Thursday, January 14, 2016

Declaring What Is

I bought a second hand how-to-write-poetry book the other day through Amazon.  I wonder whether some of the great poets would scorn the use of such a book.  Is poetry something that you can learn to do, or is it part of the essence in a real poet that doesn’t need instructions? I have played around with different poetry forms and I can hunt down the one word that works in a line – but is there more?

The chapter I’m reading is about the sound of poetry, vowel sounds in words set next to other words stretch or shorten them as the poet need it.

I skipped the paragraphs on Hindu mantras focussing on sounds of Hindu words, saying them out loud, twenty times, and reflecting on how it makes me feel.  I would prefer not to be calling on Durga, the goddess of protection. She might ride on a lion and have a hundred arms and wield a hundred different weapons – but it/she isn’t my God. The idea of simply the sounds of words rather than the meaning of them is something I haven’t thought about.

The next challenge was to write a poem to the gods (or in my case God) – to write it in a language that’s made up, an unknown language, sounds without meaning to get a feel for the mood that sounds create.

Can any language ever be truly made up? I recognise in my poem some attempt at Lord-of-the-Rings elvish and a hint of something Gaelic sounding.  I liked the sound of it.

Eir ruhm engethir sig nurn
Eir rhut enshrith as nhur
Shrievne both giran, oth Gher
Lathne both giran, Sun Seir
Methlin eir rhum til blethnir rhun
Enshrir both giran, oth Gher
Lethir shu gheldir, en Othri Aan

Bear in mind, here, that I had been reading Jonathan Edward’s list of 70 Resolutions he made daily. It’s an impressive catalogue of intentions. There is a lovely one somewhere at the start that acknowledges there will be days when the last thing he wants to do is resolve to do something – off days, days when getting out of bed is an achievement. Those days, he resolves, are days simply to wait it out until he find himself again– then he will repent and get back to his resolutions.

One of the results of his living in such a way was seen in the revivals that he ignited.  He didn’t ask for revival, or plead for it.  He didn’t particularly preach with passion and zeal as if to find words to stir people. He preached the truth that God revealed to him as he studied and as he set to live his life according to his resolutions.

I would love to see the revivals, but deep down I would want to be the person with the words and the passion that would stir hearts. If it was all dependent on living my life to the standard of his resolutions – it might not happen.

So, in my heart I was aware that my faith walk was a little bit too mediocre and not quite sharp enough.

The next part of the writing challenge was to translate the poem. This was what my heart seemed to be saying.

I don’t know how to walk without stumbling
I long to walk a straight path
Reveal your way, dearest Guide
Call me onto Your path, Heaven’s Traveller
May I fully trust Your road beneath my feet
Lead me along Your highway, dearest Guide
To the place You inhabit, oh Eternal One

It’s one thing to ask God to call me on to His path, but another to answer that call. In the gospel story where Peter walks on water, his stepping out of the boat begins with his challenge to Jesus -
Lord, if it’s really you, tell me to come to you, walking on the water.” And Jesus answered, “Com”. Peter left to boat to walk on the water towards Jesus.

I walk with confidence, not stumbling
I stride the straight path, feet secure and arms swinging
For He has revealed His way to me, my dear Guide
He has called me onto His path, inviting me to travel with Him
And as I commit to His road beneath my feet
He leads me along His highway, and guides my steps and
Every day I find the place He inhabits.

Maybe what’s needed is a bit of a re-wrtie – something less hesitant, less tip-toeing. Something that declares what is rather than what I would like. I don’t have, or want, 70 resolutions. God doesn’t want another Jonathan Edwards. He is not looking for a matching pair for His mantelpiece. He just wants me.  It is enough.

No comments: