God of storms, peace, and war

Here’s a very interesting vision of the divine in this wartime poem:

April 1941.
Sweet the Voice that Tells of Victory.
Oh sweet the voice that tells of victory won at last,
That strife between the nations now is passed.
That we may rest in safety and in quietness,
Thro’out the hours of holy darkness calm and still.
No noise of guns or sirens blast to warn,
Only sweet sleep until the peaceful morn.
When waking to our work with happy thankfulness,
We sing our praise to God and his salvation bless.

How blest to hear the Storms of God’s creation,
The roar of winds wild exultation.
We revel in the rolling drums of thunder,
and brave the shining of the lightning’s sword.
We fear no earthly foe now God is near,
but worship him with love and holy fear.
To shape anew our lives oh grant us grace,
and knit the hearts of all in their embrace …

The first stanza opposed war and God quite clearly, separating out energetic activity into those two domains (guns vs work).  The second stanza than reconnects God with violence, but natural violence.  And listen to the metaphorical slide from natural to man-made violence: “the Storms of God’s creation,/ The roar of winds wild exultation” becme “the rolling drums of thunder,/ and brave the shining of the lightning’s sword.”

Note that the third mode is delightful, not fearful: “We revel”.

That final fear is powerful, a force “knit[ting]” together a community in faith, under “holy fear” but “fear[ing] no earthly foe”.

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One Response to God of storms, peace, and war

  1. Charles Cameron (hipbone) says:

    As you’d imagine, Bryan, I find this an intriguing poem. I’d wanted to respond to it, and hadn’t found anything to say, when I turned in for the night…

    What follows is, I suppose, a response to it — the first stanza describes a hypnagogic image, the rest came after I got up again to record it, and found myself after a while adding the rest, moving my poem towards the subject matter of yours (knife, gun, wind), then off wherever it wanted to go…

    Visitation

    A huddle of renaissance bodies —
    by which I mean, robed in red blue and green
    silks and linens with scrolling folds –
    a plethora of wings — viewed
    against a constant sky of flaking gold leaf.

    Not a one of them carries knife or gun,
    not one a harp, model church or open book —

    and if one of them blew a wind
    it would have been the one looking back
    over her shoulder, towards an
    unseen landscape where nothing much
    happens, the river curls onwards,
    smoke rises from chimneys, stars fall,

    time and those who live in it are undisturbed.

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