Integrity

The Guideposts senior editor shares poems about a life of honesty.


Posted in

Here’s a poem I came across:

“First Leaf” by Lia Purpura

That yellow
was a falling off,
a fall
for once I saw
coming—
it could
in its stillness
still be turned from,
it was not
yet ferocious,
its hold drew me,
was a shiny switchplate
in the otherwise dark,
rash, ongoing green,
a green so hungry
for light and air that
part gave up,
went alone,
chose to leave,
and by choosing
embellishment
got seen.

It reminded me of this poem:

“l(a” by e. e. cummings

l(a

le
af
fa

ll

s)
one
l

iness

Which reminded me of George Herbert, a seventeenth-century devotional poet, some of whose poems look like this:

"Easter Wings"

Lord, who createdst man in wealth and store,
        Though foolishly he lost the same,
                Decaying more and more
                        Till he became
                            Most poor:
                          O let me rise
                 As larks, harmoniously
           And sing this day thy victories:
  Then shall the fall further the flight in me.

       My tender age in sorrow did begin;
      And still with sicknesses and shame
              Thou didst so punish sin,
                     That I became
                         Most thin.
                         With thee
                     Let me combine,
            And feel this day thy victory;
           For, if I imp my wing on thine,
   Affliction shall advance the flight in me.

I used to dislike poems like these. I thought they were silly, too obvious. Now I like them. I study them. Maybe it’s because, now older, a parent, now taking faith seriously, I know how hard it is to match form with function, to live a life that looks like these poems. A life of integrity. Is there anything harder, or more necessary, in the life of faith?

Jim Hinch is a senior editor at GUIDEPOSTS. Reach him at [email protected].
 

Related Videos

View Comments