I don’t really keep to many of the “rules” that those who write books and give advice on preaching say should be observed when delivering a sermon. It is not that such books are not helpful, indeed one is pretty foolish not to take some sort of advice or at least put some thought into what makes communication effective. However, there needs to be room for individuality. I am afraid to say my preaching would not pass the mark of style snobs, who seem to see sermons as works of art.
Well, the same is true of my “poetry,” only more so. I have never studied poetry in any depth and don’t know anything about the rules for writing a poem – thought I did win a prize at school with the grand title, “The London Prize for English”! Like my sermons, they tend to be just an overflow of something I myself have come to see or realise, something that has brought life to me, especially at moments when like a hungry beggar who hasn’t managed to eat for a while, I have been longing for a fresh taste of the Bread of Life, a fresh taste of Christ. As with my sermons, I know my poems would not please those who know a thing or two about the “do’s and dont’s” of poetry.
Well, I want to share another poem today. It was yesterday’s blog that brought it to mind. I talked in that blog about the “tone” of Jesus: how He spoke to the woman at the well, how He knocked at the door of the church in Laodicea and how He looked at Simon Peter who had just denied Him three times. It was when I wrote about Simon Peter, I remembered that a few years ago I wrote a poem about him. I know poets are maybe not supposed to explain their works, but I am not really a poet. I just write words and rhythms that please me, just for my personal enjoyment rather than with any thoughts of sharing the end result. However, I do want to explain the origins of this particular poem. I was sitting in the garden; it was a beautiful cool evening at the end of a beautiful summer’s day. Suddenly a midge landed on my hand. What amazed me was that I registered something so tiny and light, that I could feel it landing on me at all. It didn’t bite me; it just landed and then took off again. Somehow or other the sheer lightness and gentleness of its touch upon my skin led to a poem about “tone,” about Jesus and Simon Peter.
The only other thing that possibly needs explanation is that in the garden that day I had been reading a wonderful book by Henry Drummond in which he used a lovely phrase, “The Gospel of The Face.” It is a wonderful phrase. In the wake of Mrs. Trump’s alleged plagiarism, I thought it best to acknowledge that phrase is not “all my own work.”
Anyway, here it is. If you enjoy poetry, you night enjoy this, but then again maybe not. On the other hand if you don’t like poetry you might enjoy this as I don’t know if it merits being so called!
Of course having read this far you may decide you are not going to read the poem but are going to sign off right now. Well, may God bless even you, “Ya Philistine!” (explanation for those South of the border between Scotland and England or from overseas: the pejorative use of the word “Philistine” probably needs no explanation as it is used cross culturally to imply lack of learnedness. “Ya” is one of the Glaswegian alternatives to the word “You.” In some parts of Glasgow instead of “Ya” the alternative “Yu” is used, thus, “Yu Philistine” – pronounced phonetically (from modern Latin, “phoneticus”). It must not be pronounced with an “oo” sound, as Glaswegians are very particular about pronunciation, so we ur, by the way. Get the pronunciation wrong and they/we might well batter “you” or more likely “battr yi.” as in the phrase, “See me, (confusingly sometimes “see you,” pronounced with an “oo” sound), Am goiny (“oi” as in “phone”) battr yi.” Yous (pronounced “yoos” with an “oo” sound) have been tellt, so goiny jist readit (occasionally “readut” with the phonetic pronunciation of “u” being mixed with a peculiar “i” sound and said as though the whole world is against one and treating one with gross unfairness)?
To A Midge, by Simon
The flying preacher has just flown on
leaving the thought of “Sense and Sensitivity.”
Your life, now over, for sure,
but your life’s work for me, done!
Your landing and leaving,
uninvited, unselfconsciously bold,
– no teeth bared
my blood spared –
Remind me of the approach of One who is of old.
I suppose you can be measured,
but in the great scheme of things
You are not sought or treasured.
A mouse inspired an affectionate ode,
and some distant cousin of yours, loathed,
was not considered beyond the artistic pale.
You have been the author of many an oath,
but a thousandth of an ounce, less or more,
You brought eternity to my skin and spirit’s shore.
You have reminded me you see,
– listen well those who speak of Heaven and of Hell –
I respond to gentle touch
– “The New Male” is not!
We have always run to hide from the breath of even,
It was softest footfall we could not bear to hear.
When spoken to in thunder I remained inert,
When warned of falling and cockerels crowing, I heard no alert,
but..lovely phrase… “The Gospel of The Face…”
No words at all, no throwing of the book,
He turned and looked…
I went and wept…
Copyright K. S. Borthwick
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