Search Results for: Poems

Easter Wings by George Herbert, a poem on resurrection

“Easter Wings” is a poem by the Christian metaphysical poet George Herbert. This of course is a good poem for the Easter season! Below is the poem with analysis and links following. I updated some of the spelling to make it easier for my readers. For purists, you can find the poem in its original spelling at Poetry Foundation.

Easter Wings
by George Herbert

 

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
                  O let me rise
            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 thy victory:
         For, if I imp my wing on thine,
Affliction shall advance the flight in me.

 

Analysis

The best way to understand any poem is to read it several times. Read it just for enjoyment. Read it slowly. Read it for the rhythm. Read it for the rhymes. Read it for the imagery. Then read it again. But here is some analysis, too.

 

Form

First, clearly this poem has an unusual layout. It is in the form of wings, two sets of wings. Look at it sideways. This type of poem has been called an emblem. Hear the visual shape of the poem fits with its meaning.

Stanzas/Verses

Second, each stanza of this poem has the verses get shorter and shorter in a form of despair, almost slowing down in depression. Then it pivots at the middle to longer and longer versus of joy. This is a sort of taking flight.

Lines

Third, the line lengths for each stanza are 5 feet, 4 feet, 2 feet, one foot, one foot, 2 feet, 3 feet, 4 feet, 5 feet. Think of the feet as beats, sounds you could stress or even clap.

Rhymes – a

Fourth, the rhyme scheme is alternating on the way down and up. It is aba’b’cdc’d. This is done for both stanzas or verses.

Rhymes – b

Fifth, note the types of rhymes used on the way down and the way up. On the way down they tend to be more closed, and on the way up they are open. This fits with the compression of going down and the bursting open up going up. For example, compare the down sound of “same” with the rising sound of “victory.” If you were to sing these, you could hold “victory” much longer with its open sound.

Content

Sixth, notice how the first stanza is more a general description of humanity and the second a more personal, autobiographical description of the author.

Flow

Seventh, the negative half of the first verse or stanza uses the language of wealth to poverty. The second part of half of the first stanza balances that with the language of birds (larks) singing and flying. The first half of the second stanza is the language of sickness. Its second half is the language of healing and flight. The words in this last part “combine” mean coming together and “imp” I had to look up. It means “to graft or repair (a wing, tail, or feather) with a feather to improve a falcon’s flying capacity” Merriam Webster.

Finally, why is this poem called “Easter wings“? How is it related to Easter. Notice that both of these stanzas are a going down and coming up again. This is like the lord Jesus Christ’s death and resurrection. When we trust in the Lord Jesus Christ, we are in Christ. And we rise with Him (Colossians 2:12).

To me, this poem reminded me of the connection between Christ’s resurrection at his first coming with our spiritual resurrection when we believe in him, but also our bodily resurrection when the Lord returns in glory. It also reminded me of the words of the Prophet Isaiah, “He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increaseth strength. Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall: But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint. (Isaiah 40:29-31).

These are some thoughts I got from following my own advice of reading the poem a number of times.

Christian Poetry

Balboa Park Christmas Outreach – David Edwin Hall

Here is a link to David Hall‘s Facebook page where he gives an update on his evangelistic outreach in Balboa Park, has some pictures, and two videos of Christmas carols. One of the Christmas carols is “Silent Night“ and the other is a Ukrainian Christmas Carol. Read about his witnessing and using apologetics to spread the Gospel HERE on Facebook.
You do not need to sign into Facebook to watch this. You can go to Balboa Park on Saturdays to check out this great local ministry. His outreach is set up by the fountain.

Also, David has an updated version of his website. Check it out here for a lot of great apologetic and evangelistic resources
Science Scripture Salvation Outreach

And here he has a website with Christian poetry
Quiet Time Poems

Personally, I think these offer a good balance of “Christianity for the tough minded“ and “Christianity for the tender hearted.“ But after all, God loves everyone, Christ died and rose from the dead for everyone, and the Holy Spirit calls everyone to salvation, so it makes sense that Christianity was made for everyone. The Lord Jesus Christ is returning, and today is the day of salvation – trust in Him today and be saved!

Discipline by George Herbert (Christian poetry)

Here’s another poem Discipline by George Herbert, a metaphysical poet.

Discipline
By George Herbert

Throw away thy rod,
Throw away thy wrath;
O my God,
Take the gentle path.

