If you should stray from God, still let me cling
to Him, and not your form, in which He crouched
awhile—and so disguised, commenced to sing
uplifting carols through your pliant mouth.
When I’ve observed your kindly, beaming face
lend music to a more-than-mortal bliss,
I’ve marveled, and supposed such wholesome grace
must spring from inner stores of holiness.
But other times, you’ve croaked a clanging note,
rattling every hapless wretch around—
and then I’ve wished a cat would catch your throat:
for how could Heaven’s choirboy belt such sound?
Yes, earthly mouths may sing of God or Hell—
You’ve merely sung all scores, and sung them well.
This is a very powerful poem (and a little convicting, to be honest). I love the images of God “crouching” and speaking through human lips— “pressing lilting lyrics through your mouth.” The illusion of “inner stores of holiness” and “more-than-mortal bliss” is perfectly put. The enjambments on “To Him,” “A while,” and “And marveled” are very nice. I only have one suggestion: The occurrences of “sang” in the last line should be “sung.”
Kevin, thanks so much for your substantive, sensitive, and supportive comments! I wrote this poem about twenty years ago, and looking back at it again today, honestly, I see areas where I’d like to take the edges off its archaisms. Not that I’ve become a zealot about such things, but gradually I’ve become a bit better at conveying some of the lyricism of older styles in a more contemporary voice. Of course, the enjambments you mention would stay—there’s nothing old-fashioned-feeling about those!
I do think back on this poem often as new situations in life remind me of it. 😄But if the poem convicts, it also exalts, right?—since it presents both extremes in one person. I’m sure almost all of us could find something of ourselves in both aspects of this poem.
You’re absolutely right about “sang”—thank you for pointing that out 😯, and I’ve made the edit. (I’d also like to add a couple of spaces after the title—I don’t know how those disappeared, but WordPress doesn’t seem to be saving that edit. Also, like many of my other older posts, this one still needs to be changed manually to WordPress’ new “verse block,” a more appropriate formatting for poems, as it doesn’t force spaces between each line. However, I’ve run into a glitch with this and am still awaiting its resolution. As a result of this glitch, some of the poems on this blog are now not in the order I’d intended them. I just feel a need to mention these formatting issues because they make me cringe.)