Raised In A Barn

New York writer friends from college are calling for contributions for an up-coming publication of contemporary "religious" sonnets. I hope Aaron Belz (also a writer friend from college) will have something represented.

From Weeping Rivet :
“We hope that by juxtaposing 40 modern writers working in an antiquated literary form we can create a forum for exploring whether religion itself has become an antiquated form.... Both sonnets and religions are necessarily restrictive and dogmatic to a degree; will our modern writers be able to wear these forms gracefully, annunciating something living and active within?”

Now, I don't pretend to be a John Donne or anything. But here's my honest contribution.

The rebel-creature does the truth suppress
exchanging knowledge for a foolish lie
denying Me in his unrighteousness
I give him over to his lust to die
Although he knew the penalty for this
his conscience bearing witness to his guilt
he thought himself to be autonomous
inventing his own law: "do what thou wilt"
And so do all before me stand condemned
for no one can their own selves vindicate
who then are you to cry this does offend
that I each sinner would predestinate
I hated Esau, Jacob loved have I
to demonstrate both grace and wrath are mine.

Some poets may think commenting on one's own work is somehow inauthentic, but I don't think it necessarily takes away from a poem to "explain" it. It all depends on how you explain it, I guess. Anyway, here is something of an explanation: The theme is, obviously, "predestination" --being a conspicuous element of Calvinism. I drew heavily upon the Apostle Paul's language in Romans***, reflecting the pauline orientation of much calvinistic theology. I cast it in "first-person divine," indicating that the Scriptures are the very Word of God. While some might derogate calvinism as a peculiar species of the religious humanism of late medievalism (when sonnets originated), the final couplet (but a near-rhyme) is chiasmic (both in the first line of the couplet, and in the couplet itself), which is characteristic of Hebrew poetry --a subtle statement of calvinism's biblical character.

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