Journeying into the world of poetry
On Saturday, I visited the library with a close friend who writes poetry. She bought some books for 10¢ a piece and searched for movie DVDs, while I continued my new adventure in poetry by borrowing these books:
The Lays of Beleriand: The History of Middle-Earth (edited by Christopher Tolkien) 1985
The Cassell Book of English Poetry (selected and introduced by James Reeves) 1965
One of my interests is narrative poetry, so I chose the Tolkien and then made the unexpected find of the Lewis book. The anthology is a general resource.
I began with Lewis, of course, dutifully getting through the preface and then reading and enjoying his poem “Launcelot.” Its Arthurian world is comfortably familiar and yet unique; the mood and language are haunting; the conclusion is intense. Among other themes, the poem deals with the subject of the death of the righteous and the wicked.
Once, Death and I shared time together,
he, in the guise of one I loved.
Side by side we sat, and he, a raptor held,
and I a canary kept in careful hands.
He tried to convince me no harm would come,
but distracted, before I saw what happened,
the raptor took and tore the tiny life.
Glad I am that Death removed all disguise.
Now, I admit this poem is unlike
other things I write, and sad too,
coming from a mind in pain.
Of value strange – to teach me what?
The mind in labyrinthine fears
wanders with Death sometimes,
in thoughts unlike our thoughts.
For Death is our hated enemy,
and sitting beside him, under his gaze,
is not a thing we would chose.
To write of inmost thoughts and dreams,
where darkness lurks, feels so unsafe.
Can we dispel it by pens that scratch,
and keys that clack under our fingers?
God, Merciful God, over our wanderings
with Death, You are Lord. Light Invincible,
teach me! But may I know that lessons are not
all beautiful, and though we remain in safety sublime,
like all others we must face the enemy.
Surprised that my thoughts should be of Death
(though reading of him brought me his company),
I try to remake my thoughts, digging a better channel
for your Spirit, but I cannot. For Death is –
and Divine lessons are not all beautiful-seeming,
though true and real, and truly beautiful.
Lord, let me not hope to make
everything appear beautiful when it is not.
May I take my lessons from You,
at Your feet, that wounded were,
and scarred are,
that lie not.
Posted on February 27, 2013, in Arthurian legends, C.S. Lewis poet, Christian faith, eternal things, imagination, J.R.R. Tolkien poet, Literature, lyric poetry, Maria Tatham, narrative poetry, Poetry, poets, speaking the truth in love, the Lord Jesus Christ (Yeshuah) and tagged "Launcelot" by C.S. Lewis, C.S. Lewis, Christopher Tolkien, Death, J.R.R. Tolkien, James Reeves, lyric poetry, Maria Tatham, narrative poetry, poetry, reading poetry, reading poetry as inspiration for writing poetry, reading poetry to learn to write it, The Lays of Beleriand by J.R.R. Tolkien, The Legend of Sigurd and Gudrún by J.R.R. Tolkien, Walter Hooper, Writing on the theme of death after reading “Launcelot” by C.S. Lewis, writing poetry. Bookmark the permalink. 19 Comments.