The 6th poem in my corona on the psalms

flinging them back before his growing light

Today’s poem from my new sequence is a response to Psalm 6 from the Book of Common Prayer Psalter. Here are links to the earlier poems in this series: V  III and IV  II I

This is one of the darker psalms, and the psalmist seems at once fearful of God and forgetful of his mercy, so it opens:

  1. O LORD, rebuke me not in thine indignation: neither chasten me in thy displeasure.
  2. Have mercy upon me, O Lord, for I am weak: O Lord, heal me, for my bones are vexed

But the psalmist works through these fears and misgivings and is able to say just before the end of the psalm:

The Lord hath heard my petition: the Lord will receive my prayer.

It is this honesty about difficulty, fear and misgiving which makes the psalter so compelling and gives its moments of joy and recovery their full force and authority. In my own response to this psalm I picked up a phrase from verse 5 that ‘in death no man remembreth thee’ and used it to explore the kind of forgetfulness and amnesia that sometimes darkens our spiritual life. One function both of scripture and of poetry is to re-awaken our good memories of God. You may like to look at the psalm alongside the poem. As always you can hear me read the poem by clicking on the ‘play’ button or the title.

VI Domine, ne in furore

Whose mercy wakes me at the break of day?

I feel my weakness, all my bones are vexed

And all the faith in me seems worn away

 

As though I’ve lost Love’s memory. Perplexed

By false complexities, I mime faith’s part

I keep the book but cannot read the text

 

Unless you come, and write it in my heart,

Unless you help me read it through my tears

And hear me out, and, hearing, heal my hurt.

 

How could I think you punished me? My fears

Just magnified the shadows that I cast

Till you were lost in shadow too. Love hears

 

My cries and clears the shadows of my past

Flinging them back before his growing light

Until I recognise his face at last.

 

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10 Comments

Filed under imagination, Poems

10 responses to “The 6th poem in my corona on the psalms

  1. David Burt

    An enlightening poem again. Thank you. I do hope you will publish this series.
    David

    • malcolmguite

      Thanks David yes I hope to bring these out as a book if I am able to complete them

      • The Rev'd Canon Raggs Ragan, Diocese of Oregon

        I do hope you will complete and publish a full set of these reflections on the Psalms. I always love your poems and have quoted them in sermons, used them in classes, and spread the word in many ways. But over my 40 years of priesting I have encountered many dreadful spiritual missteps engendered and encouraged by a literal reading of the psalms and have found assisting in people’s recovery from that challenging. You are helping to restore in me kindly feelings toward the Psalter and I would love to be able to pass this imagined book along to those led into ‘hating their/our/God’s en enemies’ by their traditional reading of the ‘difficult’ psalms. Thank you as always for the blessings you bring to my life and so many others.

      • malcolmguite

        Thanks for this. Yes I hope to complete and publish these, God willing, and yes one has to rise to the challenge of the difficult psalms. CS Lewis has some very helpful reflections on that

  2. Margaret

    I lost my 43-year old daughter to cancer almost 6 years ago. I this reflection, I hear a beautiful reminder of the need to recognize God’s love in the midst of grief.

  3. David C Brown

    A large undertaking started with your usual thought and craft. We have to remember that David and the other psalmists did not have the advantages we have in matters being settled by Christ’s work being done. But we may feel as they did that God is angry.
    There is so much of the spirit of Christ in the psalms.
    (Amused to note that psalmists was auto corrected to pessimists! Not with the God that they knew!)

  4. Pingback: Good Memories of God - HOLY CROSS LUTHERAN CHURCH

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