Posts belonging to Category Poems

“The ordinary so extraordinary” by Madeleine L’Engle

Here is a wonderful Christmas poem by Madeleine L’Engle:

“The ordinary so extraordinary”

He came, quietly impossible,
Out of a young girl’s womb,
A love as amazingly marvelous
As his bursting from the tomb.

This child was fully human,
This child was wholly God.
The hands of All Love fashioned him
Of mortal flesh and bone and blood,

The ordinary so extraordinary
The stars shook in the sky
As the Lord of all the universe
Was born to live, to love, to die.

He came, quietly impossible:
Nothing will ever be the same:
Jesus, the Light of every heart—
The God we know by Name.

L’Engle, Madeleine. Miracle on 10th Street (p. 65). The Crown Publishing Group.

A Christmas Sonnet by William Leighton

Here is a wonderful poem and theological reflection by William Leighton (1841–1869) on the incarnation of Jesus as the infinite God-man at Christmas.

“Great Son of God, but born the son of man”

Great Son of God, but born the son of man,
One subject of a double substance framed:
Wherein nor manhood lost, nor godhead won
But of them both at once one Christ was named.

Before all times begot, in time created,
The Lord of Lords, a servant form retaining,
And yet no former form thereby abated:
In servant’s form, the form of God remaining.

Great Son of God, than whom there is no greater
No not the Father in His great divinity,
As God creator and as man a creature:
(For more and less, agree not in infinity.)

Teach me to know how man by God assumed
Is both, and yet not man by God consumed.

William Leighton (1841–1869) was a Scottish poet who died of typhoid fever when he was twenty-eight years old. His family moved to England when he was seven years old. He began writing poetry at a young age and was an active member of several literary societies. A number of his poems were published in local literary papers while he was still living, and several collections of his poems were published in the 1870’s following his death. A complete edition of The Poems of William Leighton was published in 1890. (Source: Dictionary of National Biography/Wikisourse)

Poem – “Complete in Him”

I had the privilege of reading this beautiful poem at the funeral of a church member a few weeks back. Joan lost her husband, Jim, and the poem was written by Joan’s mother, Anna Campbell. The title of the poem is “Complete in Him.”


I stand complete in Jesus,
He’s everything to me.
My every need he will supply;
He’s my sufficiency.

Though once my eyes were blinded,
By faith I now can see.
Christ gave to me his righteousness;
He is my purity.

He is my joy and gladness;
He makes my sorrow flee.
In time of danger, fear, and dread,
He’s my security.

Each time I face life’s battles,
He never fails to be
My sword, my shield, my captain;
He is my victory.

For me he died upon the cross;
I’m justified and free.
His resurrection now I share;
He’s my Eternity.

By: Anna Campbell; Copyright 2005


“Had I Been Joseph’s Mother”

Here is a poem by Ruth Bell Graham for Mother’s Day. Read out loud to catch the rhyming scheme which keeps shifting from stanza to stanza. Enjoy!

“Had I Been Joseph’s Mother” by Ruth Bell Graham

Had I been Joseph’s mother
I’d have prayed
protection from his brothers:
“God keep him safe;
he is so young,
so different from
the others.”
Mercifully she never knew
there would be slavery
and prison, too.

Had I been Moses’ mother
I’d have wept
to keep my little son;
praying she might forget
the babe drawn from the water
of the Nile,
had I not kept
him for her
nursing him the while?
Was he not mine
and she
but Pharaoh’s daughter?

Had I been Daniel’s mother
I should have pled
“Give victory!
This Babylonian horde –
godless and cruel –
don’t let them take him captive
– better dead,
Almighty Lord!”

Had I been Mary –
Oh, had I been she,
I would have cried
as never a mother cried,
“…Anything, O God,
anything …
but crucified!”

With such prayers
my finite wisdom
would assail
Infinite Wisdom;
God, how fortunate
Infinite Wisdom
should prevail!

Happy Mother’s Day!

Love Came Down at Christmas

Here’s the link to this year’s Christmas Eve message, Love Came Down, a very simple message taken from 1 John 4:7-10. Here is a brief outline of the message:

I. Love comes from God (verses 7-8)

II. Love came down to earth (verse 9)

III. Love came down to the cross (verse 10)

Note: Click on the Sermons tab at the top of the blog for this and other messages.

