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Philosophy Lite: Poetry a reminder of what God has given us

June 2, 2010 at 1:02 a.m.
Updated June 4, 2010 at 1:04 a.m.


By Raymond Smith

In the area of serious thinking, the poet is akin to the philosopher.

The philosopher is a seeker after truth while the poet is one who thinks deeply about the issues of life and has a command of the English language sufficient to put his deep feelings into words. Most of us probably have these deep thoughts but have a problem putting them into words.

Several years ago, on a trip to Kansas City, I was going through a bookstore where I came across "One Hundred and One Famous Poems." I had never been interested in poetry, but for some reason, I bought the book. It turns out that the book was one of the 20 all-time best sellers in American bookstores.

Every night before I slept, I read one or more poems as I might have read the Bible. When I finished the book, I had a greater understanding of how the poet thinks and feels. (By the way, that book would make an excellent gift to a friend or loved one).

We all could profit by taking time out of every day to meditate on God's beautiful world and His plan for our lives. That needn't be any specific time, but can take place several times throughout the day. Psalms 77:12 says, "I will meditate on all your works and consider all your mighty deeds."

When Wordsworth went to the river Wye, he probably didn't expect to write a poem, but he was struck with the beauty of the place, and from that experience came "Tintern Abbey." As he writes, "And I have felt a presence that disturbs me with the joy of elevated thoughts." That day was a turning point in his life as he wrestled with his relationship with God.

While many of the nature-loving poets are obsessed with the wonders of God's world, not all are Christian. Sometimes, people of a great mind try to formulate their own religion, but their feelings betray them.

Some fine poetry has been set to music, and we have this great heritage in hundreds of Christian hymns. One hymn of praise goes like this: "O who can know the mind of God, And who dare call His name, Whose glory is the rising sun, Whose ev'ry word is flame? Who else surrounds in boundless deeps The island of the mind? Who else in clouds of silence keeps Long watch for humankind? Too high for us, O Lord, your ways, Too vast your works: through them ... We reach with trembling words of praise, To touch your garment's hem."

Not only does this poem rhyme, but also has a beautiful cadence.

Poetry speaks to our hearts, saying the most in the fewest number of words. It is a great tool to remind us of the wonderful world God has given us.

Raymond F. Smith is a deacon at Fellowship Bible Church in Victoria and President of Strong Families of Victoria

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