Posts belonging to Category Poems



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.

“Had I Been Joseph’s Mother”

Here is a poem by Ruth Bell Graham for Mother’s Day. 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
importunate
my finite wisdom
would assail
Infinite Wisdom;
God, how fortunate
Infinite Wisdom
should prevail!

Happy Mother’s Day!

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.”

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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.

SONNET 7: HOW SOON HATH TIME – by John Milton

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.

“POWER CUT/ELECTRIC MARRIAGE” – 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
                  singing.
There was no hot
coffee in which to
drown the need for
            conversation.
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.

Click here for more Poems.
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A Wintry Sonnet – Christina Rossetti (1830-1894)

This is a great poem for anytime of the year, but I especially like it as winter gives way to spring.

“A WINTRY SONNET” – by Christina Rossetti

A Robin said: The Spring will never come,
And I shall never care to build again.
A Rosebush said: These frosts are wearisome,
My sap will never stir for sun or rain.
The half Moon said: These nights are fogged and slow,
I neither care to wax nor care to wane.
The Ocean said: I thirst from long ago,
Because earth’s rivers cannot fill the main.

When Springtime came, red Robin built a nest,
And trilled a lover’s song in sheer delight.
Grey hoarfrost vanished, and the Rose with might
Clothed her in leaves and buds of crimson core.
The dim Moon brightened. Ocean sunned his crest,
Dimpled his blue, yet thirsted evermore.

Click here for a Good Friday Poem by Christina Rossetti.
Click here for a winter poem by Ray Fowler.

Easter Sunday Poems by George Herbert

Here are three Easter poems by George Herbert, one of my favorite poets. As with all poetry, you will get the most out of the poems if you take them slowly and read them through several times, out loud if possible.
 

“EASTER (1)” – by George Herbert

Rise heart;  thy Lord is risen.  Sing his praise
                                Without delays,
Who takes thee by the hand, that thou likewise
                                With him mayst rise:
That, as his death calcined1 thee to dust,
His life may make thee gold, and much more just.

Awake, my lute, and struggle for thy part
                                With all thy art.
The cross taught all wood to resound his name,
                                Who bore the same.
His stretched sinews taught all strings, what key
Is best to celebrate this most high day.

Consort both heart and lute, and twist2 a song
                                Pleasant and long:
Or since all music is but three parts vied3
                                And multiplied;
Oh let thy blessed Spirit bear a part,
And make up our defects with his sweet art.

_____
1. calcined. Burnt to ashes.
2. twist. Weave together, as in polyphonic music.
3. vied. Increased in number by addition or repetition.

 

“EASTER (2)” – by George Herbert (This is the speaker’s response to his own call in Easter 1.)

I got me flowers to straw thy way;
I got me boughs off many a tree:
But thou wast up by break of day,
And brought’st thy sweets along with thee.

The Sun arising in the East,
Though he give light, and th’ East perfume;
If they should offer to contest
With thy arising, they presume.

Can there be any day but this,
Though many suns to shine endeavour?
We count three hundred, but we miss:
There is but one, and that one ever.

 

“EASTER WINGS” – by George Herbert (Notice how the shape of the words in each stanza resembles a pair of wings.)

    Lord, who createdst man in wealth and store,
            Though foolishly he lost the same,
                  Decaying more and more,
                        Till  he  became
                            Most poor:
                            With  thee
                        Oh  let  me  rise1
                  As larks, harmoniously,
            And sing this day thy victories:
    Then  shall  the  fall  further  the  flight  in  me.

    My   tender   age   in   sorrow   did   begin:
            And still with sicknesses and shame
                  Thou didst so punish sin,
                        That  I  became
                            Most thin.
                            With  thee
                        Let me combine,
                  And feel this day thy victory:
            For,  if  I  imp2  my  wing  on  thine,
    Affliction   shall   advance   the   flight   in   me.

_____
1. rise. See Isaiah 40:31 and Malachi 4:2.
2. imp. To imp, in falconry, is to engraft feathers in a damaged wing, so as to improve or restore damaged powers of flight.

Source (for poems and footnotes): George Herbert: The Country Parson, The Temple (The Classics of Western Spirituality; 1981)

Click here for more poems by George Herbert.
Click here for more Easter posts.
Click here for an Easter poem by Ray Fowler.

Holy Saturday Poem by George Herbert

Here is a poem for Holy Saturday by George Herbert, one of my favorite poets. As with all poetry, you will get the most out of the poem if you take it slowly and read it through several times, out loud if possible.
 

“SEPULCHER” – by George Herbert

Oh blessed body!  Whither art thou thrown?
No lodging for thee, but a cold hard stone?
So many hearts on earth, and yet not one
                                      Receive thee?

Sure there is room within our hearts good store;
For they can lodge transgressions by the score:
Thousands of toys1 dwell there, yet out of door
                                      They leave thee.

But that which shows them large, shows them unfit.
Whatever sin did this pure rock commit,
Which holds thee now?   Who hath indicted it
                                      Of murder?

Where our hard hearts have took up stones2 to brain thee,
And missing this, most falsely did arraign thee;
Only these stones in quiet entertain thee,
                                      And order.

And as of old, the law by heav’nly art,
Was writ in stone;  so thou, which also art
The letter of the word,3 find’st no fit heart
                                      To hold thee.

Yet do we still persist as we began,
And so should perish, but that nothing can,
Though it be cold, hard, foul, from loving man
                                      Withhold thee.

_____
1. toys. Trifling things.
2. took up stones. See John 10:13.
3. The letter of the word. See Hebrews 8:10 and Proverbs 3:3, 7:3.

Source (for poem and footnotes): George Herbert: The Country Parson, The Temple (The Classics of Western Spirituality; 1981)

Click here for more poems by George Herbert.
Click here for more Easter posts.
Click here for poems by Ray Fowler.