All for Love – Poem of the Day

Lord Byron – ‘All for Love’

O talk not to me of a name great in story;
The days of our youth are the days of our glory;
And the myrtle and ivy of sweet two-and-twenty
Are worth all your laurels, though ever so plenty.

What are garlands and crowns to the brow that is wrinkled?
‘Tis but as a dead flower with May-dew besprinkled:
Then away with all such from the head that is hoary—
What care I for the wreaths that can only give glory?

O Fame! if I e’er took delight in thy praises,
‘Twas less for the sake of thy high-sounding phrases,
Than to see the bright eyes of the dear one discover
She thought that I was not unworthy to love her.

There chiefly I sought thee, there only I found thee;
Her glance was the best of the rays that surround thee;
When it sparkled o’er aught that was bright in my story,
I knew it was love, and I felt it was glory.

I came upon this poem a couple years ago, and I find myself coming back to it.  It’s become one of my all-time favorites. The beauty and value of love and youth are so easily taken for granted, but so much more valuable than what we typically consider as “fame” or “glory.”

The further I get from my teens and early twenties, the more I appreciate those years and the love and the youth of those days. It was sometimes dramatic, sure, but it was lovely too.  I find myself so fond of those years. I wouldn’t trade them for the world.

When we are young we try our best. There is an innocence about it.  But we are indeed young, and sometimes do stupid things as a result of our youth. And as painful as that can be, there’s beauty in it.  There are valuable lessons found there.  There’s a peace in knowing that, if you could, you may do some things differently, but you can’t – what’s done is done, what’s said is said. All we can do is carry those significantly good people and places and moments with us – the ones we love- in our souls and think of them fondly and learn from them. And we can trust that, though sometimes we don’t know what we are doing, God is able to work anything out for the good if our hearts are following after Him.

When we are young we dream of achievement and success and, yes, glory.  But as Byron writes, true glory is the presence of love in your life – whatever love that may be.  A wife or daughter – brother or sister – mother or father – this love is true glory.

What care I for wreaths…?

So if you have love in your life don’t forget to bask in the glory of it all.  It’s what gets us all through.  

I knew it was love, and I felt it was glory.

Perhaps this is what Jesus meant when he told us to love others.  And I think it’s part of what makes God so glorious, because He is the source of love God first loved us – mistakes and all.  We don’t have to prove it, or earn it – just to accept it.  And that’s a truly beautiful thing.


God, Donne, & Love

I scarce believe my love to be so pure As I had thought it was…

John Donne is one of my favorite poets. His writing is so deep and rich and real.

His poem Loves Growth is one of my all-time favorites.

It’s a poem about how his love, at the beginning, wasn’t as totally pure as he thought.  Perhaps that’s true of many of us in one way or another.  How much of my love includes selfish motives? How pure is my love of my wife and my friends and my God?

Methinks I lyed all winter, when I swore my love was infinite, if spring make’d it more

When we first fall in love, we think we couldn’t be any more in love.  We think it’s infinite. Perfect.  But that’s not quite true.  The truth is, it grows.

Donne compares Love to the seasons, saying it has it’s hard Winter times, and it’s happy Spring times.  Love isn’t all elation and joy.  Even love has it’s winter times.

Real authentic Love is a complex thing that should grow and turn into something even more beautiful and grand than it was at the start. Even in the winter times, the love is real, because really it’s about the other person more than yourself.

The Christian life is the same.  We come to God broken, full of hurt and covered with scars.  We love God the best we can.  And our relationship to God has winter times too. But the longer we stay in the faith, the more we grow and heal, the more our love becomes more selfless and beautiful and grand. And the longer we stay, the more we realize that God’s love is more beautiful than anything we can imagine. 

And we know that God’s love for us will always be there.  Always remain, no matter the Winter we face, for surely no Winter shall abate the Spring’s increase…001 Photo © Gabe Lawson


For the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Deuteronomy 31:6

Love’s Growth – John Donne

I scarce believe my love to be so pure
   As I had thought it was,
   Because it doth endure
Vicissitude, and season, as the grass;
Methinks I lied all winter, when I swore
My love was infinite, if spring make’ it more.


But if medicine, love, which cures all sorrow
With more, not only be no quintessence,
But mixed of all stuffs paining soul or sense,
And of the sun his working vigor borrow,
Love’s not so pure, and abstract, as they use
To say, which have no mistress but their muse,
But as all else, being elemented too,
Love sometimes would contemplate, sometimes do.


