The Power of Poetry

Last Sunday we had a visiting speaker at church and he was sharing some of his story of how he came to faith at the age of seventeen. When he was about ten or eleven years of age his teacher gave his class a poem to take home and read.
The next day the boys’ responses were moans and groans… “Boring…why do we have to read this stuff?…What’s it supposed to mean?” Er, sounds rather familiar.
Honestly, sometimes I’ve wondered if I was wasting my time reading and discussing poetry, especially with my boys, who have tended to be more vocal than the girls when it comes to their likes and dislikes in this area.
Well, our visiting speaker continued with his story and I noticed one of my boys looking across at me with a grin on his face as the speaker, in a deep, rich and dramatic voice, started to recite the following poem:

The Donkey
When fishes flew and forests walked   
   And figs grew upon thorn,   
Some moment when the moon was blood   
   Then surely I was born.
With monstrous head and sickening cry
   And ears like errant wings,   
The devil’s walking parody   
   On all four-footed things.
The tattered outlaw of the earth,
   Of ancient crooked will;
Starve, scourge, deride me: I am dumb,   
   I keep my secret still.
Fools! For I also had my hour;
   One far fierce hour and sweet:   
There was a shout about my ears,
   And palms before my feet. 
 by G. K. Chesterton (1874-1936)

The speaker shared how his teacher simply talked about the poem – this creature was a freak of nature, unplanned, unwanted, weird, a parody; but he had a part in God’s purposes.
I was so excited! Here was someone who understood the power of poetry. Here he was in his sixties still feeling the power of a piece of poetry he’d heard as a boy. 

A seed was sown in his heart by a caring teacher and God worked on that seed and seven years later it bore fruit in his life.
I was so grateful that my kids heard this story. I’m so grateful that I pressed on and continued to share poetry with them even when they didn’t seem to appreciate it.
And this morning, I found a quote in one of the comments on my post on G.K. Chesterton from Mama Squirrel which I just had to put here:

“Perhaps the strongest case of all is this: that only one great English poet went mad, Cowper. And he was definitely driven mad by logic, by the ugly and alien logic of predestination. Poetry was not the disease, but the medicine; poetry partly kept him in health.” ~~ G.K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy 

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