For my heart’s desire
Unto thine is bent;
I aspire
To a full consent.

Not a word or look
I affect to own,
But by book,
And thy book alone.

Though I fail, I weep;
Though I halt in pace,
Yet I creep
To the throne of grace.

Then let wrath remove;
Love will do the deed:
For with love
Stony hearts will bleed.

Love is swift of foot;
Love’s a man of war,
And can shoot,
And can hit from far.

Who can ‘scape his bow?
That which wrought on thee,
Brought thee low,
Needs must work on me.

Throw away thy rod;
Though man frailties hath,
Thou art God:
Throw away thy wrath.

Previously, I’ve analyzed the structure of Herbert’s poems. Here’s a brief analysis of Discipline by George Herbert and a poem I wrote inspired by this poem’s structure.

The poem has eight verses. Each verse has four lines. The rhyme structure is aba’b’. Each line ends with a masculine foot (stressed). The feet are trochaic. The line lengths are four, four, two, and 4 feet long. What is the poem about? The poem is the thing, so read it several times!

Though I am no Herbert, still, going to the experts is a good way of improving one’s poetry. One difference is while all the lines of Hebert’s has the same number of beats and offbeats for the three and two foot lines, mine is more flexible on the offbeats.

Sword Dance
By Paul J. Chamberlain

​​​​​Scripture and creation,
​​​​​The double symphony,
​​​​​ God’s revelation
​​​​​Sings in harmony.

​​​​​“Scriptures” and “seen by”,
​​​​​Joint sinewed to joint,
​​​​​ God can’t lie,
​​​​​Whirls in counterpoint.

​​​​​Wield the two-edged sword —
​​​​​In stereo be heard;
​​​​​ As our Lord,
​​​​​Deed must match the word.​

​​​​​As Christ is myth made fact,
​​​​​David’s Lord and Son,
​​​​​ Speech and act —
​​​​​The two shall become one.

​​​​​If you see the need,
​​​​​If you’ll take the chance,
​​​​​ Word and deed
​​​​​Shall praise Him in the dance.

 

POETRY

Miss Hannah K. Burlingham, a Plymouth Brethren hymn writer

As noted in a recent post, we sang, “Everlasting Glory unto Jesus Be” by Miss Hannah K. Burlingham. In researching that post, I found out that the author was a Plymouth Brethren. Of course, our hymnal has songs from believers from many Christian denominations, but I found this interesting.

Miss Burlingham (1842-1901) was raised a Quaker, but in early adulthood became a Brethren. She then wrote many hymns and poems, including the one we sang last Sunday.

You can you read a brief biography of her at STEM Publishing

(There are different kinds of Plymouth brethren. We are open Plymouth Brethren, also called Christian Brethren. Briefly, our beliefs are within conservative evangelical Bible believing Christians and if you visit, you’ll find our worship service very similar to other churches with a hymn singing worship service. You can read other posts about this What are Open Plymouth Brethren (Christian Brethren) – Part 1: practical notes for newcomers and What are Open Plymouth Brethren (Christian Brethren) – Part 2: A Brief Introduction)

Love by George Herbert – Christian poetry and analysis

Love by George Herbert is another poem by this Christian metaphysical poet. “Love” (III) seems to be inspired by the Bible verse “God is love” (I John 4:8, 16). This previous post gave and linked to details of his life. Here is one of his more popular poems from his collection.”

Love (III)
By George Herbert

Love bade me welcome; Yet my soul drew back
Guilty of dust and sin.
But quick-eyed Love, observing me grow slack
From my first entrance in,
Drew nearer to me, sweetly questioning,
If I lacked any thing.

“A guest,” I answered, “worthy to be here.”
Love said, “You shall be he.”
“I the unkind, ungrateful? Ah my dear,
I cannot look on thee.”
Love took my hand, and smiling did reply,
“Who made the eyes but I?”

“Truth Lord, but I have marred them: let my shame
Go where it doth deserve.”
“And know you not,” says Love, “who bore the blame?”
“My dear, then I will serve.”
“You must sit down,” says Love, “and taste my meat.
So I did sit and eat.

Note how Herbert is able to make very good poetry while still being positive and gentle. So often the great plays and poems are tragedies and about tragic subjects. I think there is something Christian about redeeming tragedy.

