Saturday, October 11, 2008

Poetry?

Yes, you read that right. Poetry. In High School I absolutely hated poetry. I just couldn't get it. Meter? Rhyme scheme? Iambic pentameter? And I couldn't see how everything that we were reading was supposed to be referring to sex.

Once I got to college and finally gave in to the inevitable destiny that I would major in English (in spite of futilely working through High School to avoid even having to take an English class in college) poetry finally began to click. I think it was in my second or third survey class - an English Literature survey - that it dawned on me that meter seemed contrived because it was. And it finally occurred to me that everything was iambic pentameter unless it wasn't.

These were great revelations. But then I discovered why they even mattered at all. The whole point of drawing the little accents and slashes on a poem was to force you to read it in a detached enough manner for your subconscious mind to begin to churn on the words and images of the poem. The revelations received while doing this to poems such as Xanadu were shocking enough to inspire me to blush. It really WAS about sex!

I think one of the things that really helped me to grasp poetry in general was music. I had taken up guitar in college and had turned my hand to writing some songs. Lyrics have a meter to them. The beauty of music, though, is that you can cheat. You can stretch things out and get more syllables out of a word than are really there. But this was the thing that opened the world of poetry to me.

Since then I have written many songs, and I like to think that my meter and rhyme has gotten much better and more sophisticated. The truth of that opinion remains to be seen, but at least my newer songs are much better than the earlier ones.

One form that had always eluded me was the sonnet. I had tried many times when enamored of some young lady to pen a sonnet, but the constraints of meter and rhyme scheme foiled me every time. (Perhaps the Lord was keeping me from wasting creative energy and praise on someone who was unworthy?) However, recently I finally triumphed over the sonnet.

Alas, you will not be allowed to read the first two that I have written - at least not for a while. They are, shall we say, private. But I have written several others that I do not mind sharing - and don't worry; they're not about sex. These are sonnets that I have written to God. I hope that you will enjoy them. As I write additional ones I will probably post them here. I also welcome suggestions from those of you with literary experience on things that I may do to make these poems better.

Here is the first (actually Sonnet 3):

A Sonnet To My King
By Jonathan D. Eller

Thy grievous wounds received for my defense
Hath paid in full my fearsome debt to Thee,
As age and wisdom show my full offense
And conscience aches rememb’ring my folly.
On what ground can I claim so dear a gift?
For righteousness or goodness on my part?
Nay on my own I’m naught but dust to sift
And bear the blame for my contrary heart.
“But God…” what words with joyous rapture filled,
Hath loved me and hath sent His only Son!
In shocking love His precious blood was spilled
And raised to life that death may be undone.
O glorious Captain, Savior, Lord, and King,
My life is Thine. I give Thee everything.

September 26, 2008


Here is the second (Sonnet 4):

Homecoming: A Sonnet to My King
By Jonathan D. Eller

When breath is gone and mortal life is done
How precious will that moment be to Thee,
As spent and bruised my finished race is run,
Collapsing in Your arms in victory.
But crowns and garlands I do not deserve,
For truly it was Christ who bore me through.
In spite of flimsy flesh and failing nerve
Your Spirit worked within to make me new!
At times I wondered if the cost so dear
Against my flesh were truly worth the prize.
Yet now beholding You suddenly near
Hath destroyed doubt and caused my joy to rise!
From here the trials were transient, short and light.
My joy is full as faith gives way to sight!

September 26, 2008


And here is my most recent (Sonnet 6):

Atonement - A Sonnet to My King
By Jonathan D. Eller

The Master summons me. What shall I do?
For I am in no state to meet the King.
‘Cause I am marred by sin without and through,
And next to Him I’m such a filthy thing.
My sins are numerous as ocean sands:
For other lords I’ve served in vanity,
And bowed myself to gods made by my hands;
I’ve stolen, lied, and despised family;
I’ve blasphemed, hated, been consumed by greed;
I’ve lusted after women not my wife;
And Sabbaths have I worked to meet my need.
A sinner I have been for all my life.
The Master shakes His head and calls again.
"The Lamb has made atonement for your sin."

October 11, 2008


So there you have it. Hopefully, I'll get better at these too!

6 comments:

The Learner said...

Beautiful Jonathan! Reminds me of Psalm 130 and one of my favorite verses:

If you, O Lord,kept a record of sins, O Lord, who could stand?

Jonathan said...

Thank you. Which one reminds you of Psalm 130? The last one?

A friend said...

What lovely and inspired writings...The 'Homecoming' is especially poignant.

And here I thought prose writing was your forte and you'd never learn to appreciate a good poem. Just goes to show how we all change as we grow - both in years and spirit, and always for the best if we strive hard enough and channel our energy to the positive passions of life - whether to our God or to our fellow (wo)man.

Me thinks if you HAD written sonnets as inspired and full of passion for a 'deserving' lady, they might have gotten you in some trouble...well, maybe not TROUBLE, exactly, but you know what I mean... ;)

Jonathan said...

Thank you so much!

I think that Homecoming is my favorite of the three.

I am a man of many talents! And I enjoy poetry, I just rarely take the time to read poetry because it is so much work. My favorite poet is probably George Herbert. And my favorite poem is The Collar by the same. I intend to have the last couple lines of it inscribed on my tombstone one day, "But as I rav’d and grew more fierce and wilde At every word,
Me thoughts I heard one calling, Childe:
And I reply’d, My Lord."

Perhaps one day I will find out if the other sonnets that I have written will be as efficacious as you suggest! But I don't think the time is right just yet to share them. I'll let you know how it goes if and when that time comes!

The Learner said...

Hi Jonathan,

Yes, The last one.

Jonathan said...

Thanks. Hi back.