Thursday, December 20, 2007


A good friend of mine said something like this: "I don't love poetry, but most of the men of history I respect loved poetry. I must assume it is I who am in error." I agreed with him entirely.

So last week I picked up an old book of compiled English poems that my dad had on the shelf and started reading. I was blown away! I actually enjoyed poetry!

Here is a bit of what I've been reading (page numbers for my own reference):

William Wordsworth - "The Daffodils" (643)
He describes the wonder and awe of nature. He described it like a show that God put on just for him.

I will fully admit that I had to Google a Daffodil and have included the image at the left for the benefit of you who may not know.

Thomas Traherne - "Wonder" (497)
This is a wonderful picture of childhood perspective. I read it to my mom and she was convinced it was a poem about heaven instead of childhood. It made me reflect on Jesus' words: Matthew 18:4 (ESV) "Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven." Kid's have some spiritual ability or sense that we don't have (generally); we should learn from them (and enjoy Traherne's poetry).

Rudyard Kipling - "Recessional" (1047), "White Mans Burden" Recessional is very powerful. It reminds the British to remember God. He warns them not to "loose wild tongues that have not Thee in awe" and not to trust in muskets and human power.

"White Man's Burden" deserves a fuller treatment, maybe another blog entry. It was a very interesting perspective, not least because Roosevelt said of it, "rather poor poetry, but good sense from the expansion point of view."

American Folk Songs - "Casey Jones" (1015) and "John Henry" (1016) The American spirit is strong in these! Casey Jones is about a train engineer who, in order to meet a deadline, redlines his train and dies in a crash: "We're goin' to reach 'Frisco, but we'll all be dead!" and "The switchman know by the engine's moan/That the man at the throttle was Casey Jones." John Henry is about a man who tries to beat a steam machine in driving rails who, in his ambition to win says, "I'll hammer my fool self to death" and "I'll die wid my hammer in my hand." I love the ridiculous ambition. It is so American and I love it! Maybe I identify too much with these two characters.

W.H. Davies - "Leisure" (1065)
A nice rebuke to our American go go go lifestyle. "A poor life this if, full of care, We have no time to stand and stare." I think "leisure" in 1900 omitted video games.


  1. Hey, I like your blog about poetry :)I can never get enough of this poem - 'The Daffodils'.

  2. My apologies to all of you looking for Roosevelt's quote and not my ramblings on poetry (the full speech is here: ). Nevertheless, enjoy the blog while you're here!