the green fields beyond


Location: Charles City, Virginia, United States

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Two for Tuesday

It's been a hard weekend. It's been a hard couple of weeks, in fact. So we need two poems this time.


Try to praise the mutilated world.
Remember June's long days,
and wild strawberries, drops of wine, the dew.
The nettles that methodically overgrow
the abandoned homesteads of exiles.
You must praise the mutilated world.

You watched the stylish yachts and ships;
one of them had a long trip ahead of it,
while salty oblivion awaited others.
You've seen the refugees heading nowhere,
you've heard the executioners sing joyfully.
You should praise the mutilated world.

Remember the moments when we were together
in a white room and the curtain fluttered.
Return in thought to the concert where the music flared.
You gathered acorns in the park in autumn
and leaves eddied over the earth's scars.

Praise the mutilated world
and the gray feather a thrush lost,
and the gentle light that strays and vanishes
and returns.

--Adam Zagajewski (Translated from the Polish, by Clare Cavanagh.)

Why It Matters (song lyrics)

Sit with me and tell me once again
Of the story that's been told us
Of the power that will hold us
Of the beauty, of the beauty
Why it matters

Speak to me until I understand
Why our thinking and creating
Why our efforts of narrating
About the beauty, of the beauty
And why it matters

Like the statue in the park
Of this war torn town
And its protest of the darkness
And the chaos all around
With its beauty, how it matters
How it matters

Show me the love that never fails
The compassion and attention
'Midst confusion and dissention
Like small ramparts for the soul
How it matters

Like a single cup of water
How it matters...

---Sara Groves

Read more!

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Those Winter Sundays: Poetry Month Continues

Those Winter Sundays

Sundays too my father got up early
and put his clothes on in the blueblack cold,
then with cracked hands that ached
from labor in the weekday weather made
banked fires blaze. No one ever thanked him.

I'd wake and hear the cold splintering, breaking.
When the rooms were warm, he'd call,
and slowly I would rise and dress,
fearing the chronic angers of that house,

speaking indifferently to him,
who had driven out the cold
and polished my good shoes as well.
What did I know, what did I know
of love's austere and lonely offices?

--Robert Hayden, 1962

(As Mark Twain pointed out, our parents seem smarter, the older we get. Thanks, Dad.)

Read more!

Friday, April 13, 2007


In honor of National Poetry Month, I'll be posting a few poems over the next couple of weeks. This first one...well, it's a downer, but they won't all be so.

Randall Jarrell

It was not dying: everybody died.
It was not dying: we had died before
In the routine crashes-- and our fields
Called up the papers, wrote home to our folks,
And the rates rose, all because of us.
We died on the wrong page of the almanac,
Scattered on mountains fifty miles away;
Diving on haystacks, fighting with a friend,
We blazed up on the lines we never saw.
We died like aunts or pets or foreigners.
(When we left high school nothing else had died
For us to figure we had died like.)

In our new planes, with our new crews, we bombed
The ranges by the desert or the shore,
Fired at towed targets, waited for our scores--
And turned into replacements and woke up
One morning, over England, operational.
It wasn't different: but if we died
It was not an accident but a mistake
(But an easy one for anyone to make.)

We read our mail and counted up our missions--
In bombers named for girls, we burned
The cities we had learned about in school--
Till our lives wore out; our bodies lay among
The people we had killed and never seen.
When we lasted long enough they gave us medals;
When we died they said, "Our casualties were low."
They said, "Here are the maps"; we burned the cities.

It was not dying --no, not ever dying;
But the night I died I dreamed that I was dead,
And the cities said to me: "Why are you dying?
We are satisfied, if you are; but why did I die?"

Read more!

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

What Can We Sing When Life Stinks?

Sometimes we Christians think that if we admit to feeling angry, scared, depressed, or sad, then we'll be thought of as failures. If we admit that the world can seem like a scary, lonely place, people will think we don't believe in God anymore. So in our hymns and other church-songs we sometimes add lots of "happy" or "joyful" affirmations, just so everybody knows that we're still high on Jesus.
If, like me, you've ever felt dishonest while singing hymns or choruses with lines like "...and now I am happy all the day," etc, and if you've ever wondered if God allows us to talk honestly about our pain, then you should check out this article, in which Carl Trueman encourages us to recover the gritty, multi-emotional, realistic-yet-hopeful power of the Psalms for our private prayer and public worship.
He wrote the article because he looked around and felt that "the typical Christian church offered the broken-hearted nothing whatsoever to sing in praise to God on a Sunday; and in so doing, the church was failing in her duty to care for the hurting, the downtrodden, the depressed."
Give it a read...good stuff.
(If you enjoy Carl's article, you might want to read his excellent collection of essays, The Wages of Spin. )

Read more!