Archive for the ‘Poetry’ Category

“A Book” – A Poem by Beth Ann Cangelosi

My 10-year-old daughter Beth Ann wrote a poem this morning. It perfectly describes her love for sneaking off to a quiet corner to read – she’s a lot like her mommy and daddy…

by Beth Ann Cangelosi

Once I read a book,
and that book I took
from a bookshelf,
and nobody else.

I like to read,
but not when somebody else
reads to me.
I like to read by myself,
with nobody else.

When that book ends,
I might read it with a friend,
or I might read it by myself,
with nobody else.


Mother to Son, by Langston Hughes

This poem by the African-American poet Langston Hughes (1902-1967) powerfully expresses the grit and endurance I desire for myself, for my family, and for the sheep I pastor. “Through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God” (Acts 14:22). “Forgetting what lies behind, and straining forward to what lies ahead…” (Philippians 3:13).
Well, son, I’ll tell you:
Life for me ain’t been no crystal stair.
It’s had tacks in it,
And splinters,
And boards torn up,
And places with no carpet on the floor—
But all the time
I’se been a-climbin’ on,
And reachin’ landin’s,
And turnin’ corners,
And sometimes goin’ in the dark
Where there ain’t been no light.
So boy, don’t you turn back.
Don’t you set down on the steps
’Cause you finds it’s kinder hard.
Don’t you fall now—
For I’se still goin’, honey,
I’se still climbin’,
And life for me ain’t been no crystal stair.

John Milton’s “On His Blindness”

It’s been a long while since I last posted to this blog, but my son Daniel is memorizing a sonnet that well-deserves mention, attention, and meditation. Most probably aren’t aware this poem even exists, and those who do have perhaps forgotten its weightiness. It is one of the most famous sonnets of Milton, who lived from 1609-1674, and went completely blind by 1655. Most scholars believe this poem was composed at some point during that year.

When I consider how my light is spent
Ere half my days in this dark world and wide,
And that one talent which is death to hide
Lodg’d with me useless, though my soul more bent
To serve therewith my Maker, and present
My true account, lest he returning chide,
“Doth God exact day-labour, light denied?”
I fondly ask. But Patience, to prevent
That murmur, soon replies: “God doth not need
Either man’s work or his own gifts: who best
Bear his mild yoke, they serve him best. His state
Is kingly; thousands at his bidding speed
And post o’er land and ocean without rest:
They also serve who only stand and wait.”

How important it is to remember that God does not need our work, or the gifts he has given us; that they who bear the yoke are the ones who “serve him best”; and that it is not only those who are active for the Lord who serve Him –  “they also serve who only stand and wait.”

What trial has he sent into your life, that seemingly has incapacitated you for the service you desire to render unto your heavenly King? Cease murmuring, and wait on Him; endure your hardship with patience and perseverance; don’t see yourself as useless to your Master, but as graciously given another use, another purpose on this earth. And even if it is only waiting on Him, seeking His face, never to serve actively again, do not forget these words: “They also serve who only stand and wait.”



Ode to a Crockpot (Landon Vick)

Landon Vick, my friend from Cookeville, TN, recently wrote this eloquent elegy for his crockpot. The washing machine my mom and grandparents gave us as a wedding present kicked the bucket this month (on our 14th anniversary!), so this poem hit close to the heart. If you’ve ever had to say goodby to a beloved appliance, you will love this. Landon, Tim Hawkins has nothing on you!

Ode To Crockpot

Goodbye Crockpot,
You will be missed,
We will not forget you,
I promise you this.

You were a gift,
11 years ago now,
Shining, shimmering, bright and new,
As Kandice and I took the wedding vow.

Our beginnings were humble
To say the least,
Beans, soups, chili’s, and stews,
You truly helped us feast.

As we grew together
Exploring new frontiers,
Apple cider, yogurt, barbecue,
You, you crockpot, were without fear.

For hours upon hours you
Would faithfully heat,
Anything we threw at you,
It’s an amazing feat.

I’m sorry for the times,
I neglected your setting,
Choosing keep warm instead of high,
Or just plain forgetting.

We cried the day,
Your handle broke,
I repaired you with duck tape,
But it was a deadly stroke.

We knew the day would come,
We knew it might be within reach,
When we would go to buy,
A new Hamilton Beach.

That day has come,
It’s already here,
Your time with us is through,
But one thing is clear.

When I open the door,
From a long day away,
And smell the wonders,
Of a crockpot cooking all day.

It will be you, you crockpot,
That I will ever cherish,
Your memory, oh crockpot,
It will never perish.

John Donne’s “No Man is an Island”

I have heard and used the phrase “No man is an island” often, but I don’t think I realized until today that it comes from a John Donne poem by the same name. (The poem also happens to be the source of one of Ernest Hemingway’s titles.)

