When the gray tide of world-weariness
Sweeps into the harbor of my heart,
I wish I could be Homer, Tennyson,
Virgil, Donne, or Keats—
One of those walking wonders
Whose words reworked the rhythms
Of a million readers’ lives,
Who had men of verse making
Solemn genuflection at their feet,
And whose names became the idols
Of those who lived thereafter.
But I’m not.
And I won’t be.
Firstly, I suspect,
Because I’m just not good enough.
When God’s appointed Muse
Kindled up a love of poesy
Amid the fibers and the weave
Of my discordant heart,
It fell tangled ‘mid the surplus
Of my insecurity and sloth,
And there, held back by cords that kept it far
From discipline and submission
To correction from more lucid eyes,
It attained but just a poor-wrought genius,
Lying in talent within the mass
Of flightsome mediocrity,
But in desire, of vaulted skies.
Secondly, my poems
Are too long,
Too keen on arcane words,
And too particular to my own condition
To be of deep enjoyment to anybody else
(Case in point, see this poem).
Not only so,
My poems tend not to be
Jarring, dismal, or tortured enough
To speak the literary language
Of a bleak postmodern age.
When they speak of angst,
It’s the angst of my own broken soul
And not the shadowy dreariness of the world,
Because, quite frankly,
I’m the reason the world is broken,
But not the reason that it’s beautiful.
Thus will my poems make sorrow over sin,
And rejoice over creation,
And that’s as it should be,
Whether postmoderns know it or not.
Thirdly, I suspect
That it would not be good for my soul
To be successful as a poet,
And thus the good Lord spares me this.
Help me, help me, O Poet of Eternal Grace,
To delight in the craft before me,
Whether it renders forth my words
To be clumsy or sublime,
And if my poems might assist
Some troubled soul, then use them there,
But not for slaking the undying thirst
Of my much-deluded vanity.
Thank you for my middling gifts,
Enough to charm and oft to please
A few close family and friends;
And let my poetry never be
A temptation to idolatry,
No, far from it:
Let my verse paint gold-leafed icons,
Holy windows to Thy love,
And not the limited occlusion
Of greatly-hailed masterpieces
That ring with words of lyric bliss
But draw not our gazes unto Thee.