And yet no greater, but more eminent,
   Love by the spring is grown;
   As, in the firmament,
Stars by the sun are not enlarged, but shown,
Gentle love deeds, as blossoms on a bough,
From love’s awakened root do bud out now.


If, as water stirred more circles be
Produced by one, love such additions take,
Those, like so many spheres, but one heaven make,
For they are all concentric unto thee;
And though each spring do add to love new heat,
As princes do in time of action get
New taxes, and remit them not in peace,
No winter shall abate the spring’s increase.

Poem of the Day – The Peace of Wild Things

Wendell Berry is one of my favorite poets.  One of the best artists and writers Kentucky has ever produced.  I’m loving this poem of his this morning…

When despair for the world grows in me

and I wake in the night at the least sound

in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,

I go and lie down where the wood drake

rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.

I come in to the peace of wild things

who do not tax their lives with forethought

of grief. I come into the presence of still water.

And I feel above me the day-blind stars

waiting with their light. For a time

I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

                          -The Peace of Wild Things

It reminds me of the passage in Matthew 6 where Jesus talks about how God feeds even the sparrows, and clothes even the flowers of the field.  The birds to not worry about what they will eat, and the flowers don’t worry about their clothing situation.  So why should we, being God’s treasure, worry?

It’s as if Jesus is saying, “If I can take care of all the wild things, I will take care of you.”  It’s a simple truth, but oh so hard to grasp sometimes.

Sometimes we need a lesson from the wild things to put things in perspective. Sometimes we need to rest in the grace of the world to help us understand our own place in life.

We never know what day-blind stars are out there, waiting with their light for us to see them.


photo copyright: gabe lawson

A Perfect Day

“As I say, I never feel more at home in America than at a ball game be it in a park or in a sandlot. Beyond this I know not. And dare not.”   Robert Frost  from “A Perfect Day – A Day of Prowess”


I agree, Mr. Frost.  I agree. 

Baseball, I already miss you.



Something Understood…


Every so often I come upon a poem or a paragraph or something that gives me chills – and continues to upon each subsequent reading – this poem is one of those.

I help out with the college/post-college group at my Church, which is awesome.  This fall we’re talking about prayer – what it means, how we can understand it, and how it relates to the every-day life of a Christian.  A few weeks ago i stumbled upon this poem from George Herbert – the brilliant 17th century English poet. 

His poem Prayer I captures the mystery and wonder and power that is prayer to God.  Check it below:


Prayer I – by George Herbert

PRAYER the Churches banquet, Angels age, 
        Gods breath in man returning to his birth, 
        The soul in paraphrase, heart in pilgrimage, 
The Christian plummet sounding heav’n and earth ; Engine against th’ Almightie, sinner’s towre, 
        Reversed thunder, Christ-side-piercing spear, 
        The six daies world-transposing in an houre, 
A kinde of tune, which all things heare and fear ; Softnesse, and peace, and joy, and love, and blisse, 
        Exalted Manna, gladnesse of the best, 
        Heaven in ordinarie, man well drest, 
The milkie way, the bird of Paradise,         Church-bels beyond the stars heard, the souls bloud, 
        The land of spices, something understood. 


Dr. Ben Witherington III, one of my favorite Seminary profs, wrote a particularly pertintent synopsis of this great poem – 

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George Herbert presents us with a cornucopia of images of prayer in this 
wonderful and striking poem. For one thing, he sees prayer as communion 
with God, and so as a sort of feast.

Even if we don’t get what we ask for, 
we do get what we most need, which is intimacy with God. Hebert also sees 
prayer as natural, as natural as breathing, only prayer is spiritual 
respiration, from the heart or soul, if it is at all genuine.

prayer is a sort of spiritual sacrifice offered up to God, or even more 
strikingly, a seige engine with which to assail God when one is in dire 
straits. But prayer is also seen as a way of taking the measure of God’s 
will for our lives, and so it is a way for the heart to go on pilgrimage, 
but the heart must listen for God’s answer while journeying.

The most daring 
image in the poem is the analogy drawn between prayer and the spear that 
pierced Christ’s side. The idea here is sacramental, and it is dynamic way 
of saying that prayer releases the blessing, releases the healing, releases 
all the benefits of the shed blood of Jesus. Herbert even ventures into the 
psychology of prayer, saying it is something we all hear, but also fear. 
Why fear? For the same reason a child is afraid to ask their parent for 
something, lest the reply be no, or even worse in some cases— yes! There 
is a wonderful line in the play called St. John in Exile where John on 
Patmos has just heard that the Roman commander on the island has just been 
converted, will allow John to leave the island, but would prefer him to stay 
and instruct the commander in the faith. John wrily says to God ” Oh Lord 
why do you answer my deepest prayers at the worst possible moments?”