No man is an island,
Entire of itself,
Every man is a piece of the continent,
A part of the main.
If a clod be washed away by the sea,
Europe is the less.
As well as if a promontory were.
As well as if a manor of thy friend’s
Or of thine own were:
Any man’s death diminishes me,
Because I am involved in mankind,
And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls;
It tolls for thee.

Donne reminds us that as humans we are connected to one another. This is not only true of us as humans, however – I would suggest it is even more true of us as Christians. We all share a common humanity, but believers share a common Father, a common Savior, a common faith and a common destiny. We are one body, writes Paul in I Corinthians 12; “if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it” (I Cor. 12:26). So the next time you pull to the side of the road as a funeral procession passes (one of the great traditions in the South; does it happen elsewhere as well?), remember that the funeral bell “tolls for thee,” the procession is for you. And when a brother or sister in Christ die (or suffer, for that matter), grieve with those who grieve, as you would grieve your own loss. For indeed, you have lost, you have suffered – though thanks be to God, in eternity all loss and suffering will be set right and restored perpetually.

The priesthood of all believers in George Herbert’s poem “The Elixer”

One of the great truths the Reformation brought back to the Christian church was the truth of the priesthood of all believers. A key component of this doctrine is the reality that no matter what God has called you to do vocationally (as a job), you can do it to His glory. You don’t have to be a pastor or a missionary or a seminary professor to be pleasing to God and to do work that honors Him. In the words of Martin Luther, ““All Christians whatsoever really and truly belong to the religious class, and there is no difference among them except in so far as they do different work. That is St. Paul’s meaning in I Cor. 12, when he says, ‘We are all one body, yet each member hath his own work for serving others…A shoemaker, a smith, a farmer, each has his manual occupation and work; and yet, at the same time, all are eligible to act as priests and bishops. Every one of them in his occupation or handicraft ought to be useful to his fellows, and serve them in such a way that the various trades are all directed to the best advantage of the community, and promote the well-being of body and soul, just as the organs of the body serve each other.”

This poem by George Herbert, an early 17th c. Anglican priest, well reflects this glorious truth:

TEACH me, my God and King,
In all things Thee to see,
And what I do in anything,
To do it as for Thee.

Not rudely, as a beast,
To run into action ;
But still to make Thee prepossest,
And give it his perfection.

A man that looks on glass,
On it may stay his eye,
Or, if he pleaseth, through it pass,
And then the heav’n espy.

All may of Thee partake ;
Nothing can be so mean
Which with this tincture (for Thy sake)
Will not grow bright and clean.

A servant with this clause
Makes drudgery divine :
Who sweeps a room as for Thy laws,
Makes that and th’ action fine.

This is the famous stone
That turneth all to gold ;
For that which God doth touch and own
Cannot for less be told.

May the Lord enable us to do all that we do for His glory, for His sake.

If Thou But Suffer God to Guide Thee

This beautiful poem by by Georg Neumark (1621-1681), translated by Catherine Winkworth (1829-1878) so clearly expresses the confidence the believer has in trial. It’s #670 in the red Trinity hymnal if you want to sing it! A powerful song of God’s providence and grace.

1. If thou but suffer God to guide thee
And hope in Him through all thy ways,
He’ll give thee strength, whate’er betide thee,
And bear thee through the evil days.
Who trusts in God’s unchanging love
Builds on the Rock that naught can move.

2. What can these anxious cares avail thee,
These never-ceasing moans and sighs?
What can it help if thou bewail thee
O’er each dark moment as it flies?
Our cross and trials do but press
The heavier for our bitterness.

3. Only be still and wait His leisure
In cheerful hope, with heart content
To take whate’er thy Father’s pleasure
And His discerning love hath sent,
Nor doubt our inmost wants are known
To Him who chose us for His own.

4. God knows full well when times of gladness
Shall be the needful thing for thee.
When He has tried thy soul with sadness
And from all guile has found thee free,
He comes to thee all unaware
And makes thee own His loving care.

5. Nor think amid the fiery trial
That God hath cast thee off unheard,
That he whose hopes meet no denial
Must surely be of God preferred.
Time passes and much change doth bring
And sets a bound to everything.

6. All are alike before the Highest;
‘Tis easy to our God, we know,
To raise thee up, though low thou liest,
To make the rich man poor and low.
True wonders still by Him are wrought
Who setteth up and brings to naught.

7. Sing, pray, and keep His ways unswerving,
Perform thy duties faithfully,
And trust His Word, though undeserving,
Thou yet shalt find it true for thee.
God never yet forsook in need
The soul that trusted Him indeed.