In sickness, as health”

In sickness, as health, is God’s strength supplied;
Oh, let me there, on it, subsist, and live,
That I may yet arise and bless his name.
For even were I in the pink of health,
I still would fall to ashes and to dust
Did not my God uphold me by his power.

I wrote this over the course of the last couple of weeks, after I fell quite ill the weekend of my birthday and didn’t recover (even to my “normal”—I haven’t been in “perfect health” in years, as I only know what that even feels like from my one season of cross country in high school) until about four or five days later. My first ideas for this poem began with the same first line, but took it in an entirely different direction (which, by the time I could write anything down, I had forgotten); after turning it over “in my head” for a while, this is what I came up with.

As always, I earnestly welcome your comments, suggestions (perhaps of a real title for this poem?), 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 also read other poems I’ve written here on my blog (starting with yesterday’s archive installment, since the full archive is by now, at well over a hundred poems, somewhat daunting); I’d especially like to know which poems you think are my best.

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