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“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.

God goes, belonging to every riven thing he’s made

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.

5 Comments Post a comment
  1. Yes, Ryan. Good, no great stuff from Christian Wyman. And, I highly recommend, Christian’s book, “My Bright Abyss”, which is not poetry, btw.

    February 26, 2015
    • Thank you, kindly. I’ve read My Bright Abyss. Wonderful book – one of my favourites.

      February 26, 2015
  2. Reblogged this on 2greatcommandmentpreschooler and commented:
    A favorite:

    February 26, 2015
  3. mmartha #

    Gregory of Nyssa called such as this “harmonia mundi.” (same source as below)
    “In languages of their own, the watercress, woodpecker, oak, and raccoons do a better job
    than I’m able to muster with the chanting of Psalm 104. But for a single moment at sunset we’re all gathered by the river, at Turner’s Mill in the Missouri Ozarks, sharing in the common work of praise at the end of the day. It’s what the whole of creation lives for.” –Belden Lane, Ravished by Beauty, p. 86.

    February 26, 2015
  4. mike #

    Earth’s crammed with heaven,
    And every common bush afire with God.
    But only he who sees takes off his shoes.
    The rest sit around and pluck blackberries.

    Elizabeth Barrett Browning

    February 26, 2015

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