Tuesday, August 12, 2008

To a Tired Clerk

...the righteous shall be had in everlasting remembrance...

The ungodly shall see it, and it shall grieve him; he shall gnash with his teeth, and consume away; the desire of the ungodly shall perish. - Psalm 112: 6, 10

To a Tired Clerk, by Jesse Wills

Do not despair, though you are clipped with chains
Of petty drudging, clangor and grime will heal.
In loneliness your city’s bones and steel
Will rust, green-tendoned; only the cool rains
Will whisper down old thunder-roads of trains;
And centuries long as today Ninevah counts
Will fret the marbles of old soda-founts
With sands which now are hotel window-panes.

It yet may be, when glittering frost has thinned
The leaves that hide, by westering yellow fires
Nomads, bronze-armed, shall note where mystery carves
Your firm’s worn name, and dread their wizard sires,
Curbing their foam-necked horses, while their scarves
And ruddy hair are strung upon the wind.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

To a Park Swan

Stanley Johnson was among the more obscure Fugitive Poets living and writing in Nashville, TN during the early 1920’s. One of his best works was To a Park Swan.

I work in a downtown setting. Every morning around 7:00 I walk several blocks, about a mile one way through an uninspiring urbanscape, to get a cup of tea. Usually, I encounter a large flock of Canada geese on the broad lawn of the First Baptist Church. They raise their long necks from grazing and nervously look me up and down as I pass. They remind me of this poem depicting a man whose thoughts are arrested and deflated by the presence of necessity - a hungry park goose.

I caught your shadow in the deep pool,
A naked sword of beauty in the dark.
And I read of the white swans at Coole,
And heard the printed voice of the skylark.

The skies were lifted quick from this dull place;
Like Lohengrin I heard the silver bell.
I saw the maiden of Leda’s neat disgrace;
My vision beat historic wings - and fell.

For what of the albatross and wild swan,
Skirting a black sea patch on a salty morn,
While I stand empty - and the voices are gone -
And you cram peanuts and the white popcorn.

I have not known the swan song, though my prayer
Has beat with cygnet wings no slight emotion
To find inanity itself astare,
A goitered goose upon a festered ocean.

And what of Eve, Semiramis, and Sappho?
It is enough - the tale brings tragic hush.
There was a time - but it was long ago!
Perhaps old Moses saw the burning bush.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Ten Years After...

A personal note: this past Monday, August 4, my wife and I celebrated our 1oth wedding anniversary.

To say our first decade together was tumultuous is a consummate understatement. But someone forgot to tell the Devil and a legion of woe-wishers that adversity has a way of binding people more closely. Monday night we sat together and recounted the waves and billows the Lord brought us through. We are older and and more refined, knowing the Lord and ourselves more than we did yesterday. Our marriage has, as my wife put it, gotten better like fine wine.

With His help and mercy, I shall enjoy more years with a treasure of a wife.

An excellent wife, who can find? She is far more precious than jewels. The heart of her husband trusts in her, and he will have no lack of gain.