And here is a great Christina Rossetti poem by the same name:

“Love Came Down at Christmas” – Christina Rossetti

Love came down at Christmas,
Love all lovely, Love Divine,
Love was born at Christmas,
Star and Angels gave the sign.

Worship we the Godhead,
Love Incarnate, Love Divine,
Worship we our Jesus,
But wherewith for sacred sign?

Love shall be our token,
Love shall be yours and love be mine,
Love to God and all men,
Love for plea and gift and sign.

The Nativity by C. S. Lewis

I love this poem by C. S. Lewis:

Among the oxen (like an ox I’m slow)
I see a glory in the stable grow
Which, with the ox’s dullness might at length
Give me an ox’s strength.

Among the asses (stubborn I as they)
I see my Savior where I looked for hay;
So may my beastlike folly learn at least
The patience of a beast.

Among the sheep (I like a sheep have strayed)
I watch the manger where my Lord is laid;
Oh that my baa-ing nature would win thence
Some woolly innocence!

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Recommended Gifts and Resources for Christmas:

John Milton, Sonnet 19, When I consider how my light is spent

John Milton wrote Sonnet #19 (“When I consider how my light is spent”) about his blindness several years after he became blind. The opening lines allude to Jesus’ parable of the talents found in Matthew 25:14-30. Milton feels that his talent for writing has been buried due to his blindness. In line 7 he is tempted to murmur against God when he comes to ask for an account, but Patience prevents him. Instead, he recognizes that God does not need man’s work or the gifts that God has given to him. God is a king with many servants, and we serve him best by bearing well whatever yoke he gives us. The poem ends with the well-known line: “They also serve who only stand and wait.”

SONNET 19: ON HIS BLINDNESS – by John Milton

When I consider how my light is spent
Ere half my days in this dark world and wide,
And that one talent which is death to hide
Lodg’d with me useless, though my soul more bent
To serve therewith my Maker, and present
My true account, lest he returning chide.
“Doth God exact day-labour, light denied?”
I fondly ask. But Patience, to prevent
That murmur, soon replies: “God doth not need
Either man’s work or his own gifts: who best
Bear his mild yoke, they serve him best. His state
Is kingly; thousands at his bidding speed
And post o’er land and ocean without rest:
They also serve who only stand and wait.”

Related posts:

John Milton, Sonnet 7, How soon hath Time

John Milton wrote Sonnet #7 (“How soon hath Time, the subtle thief of youth”) on the occasion of his 23rd birthday. He was in process of completing his Master of Arts degree and was contemplating his future career. One possibility was to become an Anglican priest. Another was to continue his work in poetry. In light of all this, he reflects on how quickly the last year has gone. Notice the pun on the word “career” in line 3, which can mean “a swift course” as well as “one’s profession or occupation in life.”

Milton aspired to be a great poet but was not satisfied with what he had written so far (“my late spring no bud or blossom show’th” in line 4). However, even though his literary output was not what he wanted, he was confident that an inner maturing was taking place which would bear fruit in its proper time (lines 7-8).

The final six lines of the poem show Milton’s determination to continue his work. He knows that God is the one who ultimately directs his steps, allots him his tasks, and determines the timing. Whether God has high or low (“mean” in line 11) tasks planned for him, nothing is wasted. The next year Milton embarked on a six year program of self-study in preparation to become a poet.


How soon hath Time, the subtle thief of youth,
Stolen on his wing my three and twentieth year!
My hasting days fly on with full career,
But my late spring no bud or blossom show’th.
Perhaps my semblance might deceive the truth,
That I to manhood am arrived so near,
And inward ripeness doth much less appear,
That some more timely-happy spirits endueth.
Yet be it less or more, or soon or slow,
It shall be still in strictest measure even
To that same lot, however mean or high,
Toward which Time leads me, and the will of Heaven;
All is, if I have grace to use it so,
As ever in my great Taskmaster’s eye.

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Prayer Rock Poem

Here’s a fun poem I shared as part of a message on prayer on Sunday. (A big thanks to Thelma Campbell at Plantation Community Church who first introduced me to the poem.)

