Thursday, October 20, 2011

On Words

I found a new poem today - "Table Talk".  Of course, its name caught my eye and when I read it - it now ranks with my favorite of Cowper's- God Moves in a Mysterious Way.

Much of it was wittingly scathing in regards to poetry - a fifteen page poem - it read like three. Amazing.
Some of my favorite line sets:

Virtue indeed meets many a rhyming friend,
And many a compliment politely penn'd;
But, unattired in that becoming vest
Religion weaves for her, and half undress'd,
Stands in the desert shivering and forlorn,
A wintry figure, like a wither'd thorn.
The shelves are full, all other themes are sped;
Hackney'd and worn to the last flimsy thred.

The gift, whose office is the Giver's praise,
To trace him in his word, his works, his ways!
Then spread the rich discovery, and invite
Mankind to share in the divine delight.
Distorted from its use and just design,
To make the pitiful possessor shine,
To purchase at the fool-frequented fair
Of vanity a wreath for self to wear,
Is profanation of the basest kind-
Proof of a trifling and a worthless mind.

'Twould thin the ranks of the poetic tribe,
To dash the pen through all that you proscribe.
No matter-we could shift when they were not;
And should, no doubt, if they were all forgot.

Cowper's wit and words are like barbed velvet.  They entrance and convict me at the same time.

But alas, my all time favorite of lines, unlikely ever to be usurped...

He plants His footsteps in the sea,
And rides upon the storm.

Ye fearful saints, fresh courage take,
The clouds ye so much dread
Are big with mercy, and shall break
In blessing on your head.

Judge not the Lord in feeble sense,
But trust Him for His grace;
Behind a frowning providence
He hides a smiling face.

A solid reminder in days of trouble...maybe he was reading Psalm 46

God is our refuge and our strength,
   a very present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way,
  though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea,
  though its waters roar and foam,
  though the mountains tremble at its swelling.
There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
   the holy habitation of the Most High.
God is in the midst of her,
    she shall not be moved;
God will help her when morning dawns.
The nations rage, the kingdoms totter;
   he utters his voice and the earth melts.
The Lord of Hosts is with us: 
The God of Jacob is our fortress.
Come, behold the works of the Lord,
   how he has brought desolations on the earth.
He makes war cease to the end of the earth;
   he breaks the bow and shatters the spear;
   he burns the chariot with fire.

Be still ...

1 comment:

Trisha said...

Are you in my head, dear Jo? :) I love Cowper... and just printed out Peace After the Storm. My children are now memorizing Grace and Providence.

"Ye fearful saints, fresh courage take,
The clouds ye so much dread
Are big with mercy, and shall break
In blessing on your head."

I'm sitting here weeping at these words. Oh, how gracious God has been in keeping the fear away and giving me courage and mercy.

Thank you for the blessing you are to me.