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Waiting for the Light: A Meditative Poem for Advent
To help my friend and colleague Queen Jane Approximately decide which of my poems to submit to publications and contests, I am posting ten of my particular favorites — poems A through J (yes, I had to count off the letters on my fingers). I’d like your comments as we go along and, in particular, when all ten have appeared, your ranking. Which do you like best (10 points)? Least (1 point — I can’t bear the thought of getting Zero points)?
Like many of my poems, “Dead Stones” was inspired by the title of the Bach cantata BWV 106: “God’s Time Is the Best Time“ (“Gottes Zeit ist die allerbeste Zeit”). Bach might have had death and funerals in mind, but I have found that “God’s time” truly IS “the best time” for major passages in life. Something that would have been impossible yesterday, or would have required struggle and travail, flows easily today. You have to learn to read the signs.
It’s like, you know, the time for tulips to bloom or babies to be born; it’s generally out of our hands.
Poetry-class students: Look for alliteration, anthropomorphism (pathetic fallacy, personification), anaphora, euphony, apposition, and assonance. Describe the meter.
I’ve seen you fulminate and shake your fist
at all the monoliths and caverns met,
immovable as Jupiter from Earth —
as inhospitable and cold — assailed
in vain, in agonies of thwarted aim —
with blood and sweat and tears expended, all
for naught; in years abandoned to the joust
with still, insensate obstacles that won’t
or can’t apologize, that cast no eye
on their defiers, neither pitiful
nor hostile, lacking choice, remaining where
they fell, their tombs, finality without
a voice to mock, without a will to move
or to remain immobile, barely scarred,
unmindful of the cataracts whose birth
within the rock is just as silent, just
as still, and just as certain. These now swell
as flood surrounds and enters every rent
and pore and cavity, where steady rain,
insidiously, probes the stony faces.
Now the mountains are made low.
Now the mud begets the stream.
Now the shadow disappears.
Now the blood and sweat and tears
flow together, are redeemed.
Now the carcasses of years
sink into the brittle crust.
Now they make the barren land
generous to growth again;
now absorbing seed and spore.
Only now, and not before.