“PRAYER ROCK” (Author Unknown)

I’m your little prayer rock
and this is what I’ll do.
Just put me on your pillow
’til the day is through.

Then turn back the covers
and climb into your bed,
and, whack! your little prayer rock
will bump you on the head.

Then you will remember
as the day is through,
to kneel and say your prayers
as you intended to.

Then when you are finished
dump me on the floor.
I’ll stay there through the nighttime
to give you help once more.

When you get up next morning,
clunk! I stub your toe,
so that you will remember
your prayers before you go.

Put me back upon your pillow
when your bed is made,
and your clever little prayer rock
will continue in your aid.

Because your Heavenly Father
cares and loves you so,
He wants you to remember
to talk to Him, you know.

In discussion class after the service, we asked if anyone had actually used a prayer rock before. One woman said she used to but she didn’t need it anymore. Her husband joked, “Yeah, now she puts it on my pillow!” Do you use any types of “reminders” to help you remember to pray?

Click here for more poems.
Click here for poems by Ray Fowler.

Some Gerard Manley Hopkins Poems for Fall

This gorgeous picture of autumn leaves in Quebec brought to mind the following two poems by Gerard Manley Hopkins (1844-1889).

“PIED BEAUTY” – by Gerard Manley Hopkins

Glory be to God for dappled things—
    For skies of couple-colour as a brinded cow;
        For rose-moles all in stipple upon trout that swim;
Fresh-firecoal chestnut-falls; finches’ wings;
    Landscape plotted and pieced—fold, fallow, and plough;
        And all trades, their gear and tackle and trim.

All things counter, original, spare, strange;
    Whatever is fickle, frecklèd (who knows how?)
        With swift, slow; sweet, sour; adazzle, dim;
He fathers-forth whose beauty is past change:
                                                          Praise him.


GOD’S GRANDEUR – by Gerard Manley Hopkins

The world is charged with the grandeur of God.
    It will flame out, like shining from shook foil;
    It gathers to a greatness, like the ooze of oil
Crushed. Why do men then now not reck his rod?
Generations have trod, have trod, have trod;
    And all is seared with trade; bleared, smeared with toil;
    And wears man’s smudge and shares man’s smell: the soil
Is bare now, nor can foot feel, being shod.

And for all this, nature is never spent;
    There lives the dearest freshness deep down things;
And though the last lights off the black West went
    Oh, morning, at the brown brink eastward, springs—
Because the Holy Ghost over the bent
    World broods with warm breast and with ah! bright wings.

Click here for more poems.
Click here for poems by Ray Fowler.

Power Cut/Electric Marriage

Albert Mohler’s reflection on the recent power outage in Louisville, Kentucky reminded me of this (very sad) poem by Steve Turner.


When the lights
            went out
and the sounds
      died down
and the pictures
      stopped moving
there was nothing
left to say
      between Mr and Mrs.
Both forced within
the same dull radius
of candle flame
their silvered anniversary
barely showed a glint.
The stereogram had
now stopped its mad
There was no hot
coffee in which to
drown the need for
Television did not
feel bright enough
to play gooseberry
            that night.
Sheltering together
within the dull radius
                  of flame,
quartercentury lovers
wonder if it’s still
possible to be friends.
And on the night
electricity walked out
of their lives
there was nothing left to do
                        but sleep.

(Source: Steve Turner, Up To Date, pp. 28-29.)

I first read this Turner poem probably back in college days (early 1980’s). I found it incredibly sad then, and it has haunted me ever since.

Click here for more poems.
Click here for poems by Ray Fowler.

Only God Can Make a Tree

“Only God can make a tree.”  (Alfred Joyce Kilmer)

That’s probably because it’s so hard to get the bark on.  🙂


Here’s the complete text of the poem:

“TREES” – by Alfred Joyce Kilmer (1886–1918)

I think that I shall never see
A poem lovely as a tree.

A tree whose hungry mouth is prest
Against the earth’s sweet flowing breast;

A tree that looks at God all day,
And lifts her leafy arms to pray;

A tree that may in summer wear
A nest of robins in her hair;

Upon whose bosom snow has lain;
Who intimately lives with rain.

Poems are made by fools like me,
But only God can make a tree.

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