Prayer is indeed something to fear and revere and handle carefully, since God is one who answers prayer. In the end Hebert sees prayer as something that 
produces the fruit of the Spirit in the believer– love, joy, peace, 
patience, kindness and so on. The final image of prayer as being like a peal 
of a bell ringing out clearly reminds that God is not hard of hearing, 
rather he is always listening and prepared to respond.

And that’s good news…


Heart Images – Yeats

I found another great poem this morning, again by Yeats. He’s quickly becoming one of my favorites. 


The poem is titled The Lover mourns for the Loss of Love


Pale brows, still hands and dim hair,

I had a beautiful friend

And dreamed that the old despair

Would end in love in the end:

She looked in my heart one day

And saw your image was there;

She has gone weeping away.


I love the image Yeats paints of his beautiful friend – pale brows and dim hair don’t usually get tagged as beautiful.  But he does so here.  I wonder why.


But more importantly,  this poem got me thinking about what is in my heart – about who is in my heart.  If someone looked in my heart whose face would they see?  

It sounds cheesy, but this poem makes me think of Jesus – how he longs to find himself in our hearts.  How it must hurt him when he doesn’t find his image there.  


I think Jesus is a lover who mourns the loss of love too. 


The one difference, though, is that He doesn’t go weeping away.  He stays there.  Always hoping.  Always wooing.  Always yearning to be believed and trusted and accepted and written on our hearts. 


Even now, says the Lord, return to me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning; rend your hearts, not your clothes. Return to the Lord, your God, for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, and relents from punishing.  Joel 2:12-13 (Emphasis added)


The Punch of Brevity

William Blake knew something of brevity. While he did write long stories and poems, it is his shorter ones i like most. 

I think he understood the whole “less is more” concept. 

Brevity has a certain punch to it which i really appreciate. 

Here is one of my favorites of his:


He who binds to himself a joy 

Does the winged life destroy; 

   But he who kisses joy as it flies

Lives in eternity’s sunrise.

                –Eternity by William Blake

May we live the winged life…

2011 – Back to the Stanza

Earlier this year I decided to read at least one poem every day. I used to read a lot of poetry, but have gotten out of the habit over the last couple of years. Well, I’m getting back to it. 

I heard once that it is the poets who are the guardians of language. I think this is true.  Some think poetry is fluffy and frilly and pointless.  And some of it is, to be sure.  But a lot of poetry is incredibly deep and moving and thought-provoking and powerful.  For it is one thing to write a thought or communicate a point.  But it is entirely another to craft that thought or idea into a work of art that fits together like a puzzle piece. There is a lot to learn from that.

So this year so far I have been alternating between William Blake and W.B. Yeats – two of my favorites. I thought I would post the ones that particularly stand out to me. 


Here’s one that really made me think:



I Dreamt a Dream! what can it mean?

And that I was a maiden Queen: 

Guarded by an Angel mild:

Witless woe, was ne’er beguil’d!


And I wept both night and day

And he wip’d my tears away

And I wept both day and night

And hid from him my heart’s delight.


So he took his wings and fled:

Then the morn blush’d rosy red:

I dried my tears & armed my fears,

With ten thousand shields and spears.


Soon my Angel came again; 

I was arm’d, he came in vain:

For the time of youth was fled

And gray hairs were on my head.

                 –The Angel by William Blake

John Donne – The Definition of a Wordsmith

John Donne, the  17th century English preacher and poet, is one of my favorite poets. You have to concentrate on what he is saying. You have to work a little bit to understand what he is saying. But once you do, you’re the better for it. 

The poem below is one of my all time favorites. See for yourself.



THOU hast made me, and shall Thy work decay ?
Repair me now, for now mine end doth haste ;
I run to death, and Death meets me as fast,
And all my pleasures are like yesterday.
I dare not move my dim eyes any way ;
Despair behind, and Death before doth cast
Such terror, and my feeble flesh doth waste
By sin in it, which it towards hell doth weigh.
Only Thou art above, and when towards Thee
By Thy leave I can look, I rise again ;
But our old subtle foe so tempteth me,
That not one hour myself I can sustain.
Thy grace may wing me to prevent his art
And thou like adamant draw mine iron heart.