“Who Sees and Sings and Wonders Why…”
Poetry doesn’t tend to agree with me. Or, more precisely, I don’t tend to agree with it. I’m too linear or dully rationalistic or unimaginative or… Too, well, something. Or, perhaps, not enough something. I so often just don’t get it. I read a poem (or, more likely, a few lines from a poem), scratch my head, struggling to decipher “the meaning” of the strange words and patterns, the unfamiliar arrangements of syllables and syntax on the page, furrow my brow, read harder, more determinedly, try, try again, and then retreat, defeated, tail between my legs, to the safety and predictability of prose. Poetry so often seems like a gleaming city I have never visited filled with sights and sounds that are destined to forever remain inaccessible to this provincial boy.
But this morning I read a poem. And the poem spoke truth and beauty to me, filled as it was with so many evocative phrases, all a hungering after the God who belongs, who binds himself to the “riven” things, the things that fall apart. The poem is called “Every Riven Thing” and is from Christian Wiman’s book of poetry by the same name.
sing his being simply by being
the thing it is:
stone and tree and sky,
man who sees and sings and wonders why
God goes. Belonging to every riven thing he’s made,
means a storm of peace.
Think of the atoms inside the stone.
Think of a man who sits alone
trying to will himself into a stillness where
God goes belonging. To every riven thing he’s made
there is given one shade
shaped exactly to the thing itself;
under a tree a darker tree;
under than man the only man to see
God goes belonging to every riven thing. He’s made
the things that bring him near,
made the mind that makes him go.
A part of what man knows,
apart from what man knows,
God goes belonging to every riven thing he’s made.