Antiquarian Anabaptist

Apologetics from an Anabaptist perspective

Tag Archives: poetry

Now in paperback

cover page

It seems a lot of people want a book they can hold in their hands rather than an e-book.  If you are one of those, we are happy to announce that my wife’s latest book is now available in paperback on Amazon.com for $10.99 US.

It is also available on amazon.co.uk and amazon.fr, but for some reason it does not show up on amazon.ca.  She is trying to find out why. I guess it’s not that big a deal, Canadians can order it from the US site; but if they go looking for it on the Canadian site they will only find the e-book version.

Chris is the pioneer in our home for self publishing; she did it all herself and now should be able to coach me through the process when I want to publish.

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Realities

‘Tis what we are, not what we seem;
‘Tis the work we do, not the dreams we dream;
Not what we have, but what we give;
Not the words we speak, but the life that we live;
Not the things we teach, but what we learn;
Not the wrong we do, but the sin we spurn;
Not the valiant deed on the King’s highway;
But the gentle deeds from day to day;
The things which help to cheer and bless,
That make the sum of our happiness.

                                                   Author Unknown

FAME, part 2

Oh think not genius, with its hallowed light,
Can break the gloom of the eternal night;
For splendid talents often lead astray
The unguarded heart, and hide the narrow way,
While the unlearned and those of low estate,
With faith’s clear eyes behold the living gate,
Whose portals open on the shoreless sea
Where time’s strong ocean meets eternity.
Across the gulf that stretches far beneath
Lies the dark valley of the shade of death –
A land of deep forgetfulness, – a shore
Which all must traverse, but return no more
To this sad earth to dissipate our dread,
And tell the mighty secrets of the dead.
Enough for us that these drear realms were trod
By heavenly footsteps, that the Son of God
Passed the dark bourne and vanquished Death, to save
The weary wanderers of life’s stormy wave.

Why then should man thus cleave to things of earth?
Daily experience proves their little worth –
Or waste those noble qualities of mind,
For wise and better purposes designed,
In pursuit of trifles, which confer
No solid pleasure on their worshipper;
Or in the search of causes that are known
And guided by Omnipotence alone?
A height his finite reason cannot reach,
And all his boasted learning fails to teach?
While the bewildering thought overwhelms his brain,
Death comes to prove his speculations vain!

Is he deserving of a better doom
Who will not raise a hope beyond the tomb?
Who, quite enamoured with his fallen state,
Clings to the world and leaves the rest to fate;
Prefers corruption to his Maker’s smile,
“And shuns the light because his deeds are vile?”
The man who feels the value of his soul,
Presses unwearied towards a higher goal;
Leaving this earth, he seeks a brighter prize,
And claims a crown immortal in the skies.
The child of pleasure may despise his aim,
And heap reproach upon the Christian’s name,
May laugh his faith, as foolishness, to scorn: –
These by the man of God are meekly borne.
His glorious hope no infidel can shake;
Her suffers calmly for his Saviour’s sake.–

The world’s poor votary seeks in vain for peace:
He cannot bid the voice of conscience cease
Its dire upbraidings; in his heartless course
He meets at every turn the fiend Remorse,
Who glares upon him with his tearless eye,
That sears his heart – but mocks its agony.
He hears that voice, amid the festive throng,
Speak in the dance and murmur in the song,
A death-bell, pealing in the midnight chime,
Whose awful tones proclaim the lapse of time,
And e’er the winged moments as they fly
Seem to proclaim – “Rash mortal, thou must die!
Soon must thou tread the path thy fathers trod,
And stand before the judgment-seat of God!”–
He hears – but seeks in pleasure’s cup to drown
The dread that weighs his ardent spirit down;
Derides the warning voice in mercy sent;
Rejects the thought of after-punishment;
In folly’s vortex wastes the spring of youth,
Nor, till death summons, owns the awful truth;
Feels it too late to calm the agonies
Remorse has kindled – and despairing, dies!

But in the breast where true religion reigns
There is a balm for all these mental pains;
A sweet contentment, felt, but undefined,
A full and free surrender of the mind
To its divine original; a trust
Which lifts to heaven the dweller of the dust.
The pilgrim, glowing with a hope divine,
Counts not the distance to the heavenly shrine;
He meets with guardian spirits on the road,
Who cheer his steps and ease his heavy load.
Serenely journeying to a better clime
He does not shudder at the lapse of time;
But calmly drinks the cup of mortal woe,
And finds that peace the world cannot bestow;
That promised joy which brightens all beneath,
And smooths his pillow on the bed of death;
That perfect love which casteth out all fear;
And wafts his spirit to a happier sphere! –

Fame is a dream – the praise of man as brief
As morning dew upon the folded leaf;
The summer sun exhales the pearly tear,
And leaves no trace of his existence there.
Seek not for immortality below,
But fix your hopes beyond this vale of woe,
That when oblivion gathers round thy sod,
A lasting record may be found with God!

