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Earth Day 2024

The St. John’s Episcopal Church choir will sing this anthem on Sunday April 21st, the day before Earth Day. The tune is ‘Blaenwern’ written by William Penfro Rowlands in 1905.

Here is the text.

Wheel of Water

For God’s Creation

Grass emerges from the winter snow.
Blades lengthen. Flowers grow.
Trees in the wind sway and sough.
The summer of life is all we know.
Autumn breezes start to blow
and all of life begins to slow.
Brown turf is snuffed in snow.
Life and death come and go.

Clouds roll in over the plain
releasing countless drops of rain.
Water flows in the seaward drain
only to rise once again.
The wheel of water is an endless chain,
an infinite loop of wax and wane.
The land upholds loss and gain,
but land itself cannot sustain.

Dust is scattered, dust restored.
Not even the land can say: Never!
For children of light who love the Lord,
the wheel of water is a passing pleasure.
We praise creation with one accord
and promise to save this tender treasure.
The children of light love the Lord
and the love of the Lord lasts forever.

April 12, 2024

Poetry for St. John’s Church

As many of you know, I have been writing poetry for the liturgical calendar four out of the last five years. I have reached the point where (a) the Sunday lessons are so familiar to me now that it is difficult to come up with fresh insights and (b) I want to steer my poetic imagination in new directions.

The final poem in my liturgical writings appeared last Friday. You can read the best of my liturgical poems on this website. Please click the Poetry Stream tab at the top of the page.

What new directions?

I begin each morning by reading the writings of Fr. Richard Rohr and his colleagues at the Center for Action and Contemplation. These meditations are a powerful source of inspiration for me. I am responding with my own poetry.

The website for CAC meditations is meditations@cac.org.

Another direction is the St. John’s choir led by Janice Halvorson. I am writing lyrics for choir music and Janice is helping me set the words to music.

Thanks to all of you who have encouraged me in my writing.

November 29, 2023

My Audience

Most of my extended family and most of my acquaintances claim they don’t read poetry because they don’t understand what they are reading. This is my theory: Poetry submitted to literary journals is intended for journal editors, critics, and academics. Not the public. This can be very off-putting. It is no wonder ordinary people don’t like and don’t read poetry.

I try to write about serious subjects using pleasing language that is understandable by the general public.

Now, considering the ideas I addressed in the previous post (please read it!), if people read your poem and fail to understand what you are trying to say, then your poem is a failure. End of story. And if the reader fails to understand, there won’t be any consideration of the quality of the poem or the significance of the subject.

April 16, 2023

What Is A Great Poem?

OK, I am going to put my critic hat on for this one. When I read a poem, here is how I judge it.

First, do I even understand what the poet is trying to say? Even after reading it three or four times? If the answer is No, the poet failed to achieve his or her central purpose in writing the poem. It may make perfect sense to the poet. But if others cannot discern the meaning, it is simply a failure to communicate.

If this first step doesn’t work, the next two steps are irrelevant. The next two steps have to do with evaluating a poem.

Second, how fully has the poet’s purpose been accomplished? If I, the reader, get the meaning of the poem—the purpose of the poem—and the poem is technically brilliant, that is the sign of a GOOD poem. On the other hand, if I understand the poem, but don’t believe the poem is well written, it is not a good poem, in my opinion. Perhaps it could become a good poem with more editing.

Third, how important is the purpose of the poem? If (a) I fully understand the poem, (b) I think it is technically brilliant, and (c) I consider the poem to have an important purpose, then I would consider it to be a GREAT poem.

April 15, 2023