The Pulley

George Herbert again. One of his more famous poems, and one which I love. If you can figure out why it’s called “The Pulley,” then feel free to comment.

When  God at first made man,
Having a glass of blessings standing by,
Let us (said he) pour on him all we can:
Let the world’s riches, which dispersed lie,
Contract into a span.

So strength first made a way;
The beauty flowed, then wisdom, honor, pleasure:
When almost all was out, God made a stay,
Perceiving that alone of all his treasure
Rest in the bottom lay.

For if I should (said he)
Bestow this jewel also on my creature,
He would adore my gifts instead of me,
And rest in Nature, not the God of Nature:
So both should losers be.

Yet let him keep the rest,
But keep them with repining restlessness:
Let him be rich and weary, that at least,
If goodness lead him not, yet weariness
May toss him to my breast.

The Tyger


One of my favorite poems ever, by William Blake, is “The Tyger.” It’s so primal and cool. Also, it was quoted in The Mentalist at some point by Red John. I hope you will enjoy it.

Tyger! Tyger! Burning bright
In the forests of the night,
What immortal hand or eye
Could frame thy fearful symmetry?

In what distant deeps or skies
Burnt the fire of thine eyes?
On what wings dare he aspire?
What the hand dare seize the fire?

And what shoulder, and what art,
Could twist the sinews of thy heart?
And when thy heart began to beat,
What dread hand? And what dread feet?

What the hammer? What the chain?
In what furnace was thy brain?
What the anvil? What dread grasp
Dare its deadly terrors clasp?

When the stars threw down their spears,
And water’d heaven with their tears,
Did he smile his work to see?
Did he who made the Lamb make thee?

Tyger! Tyger! Burning bright
In the forests of the night,
What immortal hand or eye
Dare frame thy fearful symmetry?

John 11

I wrote this and another poem in an ABACCB scheme, which I’m not sold on. But given yesterday’s post from John 11, I thought I would put it up here.

From Bethany came the request
Sent to the Lord of Life,
“The one you love is near to death.”
“The grave is not your brother’s end,
This is God’s glory to commend,”
The Son of God replied.

For love that raises up the dead
The Teacher two days tarried,
Then to his followers simply said
“He’s gone, and I’m glad for your sake.
Belief, not life, is here at state-
Our friend is four days buried.”

Thirteen mourners then drew nigh,
Twelve of their lives despairing,
God’s holy tears gleamed in his eyes,
Yet in the Man of Sorrow’s face
Grief was by hope quickly replaced-
New life he was preparing.

“It did not have to be this way,”
Said Martha, still believing.
“I am the Resurrection Day,”
Came Jesus’ soft reply,
“He who believes will never die.
You need not keep on grieving.”

Then Mary came, fell at his feet,
Now with tears twice washed by her.
The Life was troubled by her plea-
He wept so open and aloud
“See how he loved!” came from the crowd,
“Why was he late, this Healer?”

They showed him where the dead man lay;
He lifted up his eyes.
“Thank you Father,” Jesus prayed,
“I know that you hear me always,
But so these dead men I might raise-
Come out!” The God-Man cried.

A gasp came from the tear-stained throng
When out Lazarus came.
Death fled before the True Life’s song
Foreshadowing that future day
When Life would die so death to slay
And man might live again.


God Moves In Mysterious Ways

Since I quoted from Cowper earlier, I thought I might provide the whole hymn now.

God moves in a mysterious way
His wonders to perform;
He plants His footsteps in the sea
And rides upon the storm.

Deep in unfathomable mines
Of never failing skill
He treasures up His bright designs
And works His sovereign will.

Ye fearful saints, fresh courage take;
The clouds ye so much dread
Are big with mercy and shall break
In blessings on your head.

Judge not the Lord by feeble sense,
But trust Him for His grace;
Behind a frowning providence
He hides a smiling face.

His purposes will ripen fast,
Unfolding every hour;
The bud may have a bitter taste,
But sweet will be the flower.

Blind unbelief is sure to err
And scan His work in vain;
God is His own interpreter,
And He will make it plain.

Thank God for men like William Cowper.


A Better Word

“You have come… to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.” -Hebrews 12:22, 24

“Mercy triumphs over judgment” -James 2:13

A man returns up from a field
Where his job is to make it yield
Its fruit;
The secret is to work and sweat
For food, so as not to forget
The Fall.
But looking at his hands reveals
The dark-red blood, not yet congealed-
Or silent.
A brother’s blood cries out to God
From underneath the well-tilled sod
For judgment.

A man lies dead inside a grave
Whose job it was to die and save
The lost.
He willingly went to his death
And cried out with his final breath,
“It’s finished!”
But looking at his cold hands shows
The dark-red blood and nail-made holes-
Not silent.
The Firstborn’s blood cries out to God
From a fresh-cut graveyard plot
For mercy.
That man now sits upon a throne
Who died to ransom all his own
From darkness.
His blood now speaks a better word
Than him who tended that first herd
Of cattle.
Mercy over judgment breaks
For judgment kills but mercy makes
A people.
And so now Adam’s greatest Son
Can give the people that he’s won

Glory’s Forerunner

On my Facebook feed this morning I saw this post shared quite a bit. I don’t think I’ve ever met the Prudhommes, but I felt the commonality of our faith and hope as I read this letter from Kendra. It made me weep, but it also renewed my hope in the Living God, the one who called himself the Resurrection and the Life, the One who burst forth from the tomb and defeated that last enemy, death. To honor Ryan and Kendra, both of whom I will meet someday, and to share the hope the world so desperately needs, I quote John Donne again, this time Sonnet X:

Death, be not proud, though some have called thee
Mighty and dreadful, for thou art not so;
For those whom thou thinkst thou dost overthrow
Die not, poor Death, nor yet canst thou kill me.
From rest and sleep, which but thy pictures be
Much pleasure; then from thee much more must flow
And soonest our best men with thee do go
Rest of their bones and soul’s delivery.
Thou art slave to Fate, Chance, kings, and desperate men,
And dost with poison, war, and sickness dwell,
And poppies or charms can make us sleep as well
And better than thy stroke. Why swellst thou then?
One short sleep past, we wake eternally,
And death shall be no more; Death, thou shalt die!



Batter My Heart


Another poem for National Poetry month- this time from John Donne, amazing pastor-poet. This is Holy Sonnet XIV:

Batter my heart, three-person’d God; for you
As yet but knock; breathe, shine, and seek to mend;
That I may rise and stand, o’erthrow me, and bend
Your force to break, blow, burn, and make me new.
I, like an usurp’d town to another due,
Labor to admit you, but oh, to no end;
Reason, your viceroy in me, me should defend,
But is captiv’d and proves weak or untrue.
Yet dearly I love you, and would be lov’d fain,
But I am bethroth’d  unto your enemy;
Divorce me, untie or break that knot again,
Take me to you, imprison me, for I,
Except you enthrall me,  never shall be free,
Nor ever chaste, except you ravish me.

Thank you John Donne. Make it so, Lord.