Thursday, April 18, 2013


So I actually have a different post written and lined up for whenever I have time to get the relevant photos off the camera and upload them (tomorrow? heh). In the meantime, here's a poem that I love despite its explicit call to Jesus. Longfellow's translation is clear, forthright, yet beautiful - to me, this is his voice when he's at his best - you know, how all great poets have a particular voice even though it usually only comes through now and then. And actually, I don't think the moral of the poem is "come to Jesus"; I think it's, "don't procrastinate." But, obviously, in a less prosaic, shallow-sounding way.

Ugh, this is why talking about poetry is so hard; poems have already condensed, crystallized, cut to the core, so expounding on them always sounds banal. It's finding extra words for something that is currently pithy and effective.

The point is, I like this poem, and the last two lines particularly are what still ring with me, and what make my mind return to it regularly.


Lord, what am I, that with unceasing care
    Thou did'st seek after me, that Thou did'st wait
    Wet with unhealthy dews before my gate,
And pass the gloomy nights of winter there?
Oh, strange delusion, that I did not greet
    Thy blest approach, and oh, to heaven how lost
    If my ingratitude's unkindly frost
Has chilled the bleeding wounds upon Thy feet.
How oft my guardian angel gently cried,
    “Soul, from thy casement look, and thou shalt see
    How He persists to knock and wait for thee!”
    And oh, how often to that Voice of sorrow,
“Tomorrow we will open,” I replied,
    And when the morrow came I answered still “Tomorrow.”

Lope de Vega; H.W. Longfellow (translator)


  1. Robert Frost was asked to explain one of his poems. He responded, "You mean, you want me to say it worse?"

  2. Hahahaha. I love that! I do think some poems can stand up to a bit of discussion/exposition/context - I read The Art of the Sonnet last year or the year before, which was 100 sonnets from the 1400s to the present with accompanying 2 page essays, and I found most of the essays to be engaging and illuminating. But I think you a) have to have a knack for it; b) have to be saying something beyond just "explaining" it; and c) have to limit yourself strictly!

  3. P.S. I really do have another post lined up, but for the last two weeks I've legit had zero time! It's coming!