Serve the Lord in strength with what you may,
And be not fretful for another way,
The good works He assigned for you to do,
Before He said, "Light, be!" those deeds He knew.
You say, "I would do such and such for Him,
If He would open doors and show me in,
Great things I would accomplish for His fame,
If He would let me walk this rosy lane.
But in your haste to pound on bolted doors,
You waste your strength and think yourself so poor,
When all along, there stood an open stair,
But where it led, you willed not to go there.
'Tis better to descend the lowly stair,
And languish in the pit, if God be there,
For you may walk a thorny path of pain,
But if Christ leads there, you've everything to gain.
My project was inspired by Degas’ ballerinas: black ribbon chokers, colorful flowers in their hair and on their tutus. His palette is so vibrant, and I took the liberty of using my own favorite color (orange) as the primary theme.
I didn’t win the contest (the winners are quite something, though — check them out here), but I sure had fun making and designing my entry. The contest motivated me to set the creative fires burning, and it gave me a practical reason to do it (always important, I say).
Here are a few of Degas’ dancers that got my muse going.
“The Star (Dancer on Stage)”
“The Ballet Class”
“Dancer Taking a Bow (The Prima Ballerina)”
Paris has never been my dream vacation spot — I have a feeling the reality is a far cry from the Hollywood-ized, romanticized motif I see in craft stores and home decor. But if someone legit ever gave me a plane ticket and said, “You’re going to Paris,” I’m sure it would set my little heart dancing. I wouldn’t turn it down — I want to go to the Louvre.
To set foot in the heart of idyllic romanticism To experience the reality for myself, not through the rosy glass of imagination, but through my own senses — the beautiful, the common, the real. To stand before representatives of the greatest artwork of the ages, with air alone between me and them.
See the colors – the colors! – and hear the strange, fluid voices rolling into my ears. I open my wide mouth to drink it all in. Whet the wanderlust and call me away To La Ville Lumiere, Ah, Paris! A star of history’s play, What riches lie in your coffers? Let me spy on your stores Feel your pulse Taste your air.
These verses were inspired by George Herbert’s poem, “The Collar.” In my own words, I echo his same conclusion. The life of a Christian may feel like captivity at times, yet true freedom is never found in rebellion against Him.
With Herbert I would see the world abroad,
Depart this gilded cage and risk the rod,
To live, to learn, to love, to lust, to laugh,
To taste forbidden wine, its stores to quaff.
Behind the bars I hear the whispering sighs,
“Sweet, Youth! Your sun is only on the rise,
Seize up the moment, journey while there’s light,
Forsake the crippling perch; rise up! take flight!”
With flurried wings in flustered thought I beat
Against the bars – relentless, no retreat,
The door gives way and in a frenzied rage
I tumble out and down, rid of my cage.
A sudden swirl, and falling, falling. Then
Tempestuous wind claws at my wings to rend,
Now down and down I plunge, the sun goes dim,
The smoth’ring clouds like ocean waves close in.
Oh, Youth, where is your golden, guiding sun?
Beneath the clouds you’ll find no other one,
Your golden cage looked on the morning’s dawn,
Yet here in ‘freedom’s’ cloud the light is gone.
Haunting fragrance of the summer,
Come to me and fill my breath,
Linger on, perfume my slumber,
In your sweetness let me rest.
Leave your blossom cottage white,
On the soothing breezes ride,
Skipping, dancing long as night,
Kiss my face this eventide.
Seductress, she perceived herself as one,
Her cunning so unconsciously applied
To overwhelm his lesser, simple mind
With genius. Ah! a fog-free mind had she.
Secured by thoughts of Nothing she took off
To meet her object with her intellect,
(A boy so pure, so sweet, so like a child),
Inform him, yes, she’d liberate his mind.
Enlightened, she perceived herself as such,
She took no notice of his pressing kiss,
The surge instead improved her reasoning,
Sufficient, smart, and in control was she.
But then, how dare he doubt her suppleness,
She showed how independent she could be,
Then lying in the loft they kissed again,
He mumbled while her faculties grew sharp.
Alert and wise she knew herself to be,
(Alert, of course, means never noticing
When someone steals your glasses off your face),
A patronizing voice and pride had she.
But what a nerve he struck when he required
To see her peacock tail, her wooden leg,
But then she caved – he was so innocent,
Her heart had changed, he’d found her inward truth.
But then a shift. She saw herself as one
Divested of superiority,
His craftiness he consciously applied
To overcome her. Helpless, mad was she.
With leg in hand, or rather in his bag,
He vanished down the ladder, fled the barn,
Her intellect defeated by his wiles,
She watched the scene in all its irony.
Reliant she had made herself to be,
What happened? Her intelligence had failed
To see through his good country ‘Chrustian’ mask,
Dismembered, fooled, and left alone was she.
I recently re-watched the 1939 version of Beau Geste, starring Gary Cooper, Ray Milland, and Robert Preston. It became one of my favorite films the first time I saw it, and not long after, my poetry class gave me an excellent opportunity to sing the praises of the loyalty and brotherly love that the story defends. If this poem doesn’t make sense to you, I recommend you find a copy of the movie and watch it.
In disbelief, he stares with searching eyes
Past corpses leaning strangely at their posts,
And then with horror he his brother spies,
Laid low in battle by the Tuareg host.
The sight confirms the thought he fears the most,
He falls upon the well-loved form, who sleeps
In Legion garb, face silent as a ghost,
Blue eyes forever closed in death’s dark deeps.
He clasps his hand caressingly, and grieving, weeps.
Pain overcome by loyalty and love,
He shoulders now his brother’s body dear.
Below the walls, secluded from above,
He lays him on a cot, a warrior’s bier,
With Markoff at the foot, an unvoiced jeer,
Then kerosene and bedding fuel the blaze.
The flag of France, a shroud to be revered,
Conceals his flesh and blood from future gaze.
A Viking’s funeral; Last Post he staunchly plays.
I wrote this poem one morning after thinking about how ridiculous my worries really are.
When I see the rationale behind my anxiety spelled out like this, I can’t believe that I actually fall for it.
Now Your affairs are my affairs,
Of them I'll take much better care,
For surely, God, from heaven's pomp
You cannot know my deepest wants.
You're far too busy ruling nations
To notice my great deprivation
I'll lift my burden from Your hands
And carry it myself again.
Don't worry, I will manage fine,
You tend Your needs, I'll handle mine,
Oh, how dense this weight has grown,
It didn't seem so at Your throne.
No matter, I'll take smaller steps,
Release it? No! My care, my pet,
I like it better here with me,
Its outcome I can oversee.
For if I cast it back on You,
Control I will relinquish too,
And I maintain authority
By nurturing anxiety.
Toes pressing against smooth tiles,
Gathering my arms and legs together
Like a folding tripod,
The water toes first,
From my watery ground,
I stare up to watery skies,
And a watery sun undulates,
Above watery ripples;
Nothing is clear from my hydro-perspective,
Blurred and out of focus;
I start upwards
Toward the warped image of reality;
It seems a long way off and I
Wonder, Will I ever break through?
From the watery depths I behold my life
Undulating in a blur of failures and weaknesses;
The snapshot of perfection that I know
Should be reality
Out of reach,
Will I ever break through?