* Note to My Readers: Due to the busyness of the next month and a half, I'm making a few minor changes to my schedule of posting. All posts will continue to be made daily and will consist of material that has not appeared before on this blog. However, because my time will be taken up by my final thesis defense for my Master of Church History degree and by a trip to the Holy Land, several of my ongoing series will be on hold until May.

- On Wednesdays, I'll be posting some of my original poems from my college years, and then in May my "Evangeliad" poems will resume.

- On Thursdays, my series on "How to Be Miserable in Your Christian Life" will wrap up by the end of March. That will conclude that series for now; however, if you enjoyed it, please let me know, because I may add more to it at some later point.

- And on Fridays, my "Glimpses of Grace" series will be on hiatus until May. In the meantime, it will be replaced with a serialized, unpublished novella that I wrote back in 2005, "Worth It All." Beginning in the first week of May, "Glimpses of Grace" will return, this time in the Thursday slot, and a newly-composed adventure novel will be posted on Fridays.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

The Leopard

Dear readers, you have my apologies for it having been so long since my last post. Here's a poem I just wrote, inspired by Dante Alighieri's Divine Comedy. It's called "The Leopard":

“And see! not far from where the mountain-side
First rose, a Leopard, nimble and light and fleet,
Clothed in a fine furred pelt all dapple-dyed,
Came gamboling out, and skipped before my feet,
Hindering me so, that from the forthright line
Time and again I turned to beat retreat.”
Dante’s Inferno, Canto I (translated by Dorothy Sayers)

The wood is dark; the path is lost;
And I, half-blinded in the haze—
I turn my heart in reckless round,
To follow after better ways.
But then it comes, the shadow bright,
The beast that haunts my every breath.
It lurks, it laughs, it waits for me,
To drag me to an endless death.
As bright as gold, I yearn for it
When weakness drowns my better sense,
But black as night it is to me—
The lash, the grave, and my offense.
I know my foe, and he knows me,
For long and bitter is our fight.
Sometimes I rout him from the path,
Sometimes he chases me to flight.
We’ve wrestled long, the two of us—
Bloodied am I, but never dead,
Nor shall I now give up the path
To this, my desire and my dread.
Blessed Heaven, if thou can hear,
Oh, send a guide to guard my ways,
To lead me past this threshold black
And raise my steps to higher planes.
There is but one escape for me,
I know it well, but fear the path—
To journey down purgation’s vale
And taste of my appointed wrath.
Then down, then up, the other side,
O blessed mountain of my hope!
Then grace will be my very strength,
The pow’r that pulls me up that slope.
And then, O bright and swift ascent!
Beyond the hill, and far above,
To that which grace assigned for me,
A place within the Maker’s love.
I know the journey well enough,
But still this step awaits me now—
Beyond the leopard’s deadly lair
And to the keeping of my vow.
A breath for strength, a prayer for grace,
Now Heaven’s pow’r my heart revives;
I step into the joy of God,
And I will flay this beast alive.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Curiously, this poem has the same meter and rhyme scheme as a poem that I recently wrote. The difference is that it comes off much more naturally in your verse. Your poem is unquestionably superior to my own. Having recently completed my journey through the Comedy, I enjoyed this reflection on it immensely. The final line in the poem is, however, a bit jarring. It strikes me as much more brutish than the line before, and it gives the poem a more violent tone than it might otherwise have.