You shall therefore lay up these words of mine in your heart and in your soul, and you shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall teach them to your children, talking of them when you are sitting in your house, and when you are walking by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates. Deuteronomy 11:18-20 ESV
I have been writing verse since my early teens, and though I wince when I read some of those overly melodramatic lines, occasionally people were willing to pay for a poem. Maybe my fascination was connected to my parents’ idea that learning poetry was an important part of an education. I recall being compelled to learn, the Charge of the Light Brigade and Tennyson’s words “Half a league half league half a league onward” still stick in my memory along side of Bible passages learned for catechism class and the lyrics to my favorite Beatles’ songs. What all of these pretty diverse sources had in common is that I remembered them.
Now this simple post is hardly an adequate place for answering the question “What exactly is the purpose of poetry” But this morning we could simply ask “What is God’s purpose for poetry?” Interestingly the Bible verse today talks about a parents’ job of teaching God’s words to their children. Poetry is one of God’s ways of passing along the story of His love so that they will remember. Think of the scene from the Last Supper as Jesus was breaking the bread and blessing the cup. He said, “Do this in remembrance of me.” and then they sang a hymn (A poem from the book of Psalms.) God often uses the poetic form so that we will not only hear Him but then also remember what He has said for the rest of our lives. Of course the Old Testament book of Psalms is well known as poetry but even the gospels are filled with poetry like, The Beatitudes, The Lord’s Prayer and the song of Mary.
So since we believe that God has called us to write a bit of verse it will helps us immensely to begin with His purpose and that is that He wants people to hear and remember Him! We need to keep things plain, simple and yet attractive. Just consider how all the obscure and sometimes strange modern forms of poetry pale in comparison to one simple childhood poem in terms of impact.
Twinkle twinkle little star How I wonder what you are Up above the world so high like a diamond in the sky
This anonymous work which is hardly even considered “Real Poetry” tells us about the wonder of childhood in just two lines. Simplicity married to meaning makes a great poem even if no other poets like it. Poetry isn’t meant just for poets, it is meant for everyone. So if we want to pass along to the children of the next generation the great wonder of the love of Jesus let’s keep it simple. In the most ordinary of things there is beauty and a song in even the smallest puff of wind.
In the rustling grass I hear Him pass He speaks to me everywhere
Have a blessed day! Pass along the love of God to at least one person if not with words then with the poetry of your day lived for Him.