Monday, January 12, 2009

The Excesses of God

While 20th century American poetry is generally not my forte, I did manage to find some occasional gems when I took a class on the topic last summer. Among them was Robinson Jeffers.

Yesterday I stumbled upon one of his books in a used bookshop near campus, and as I flipped through it I reencountered a poem that makes a few of my recent blog posts seem unoriginal (but, after all, how much of what we say is truly original?). Since Jeffers beat me to three of the illustrations I used (stars, rainbows, and reproduction) to illustrate God’s gratuitous beauty and mundane magic in these fourteen lines, I suppose I should give him some credit for the idea as well.
The Excesses of God

Is it not by his high superfluousness we know
Our God? For to be equal a need
Is natural, animal, mineral: but to fling
Rainbows over the rain
And beauty above the moon, and secret rainbows
On the domes of deep sea-shells,
And make the necessary embrace of breeding
Beautiful also as fire,
Not even the weeds to multiply without blossom
Nor the birds without music:
There is the great humaneness at the heart of things,
The extravagant kindness, the fountain
Humanity can understand, and would flow likewise
If power and desire were perch-mates.

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