[This lengthy poem comes from a book by Susanna Moodie, Enthusiasm and Other Poems,  published in 1831, the year before she and her husband came to Canada.]

FAME

[This is the first half of a poem written by Susanna Moodie]

Oh ye! who all life’s energies combine
The fadeless laurel round your brows to twine,
Pause but one moment in your brief career,
Nor seek for glory in a mortal sphere.
Can figures traced upon the shifting sand
Washed by the mighty tide, its force withstand?
Time’s stern resistless torrent onward flows,
The restless waves above your labours close,
And He who bids the bounding billows roll
Sweeps out the feeble record from the soul.

The glorious hues that flush the evening sky
Melt into night, and on her bosom die;
Through the wide fields of heaven’s immensity
The gold-tipped billows of the crimson sea
Flash on the awe-struck gazer’s dazzled sight,
The rich out-gushings from the fount of light;
Yet oft, concealed beneath that splendid form,
We find the herald of the coming storm;
The fiery spirit over half a globe
Spreads the bright tissue of his beamy robe,
And, ere the day-king veils his glowing crest,
Shrouds the dark tempest in his burning vest;
O’er earth and heaven his gorgeous banner flings,
And gilds with borrowed light his sable wings –
And those who view with rapture-lifted eyes
The short-lived pageant of the summer skies,
Behold it vanish like a fearful dream,
And death and desolation mar its beam,
So when we seek above life’s sea of tears
To raise a monument for future years.
If built on earth the fabric will decay,
Oblivion’s hand will sweep the pile away;
The proudest trophies of the mightiest mind
Fade in her grasp, nor leave a wreck behind;
She o’er earth’s ruins spreads her misty pall,
And time’s unsparing ocean swallows all;
Hope for a moment gilds the spoiler’s shroud,
As parting sunbeams tinge the lucid cloud;
The transient glory cheats the gazer’s sight;
The storm rolls on – ’tis universal night

Say did not man inherit, at his birth,
A higher promise than the things of earth;
Views more exalted than this earth can give,
And hopes that, deathless as the soul, outlive
The wreck of nature, and the common doom
That hourly sweeps her myriads to the tomb?
His mental powers, unfettered by the clod,
Soar o’er time’s gulf, and reach the throne of God.
Oh what a privilege it is to know
That death claims not the immortal soul below!
Through the dark portals of the grave upborne,
Leaving the care-worn sons of earth to mourn,
On wings of light the newborn spirit flies
To seek a home and kindred in the skies.

Oh what are earthly crowns and earthly bliss,
And pride’s delusive dreams, compared with this?
Ambition’s laurel, purchased with a flood
Of human tears and stained with kindred blood.
Once gained, converted to a crown of thorns.
Pierces the aching temples it adorns –
Not Sappho’s lyre nor Raphael’s deathless art
Can twine the olive round the bleeding heart;
In heaven alone the promised blessing lies,
And those who seek – must seek it in the skies!
Seek it through Him who, humbling human pride,
Wept o’er man’s fall, and for his ransom died;
Poured out his blood on the accursed tree,
To break the chain and set the captive free.
Heaven bowed its glory on the cross to teach
That greatness man’s lost nature could not reach.
The true humility, which stoops to rise,
And, leaving earth, claims kindred with the skies.

How many pages have been blotted o’er
With heartfelt tears, that now are read no more;
And, like the eyes that long have ceased to weep,
In dust and darkness quite forgotten sleep!
Dead to the world as if they ne’er had been
The favoured actors in one little scene.
The scene is changed – and, like their fleeting-fame,
The fickle world adores another name.
They knew the price at which its fame was bought;
The glittering bauble was not worth a thought,
Yet, Esau-like, a better birthright sold,
And for base counterfeit exchanged the gold!

Ere man presumptuously his genius boasts,
Let him reflect upon the countless hosts,
The untold myriads, of each age and clime,
That sleep forgotten in the grave of time.
What were their names? Go ask the silent sod
Their deeds – their record lives but with their God!
At every step we tread on kindred earth,
Nor know the spot that gave our fathers birth.
Oh! could we call before our wondering eyes
All that have lived – and bid the dead arise,
From the first moment the Creator spoke
The word of power, and light through darkness broke,
And see earth covered with the mighty tide
Of all who on her bosom lived and died,
What a stupendous thought would fill the soul
Could we behold life’s breathing ocean roll
Its human billows onward – and this mass
The grave has swallowed, down from Adam, pass
In one unbroken stream – the brain would reel –
Lost in immensity, would cease to feel!
Whilst living, ah, how few were known to fame!
One in a million has not left a name, –
A single token, on life’s shifting scene,
To tell to other years that such has been.
Yet man, unaided by a hope sublime,
Thinks that his puny arm can cope with time;
That his vast genius can reverse the doom,
And shed a deathless light upon his tomb;
That distant ages shall his worth admire,
And young hearts kindle at the sacred fire
Of him whose fame no envious clouds o’ercast,
Yet died forgotten and unknown at last.

