Posted by: Sherry Goodwin | January 28, 2009

Making Poetry.

LITTLE  one, what are you doing,
   Sitting on the window-seat?
Laughing to yourself, and writing,
Some right merry thought inditing,
   Balancing with swinging feet.

”Tis some poetry I’m making,
   Though I never tried before:
Four whole lines!  I’ll read them to you.
Do you think them funny, do you?
   Shall I try to make some more?

‘I should like to be a poet,
   Writing verses every day;
Then to you I’d always bring them,
You should make a tune and sing them;
   ‘Twould be pleasanter than play.’

Think you, darling, nought is needed
   But the paper and the ink,
And a pen to trace so lightly,
While the eye is beaming brightly,
   All the pretty things we think?

There’s a secret,–can you trust me?
    Do not ask me what it is;
Perhaps some day you too will know it,
If you live to be a poet,
   All its agony and bliss.

Poetry is not a trifle,
   Lightly thought and lightly made;
Not a fair and scentless flower,
Gaily cultured for an hour,
   Then as gaily left to fade.

‘Tis not stringing rhymes together 
   In a pleasant true accord;
Not the music of the metre,
Not the happy fancies, sweeter
   Than a flower-bell, honey-stored.

‘Tis the essence of existence,
   Rarely rising to the light;
And the songs that echo longest,
Deepest, fullest, truest, strongest,
   With your life-blood you will write.

With your life-blood!  None will know it,
   You will never tell them how.
Smile!  and they will never guess it:
Laugh!  and you will not confess it
   By your paler cheek and brow.

There must be the tightest tension
   Ere the tone be full and true;
Shallow lakelets of emotion
Are not like the spirit-ocean,
   Which reflects the purest blue.

Every lesson you shall utter,
   If the charge indeed be yours,
First is gained by earnest learning,
Carved in letters deep and burning
   On a heart that long endures.

Day by day that wondrous tablet
   Your life-poem shall receive,
By the hand of Joy or Sorrow;
But the pen can never borrow
   Half the records that they leave.

You will only give a transcript,
   Of a life-line here and there–
Only just a spray-wreath springing
From the hidden depths, and flinging
   Broken rainbows on the air.

Still, if you but copy truly,
   ‘Twill be poetry indeed,
Echoing many a heart’s vibration,
Rather love than admiration
   Earning as your priceless meed.

Will you seek it?  Will you brave it?
    ‘Tis a strange and solemn thing,
Learning long before your teaching,
Listening long before your preaching,
   Suffering before you sing.

Frances Ridley Havergal from LIFE MOSAIC



  1. Lies silent now the poet
    Whose words have been much blessed
    To those may be ignorant
    Of how she was distressed.
    Yet she rejoiced in Jesus,
    Who helped her every day;
    He blessed her in her trials
    Far more than words can say.

    Deep thought and deep experience
    Are part of God’s planned way;
    And through the darkest hours
    We’re led unto the day.
    But trials of faith are useful
    To the Craftsman’s careful hand,
    To make our faith grow stronger.
    Enabling us to stand.

    And sometimes when we’ve struggled
    And puzzled “Why is this?”,
    We’ve asked the Lord to show us
    Why the pain outweighs the bliss.
    And sometimes He is gracious
    To show how we may,
    By word or life, tell others
    Of Jesus and the way.

    His grace is aye sufficient,
    And always He is kind;
    E’en though the way is arduous
    And often hard to find.
    He’s promised to be with us, though,
    Through flood and fire and flame –
    And soon we’ll be with Jesus
    Forevermore the same

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