Monday, March 11, 2013

The Poetry of Piety

The Poetry of Piety: An Annotated Anthology of Christian Poetry by Ben Witherington III and Christopher Mead Armitage. Baker Academic, 2002.

I try to read books in various genres: fiction, non-fiction, essays, epics, plays, history, and others. I read poetry not too often. One of the books I read recently argued that poetry should be part of our reading diet. I agreed with the author and began looking for a way to incorporate reading poetry into my reading schedule. My favorite time to read is early in the morning. It is at this time I like to read the Bible, a prayer book, and from one of the Great Books of the Western Civilization. I agree with Lewis on the importance of reading the old books, books from every century. Recently, I ahve been reading from John Calvin's Institutes of the Christian Religion. 

I found The Poetry of Piety on the shelves recently. I was familiar with Ben Witherington. I have read some of his books with great profit. There are 28 chapters in Poetry of Piety. It contains poems that would be familiar to many Christians. Some of the authors included are: George Herbert, John Donne, Phyllis Wheatley, John Henry Newman, C.S. Lewis and others. Some chapters have multiple poems. There are multiple poems for John Donne, George Herbert, and Gerald Manley Hopkins. Christpher Armitage explains the structure of the poem and Witherington discusses the theological meaning of the poem.

One of my favorite poems is Newman's "Lead Kindly Light:"

Lead, kindly light, amid the encircling gloom,
Lead thou me on;
The night is dark, and I am far from home

Another one I like is "The Apologist's Prayer by C. S. Lewis:

 From all my lame defeats and oh! much more
From all the victories I seem to score;
From cleverness shot forth on thy behalf . . .
From all my proofs of thy divinity,
Thou, who wouldst give no sign, deliver me.

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