Love by George Herbert, like all of the poems in “The Temple,” has a unique structure to the collection. It has three stanzas, though the content does not seem structured strictly on the stanzas. This is a flowing conversation back-and-forth between the author and Love (I John 4:16). The line lengths are 5 feet, 3 feet, repeated three times per stanza. Again, the feet are iambic (de-dum, de-dum), this is very popular in poetry especially from the Elizabethan time. The  rhyme scheme is a b a’ b’ c c’. If we want to improve our poetry, looking at how the experts did it as one way.

Christian Poetry

“To a Snowflake” a poem by Francis Thompson

The term “snowflake” has become a negative in much political and popular speech, but here’s a poem in which a snowflake is used to worship the Creator.

“To a Snowflake” by Francis Thompson
What heart could have thought you?—
Past our devisal
(O filigree petal!)
Fashioned so purely,
Fragilely, surely,
From what Paradisal
Imagineless metal,
Too costly for cost?
Who hammered you, wrought you,
From argentine vapor?—
“God was my shaper.
Passing surmisal,
He hammered, He wrought me,
From curled silver vapor,
To lust of His mind—
Thou could’st not have thought me!
So purely, so palely,
Tinily, surely,
Mightily, frailly,
Insculped and embossed,
With His hammer of wind,
And His graver of frost.”

 

We can argue for God’s existence with apologetics, but another way is through poetry and images. After all, “The heavens declare the glory of God” (Psalm 19:1). Christian poetry helps us experience God‘s wonders more.

“To a Snowflake” by Francis Thompson is a 22 line poem (The number of letters in the Hebrew alphabet, though I doubt this was intentional). It does not have a strict structure of the Elizabethan and Metaphysical poems we have posted so far. There seem to be 2 feet (stresses) per line with the number of unstressed beats varying. These short and varying lines fit with snowflakes falling. There are a number of rhymes at the end of lines, but no strict structure. This also fits with snowflakes falling. There is a fair amount of alliteration in and between lines. For example, look at the number of “f”and “p” sounds that are repeated in the first few lines. These plosive sounds gives a laughing feel to it. Towards the end the rhymes even take place within lines. This again gives the scattered feel of snowflakes falling, even more rapidly.

I think this poem is a good example of Alexander Pope’s admonition, “The sound must seem an echo of the sense.”

You can read other analyses here under Poems.

The Elixir by George Herbert

 

The Elixir by George Herbert

George Herbert is best known as one of the metaphysical poets from the 1600s. He was a Christian and chose the life of a country pastor.

Here is one of the poems about the daily Christian life from his collection, “The Temple”, in which each poem had its own unique form. This collection was published after his death.

The Elixir
By George Herbert

Teach me, my God and King,
In all things Thee to see,
And what I do in anything
To do it as for Thee.

Not rudely, as a beast,
To run into an action;
But still to make Thee prepossest,
And give it his perfection.

A man that looks on glass,
On it may stay his eye;
Or if he pleaseth, through it pass,
And then the heav’n espy.

All may of Thee partake:
Nothing can be so mean,
Which with his tincture—”for Thy sake”—
Will not grow bright and clean.

A servant with this clause
Makes drudgery divine:
Who sweeps a room as for Thy laws,
Makes that and th’ action fine.

This is the famous stone
That turneth all to gold;
For that which God doth touch and own
Cannot for less be told.

While John Donne is more famous, perhaps due to his reacknowledgment by T. S. Eliot, Herbert poems are very good, too. He has also achieved the difficult task of making very good poems with positive emotions rather than melancholic or negative ones.

The poem structure: this is the only poem written this way in the collection. It has six stanzas, and each stanza has four lines. Each stanza has a 3 foot line, a 3 foot line, a 4 foot line, and a 3 foot line (for foot think stress). The feet are iambic (de-dum). The rhythm scheme is a b a’ b’, like stone/gold/own/told.

Each stanza is broken into two parts: (stanza one) seeing and doing; (stanza two) negative and positive action; (stanza three) looking through or at a glass; (stanza four) good action and how; (stanza five) role and action; and (stanza six) image and explanation.

“in 1610 he [George Herbert] declared that “my poor abilities in poetry shall be all, and ever consecrated to God’s glory”…”  
Read more at George Herbert’s Life Before Bemerton

“While he and his wife Jane had no children of their own, they adopted his three orphaned nieces who lived with them in the rectory. They were generous in their hospitality to both parishioners and strangers, and sought to fashion their family life according to the way of Christ…”
Read more at George Herbert – The Bemerton Years

CHRISTIAN POETRY