In no particular order, my top ten favorite poems:
1: The Swing by Robert Louis Stevenson
2: Shakespeare’s Sonnet #116 (Anne Shirley-like, I think this is one of THE most unromantic names I have ever seen in my life.)
3: Merry Inn Song from Fellowship of the Ring by J.R.R. Tolkien
4: The Road Goes Ever On and On by J.R.R. Tolkien
5: The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost.
6: Wynken, Blynken, and Nod by Eugene Field
7: The quality of mercy is not strained… Portia’s monologue in Shakespeare’s “The Merchant of Venice”.
8: The Weaver by Grant Colfax Tullar
9: Excuse This House, Author Unknown. This one, in particular, has brought a smile to my face on “those” days. It’s simple, but true.
10: Psalm 57.
Have mercy on me, O God, have mercy on me,
for in you my soul takes refuge.
I will take refuge in the shadow of your wings
until the disaster has passed.
I cry out to God Most High,
to God, who fulfills his purpose for me.
He sends from heaven and saves me,
rebuking those who hotly pursue me; Selah
God sends his love and his faithfulness.
I am in the midst of lions;
I lie among ravenous beasts– men whose teeth are spears and arrows,
whose tongues are sharp swords.
Be exalted, O God, above the heavens;
let your glory be over all the earth.
They spread a net for my feet– I was bowed down in distress.
They dug a pit in my path– but they have fallen into it themselves. Selah
My heart is steadfast, O God, my heart is steadfast;
I will sing and make music.
Awake, my soul! Awake, harp and lyre!
I will awaken the dawn.
I will praise you, O Lord, among the nations;
I will sing of you among the peoples.
For great is your love, reaching to the heavens;
your faithfulness reaches to the skies.
Be exalted, O God, above the heavens; let your glory be over all the earth.
This is something the Lord gave me many years ago, when I was in “the midst of lions” of one kind or another. As a teenager, everything has potential to be a “lion”. I don’t even remember what the problem was at the time, but this is what I came away with: God is a big boy, and can handle my emotions. He doesn’t chastise me for my anger and self-pity. He reaches down, comforts me, and comes to my defense.
Especially when I choose to worship, despite my outward circumstances or inward emotions. David’s voice in this Psalm is so “schizo”, like mine often is. In one line, he is scared out of his mind, hiding from King Saul’s men, who are hell-bent on his destruction. The next line, he is praising God from that same place of agony and fear. This Psalm taught me that I don’t need much in order to give God the worship he deserves. Agony, anger, and confusion can still be present. I choose to worship God because he is worthy, not because I have a clean conscience, or because I feel warm and fuzzy.
And God will take it all. Every last breath of worship I offer is like incense to him – a pleasing fragrance, and a source of glorious joy for him. It shows him that I trust him. It says to God “I don’t care what is going on in my life. I know you are in control, and I can be content.”
This was an epiphany for me.
Now, when I’m in church, barely registering the lyrics I want so badly to feel as well as sing, because of the weight of my week, I remember this Psalm, and smile, knowing that though my gift is imperfect, it is received perfectly, in grace.
There you go. My top 10 poems. Thanks, Jenni, for hosting this loverly meme. 🙂 I enjoy it so!
Since I need to play catch-up with as many classics as I can get my hands on, are there any poets I should start with?