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Posts tagged "Poetry"


Who but the Lord? – Langston Hughes

Langston Hughes’ poem, “Who but the Lord?”–though explicitly written about and within a period of deep racial unrest in America and the fight for civil rights for African Americans–seems to strike a profound metaphorical chord within the theological discussion of the role of the law and the intense suffering, lament and doubt inhabiting the area between the work of the law and the beginning of grace.

lI looked and I saw
That man they call the Law.
He was coming
Down the street at me!
I had visions in my head
Of being laid out cold and dead,
Or else murdered
By the third degree.

I said, O, Lord, if you can,

Save me from that man!

Don’t let him make a pulp out of me!

But the Lord he was not quick.
The Law raised up his stick
And beat the living hell
Out of me!

Now, I do not understand
Why God don’t protect a man
From police brutality.
Being poor and black,
I’ve no weapon to strike back
So who but the Lord
Can protect me?

We’ll see.

Court of Grace

Some astounding verse from my good friend Hank Wall, Esquire from Columbia, SC…

Court of Grace

A court of grace would have no laws, but brim with broken hearts,

and flowing there, on stoney ground, would run a crimson tide,

a tide of love, a tide of tears, in thanks for sacrifice,

and flowing from the open doors, this tide would be poured out…

a river of new, unending healing balm, forgiving every doubt…

awash in answer to His prayers, His mercies, inside-out.

Language as Empathy: Compassion and the Grace of Expression

Over at The American Scholar, acclaimed poet Christian Wiman wrote an essay, entitled “Mortify Our Wolves“, on his sickness with cancer and the dynamics of loss more generally – from the perspective of a preternaturally articulate Christian and sufferer. For those interested in language, empathy, pastoral care, or just about anything else in the world, […]

Mama Liked the Roses (And So Did T.S. Eliot): Deciphering “Burnt Norton” – Part 2

Have you ever wanted to reclaim the past? In images, especially those of poetry, we possess a moment frozen in time. It seems so accessible the more detailed and the more sensuous a description we give it—such as Eliot’s ghostly trip into the rose-garden last week—and yet the permanence which it suggests is devastatingly illusory. […]

Mama Liked the Roses (And So Did T.S. Eliot): Deciphering “Burnt Norton” – Part 1

Eliot’s Four Quartets remain among his most critically acclaimed and notoriously inscrutable works. Although there’s no established consensus on the precise meaning of these poems, they’ve all been viewed as meditations on time, each focusing on a particular aspect of this central reality of human life. Constantly going back to the Quartets and always enjoying […]

The Battered Heart of Sanctification: The Poetry of John Donne

John Donne’s poetry and sermons speak to the deepest part of the distraught sole. His own struggles and passion take on life and, especially, take on life within the reader. Through his poems, the reader, “meet[s] a turbulent soul, grieving over his sins, questions his faith, pondering his mortality, wrestling with God, striving for humility–and […]

The Law and The Gospel

“The Law and The Gospel” is a beautiful poem by the Scottish Divine Ralph Erskine (1685-1752). I have not read anything else he has written, but I found this poem conveys clearly and beautifully the proper distinction between the Law and the Gospel. The law supposing I have all, Does ever for perfection call; The […]