Friday, February 23, 2018
Poems of Faith by Bob Blaisdell
The priceless gift of life is love,
For with the help of God above
Love can change the human race
And make this world a better place
For love dissolves all hate and fear
And makes our vision bright and clear
So we can see and rise above
Our pettiness on wings of love.
You'll find nothing of that kind in Poems of Faith, edited by Bob Blaisdell. He has deftly chosen solid poems about faith by the best authors of the last 400 years. Some were familiar to me (Robert Herrick, Francis Quarles, George Herbert) and others were discoveries (Christopher Harvey, John Day, etc.) Most of them reveal a deep longing for God in their writings.
Quarles (1592-1644) beautifully describes his heart as Like to An Arctic Needle, concluding that Christ is his true North. Christina Rossetti affirms her helplessness apart from Christ in None Other Lamb. And John Newton reminds us of the irony of the cross when he writes:
Thus, while his death my sin displays
In all it's blackest hue
(Such is the mystery of grace),
It seals my pardon too.
A few poems go on for several pages and will be off-putting to our present (attention span-deficient) generation. The old-fashioned language may be a struggle unless, like me, you had the privilege of hearing King James English as a child. Nevertheless, Blaisdell's book is a good introduction to some of the best devotional poetry in the English language. If you enjoy it, you may want to go to the next level with these lengthier, even meatier tomes: The Oxford Book of Christian Verse (1940 version) and The One Year Book of Poetry. (The latter is surprisingly cheap for a used copy.)