Thursday, June 11, 2009

A Poem from Way Back When

...back when I actually tried to write poetry. I put my pen down one day and never have even tried to pick it back up. I'm surprised I don't miss it-- it used to be SO MUCH a part of how I processed thoughts and made sense of the world. Anyway, this came out of WB Yeats poem "Adam's Curse," as well as the book Celebrating the Sabbath, which explains how the 4th command brings ALL work under the Lordship of God: "Six days you SHALL LABOR and do all your work." There are also references to Isaiah in it. I hadn't read this poem in quite a while, so... here it is. :)

"Marked Out By the Hands"

(places that are still in question in italics)
Calloused hands between my own--
Young, strong athletic hands—
Ready to go and conquer or find—
A hundred or more perfect plans.
Yet hidden in a pocket, they
Twist and clench as if to say
"I'm sorry that I'm work-worn,
I'm sorry that I'm rough.
I spend my days a wagèd slave
I know it's not enough."

A Voice rang out o'er dew-pearled grass
"You work it—till it—love."
And the First Man leapt to tend it,
That Garden from above.
And though he would with anguish tell
Of the day he and our Mother fell,
His sons to now are still marked out—
"The Image-bearing band"—
By the marks of work and labor;
By the callous on your hand.

Yet let your labor be distinct,
Not meaningless or vain.
For with a Purpose Adam's Son
Came [and toiled] to reverse the Shame.
Let the song upon your smile say
"I walk and work a better way."
Of old, the prophet told us,
A man would mark his hand:
Not as a pagan calls his god,
But "Yahweh's"—a grain of Sand.

There is no shame in labor done
For the Joy before our heart—
The Seventh Sanctified Sunrises
Make holy every honest art.
Live and work, in our today,
As a re-molded work of clay:
You're marked as bound for glory,
As a stranger in the land
Of the very soil you till at—
By the name carved on His Hand.

Life itself has rough-housed by.
The wrinkled hands I hold
Have caught and clenched their share of it,
Then freely beshowered their gold.
Beckoning now, wide open, they
Embrace and call as if to say
"I learned that life is toil and sweat—
I learned that work is good.
I followed the Carpenter who died [marked His hands]
Upon the Sacred Wood."

Written 12/13/05 (my junior year at Furman!!)

1 comment:

Wakenda said...

Didn't know you were an aspiring poet? We should share some pieces next time we're together.

Professor Taylor (Henry Taylor if interested in looking him up)used to tell me that the best way to improve my poetry was to pick the line I was most proud of and get rid of it. Sounds random, but if you do that and work from there it's amazing how much better other parts shine. You can always put it back afterward, but I often found that I had strengthened the rest of my work to the point of not needing just one line/verse/canto/etc. to shine alone anymore. Don't know if that will help with those italic parts or not. ;-)