Ebola

That fearsome disease,
The deaths do not cease.
Who can help when such fear
Clutches all who are near?

Disease is a curse,
Fear just makes it worse.
We flee those who would help.
Trust things that cannot help.

Thousands are dying,
Thousands are trying
To arrest the bleeding,
And stop it from spreading.

Has a cure been found?
Will it go around?
Can science stop the curse?
Or will it still get worse?

Ebola will pass.
Leave behind a mass
Of graves, sorrows, questions.
Who can tell the reason?

The sin plague remains;
All mankind it stains.
Science gives us no might
To protect from this blight.

Yet down from heaven
The cure is given;
The fountain filled with blood –
 The remedy of God.

Truth before their eyes
Is hid from the wise.
Then go to those in need,
The way of life to plead.

Though their life be drear
Don’t recoil in fear.
The word of life make plain
Live it, tell it again.

Copyright © August 16, 2014, Bob Goodnough

[I make no claim to poetic skill. My wife is the chief poet in the family, our daughter is second, though for the present her children claim her time and attention. But these thoughts came to me yesterday and seemed to make sense only in poetic format.]

What Do We Live For?

What do we live for?
Is labour so lowly,
Toil so ignoble, we shrink from its stain?
Think it not – labour
Is God-like and holy;
He that is idle is living in vain.

What do we live for?
Creation is groaning,
Her desolate places are yet to be built;
The voice of the years
Swells deeper the moaning,
As time rolls along the dark tide of guilt.

What do we live for?
The question is sounding
Low in the silence, and loud in the din,
And to each heart-ear
With warm pulses bounding,
Answers come thronging, without and within.

What do we live for?
We live to be waging
Battle, unceasing, with indwelling sin;
We live to fight on,
In conflict engaging
Temptations without, and passions within.

What do we live for?
To sow, by all waters,
Fruit-bearing seeds of deeds for all years;
To toil in the ranks
With earth’s sons and daughters,
Manfully striving with doubtings and fears.

What do we live for?
We live not to rust out,
Slothfully standing aloof from the strife;
A thousand times better,
More noble, to wear out,
Battered and burned in the hot forge of life.

-written over 100 years ago by Jennie E. Haight, a Montréal school teacher

WORDS

Every heart that throbs must know
Fountains sweet and bitter;
Either we may cause to flow,
By the words we utter.

Idle words may pierce the deep
Of the gentlest spirit, –
Waking sorrow from its sleep,
Treading roughly near it.

Words of love may lull to rest
Care, or grief, or anguish, –
Rousing hope within the breast,
Where it seemed to languish.

Then let none misuse the gift
God for use has given;
Through Him, every word may lift
Some one nearer heaven.

– John Reade, 1837-1919

THE SECOND ADVENT

In the hush of the silent midnight
Shall the cry of His coming be?
When the day of the Lord’s appearing
Shall flash over earth and sea?

Shall it be at the morning’s awaking
And the beams of the golden sun
Grow pale and be quenched forever
When his journey is just begun?

We know not, we dream not, the hour;
But we know that the time must be
When earth, with it’s clouds and shadows,
Will shrink, and tremble, and flee.

Will shrink to the deepest centre,
And render before His throne,
The Jewels the Lord will gather,
The Gems that He calls His own.

There, bright in heaven’s noonday splendour,
And robed like the dazzling snow,
The saints to their many mansions,
The chosen and blest, shall go.

And songs of angelic gladness
Be borne on celestial air
To welcome the mighty gathering,
The throng, that shall enter there.

And, oh! in that awful parting,
That day of unchanging doom,
When earth shall give up her millions,
And empty her every tomb,

May we find in the Judge a Saviour,
A Friend, whom we know and love,
And be bidden by Him to enter
The courts of His house above.

-Annie Louisa Walker Coghill (1836-1907)

A family heirloom

A little said, and truly said,
Can greater joy impart,
Than hosts of words that reach the head,
But never touch the heart.

Autograph books originated hundreds of years ago among university students in Europe.  Fellow students, and later on professional colleagues, would sign each others books, adding  well wishes or short poems.

For a period in the early 1950’s, they were a fad among elementary school students.  These students were too young to write anything sensible or of lasting value.  I believe I had two, both long ago discarded.

One of those autograph books must have been a gift from my father, as he wrote the above poem on the first page.  At the time, I found it horribly embarrassing to have others see this when they wrote in my book.  Over time that little verse became engraved on my memory, and hopefully my heart.  I consider it to be the only thing of value from those autograph books.

I have tried to discover the origin of this verse, with no success.   My father learned it from his mother, who wrote it in his autograph book many years earlier.  I would appreciate hearing from anyone who might have a clue to it’s origin, or from anyone else who has memories of meaningful things written in autograph books.

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