Blog Posts on Poems

How to Read a Book

John Piper
How to Read a Book

It’s that time of year when students and teachers are going “back to school” after the summer vacation. John Piper describes this new poem as “playful, though serious,” and we hope it will both clarify and energize the productive enterprise of reading, whether you’re starting a new semester or reading the daily news. – Editor

On Reading Well
A Meditation on C. S. Lewis’s
Experiment in Criticism, pages 100–101

Would you attain an author’s sense?
Or only what you see?
Perhaps your sight is... Continue Reading

The Gospel of the Wall of Jericho

John Piper
The Gospel of the Wall of Jericho

Your wall, O wicked Jericho, your ancient, mighty wall,
Your shame, where you have made your infants’ blood renowned,
Your boast, your monument, your Babel, tall
And endless on its side, bent ’round
Into a ring, a thrust,
Betrothing you
To dust;

Your wall, your peace, your life you thought would ever thrive,
Now hollowed with four centuries of pride
Into a labyrinthine hive
Of honeyed lust inside,
With brothels all
Will fall;

But for one slender segment, with its rooms
And beds and... Continue Reading

New Poem: ‘The Book of Life’

John Piper
New Poem: ‘The Book of Life’

Before the night he was betrayed,
TheLord of glory died;
Indeed before the world was made,
The Lamb was crucified.

Before the sin, the spear, the lash
(Eternal was the flood!)
God put his inkwell at the gash,
And filled it with his blood;

Then with his crimson ink and quill,
A holy world compiled,
And wrote his kind and costly will:
The name of ev’ry child.

Then, finally, with tears, he took
A blade to foreordain,
And graved the title of the book:
TheLife, the Lamb,... Continue Reading

New Poem: ‘Now Is An Age’

John Piper
New Poem: ‘Now Is An Age’

Now Is An Age
On Reading John Donne’s Death, Be Not Proud

One night, as I sat reading
Before the fire, and casting
Calm shadows on the door behind my chair,
I saw the everlasting,
And all the world receding
Here, and lodged thisprayer:

“O God, all joy exceeding,
O Christ, forever living,
I praise you for this moment, this pure sight,
And ask, all sin forgiving,
By your all-precious bleeding
Flesh, feed this delight.

And, if my hunger heeding,
And my... Continue Reading

The Jagged Void (A Poem for Grieving Mothers)

John Piper
The Jagged Void (A Poem for Grieving Mothers)

When the tornado hit Moore, Oklahoma on May 20, nine children died in the Plaza Towers Elementary School. I’ve been thinking about their parents, especially the mothers who bore them — and trying to imagine the void. And the more I think, the more the whole battery of recent losses crowd in on my mind — Newtown, Boston, Philadelphia, my own church. I wrote this for those mothers — perhaps all the mothers who’ve lost a child.

The Jagged Void

Tomorrow morn
The sun... Continue Reading

Grace Forfeited: A New Start for an Old Tradition

David Mathis
Grace Forfeited: A New Start for an Old Tradition

It’s a new start for an old tradition in American Journalism, says Marvin Olasky, editor-in-chief of World Magazine. The news poem. Says Olasky,

Hardly a vile murder or a military victory went by without colonial poets bemoaning or celebrating the occasion in verse, with the work then published on a single page “broadside” and sold for a penny. Happily, my favorite pastor/theologian, John Piper, is also a poet, and below are his thoughts on justice in regard... Continue Reading

A New Poem: If You’re Alive, It’s Not Too Late

John Piper
A New Poem: If You’re Alive, It’s Not Too Late

Too Late

At concourse G, gate seventeen,
My sweat and panting pleas
That obstacles were unforeseen
May have been fantasies
For all they cared of where I’d been.
The door was locked within.
“I waited at another gate,”
I pled. They said, “Too late.”

I wait, and weary, fall—hurled back
Through sluggish centuries—
Asleep. The roof of my poor shack
Unrhythmic’ly taps. These
Drops of rain suddenly unite
In weeks of raging night.
I linger, doubting. Then flail... Continue Reading

Chief of Sinners: 1 Timothy 1:16 and Galatians 1:15

John Piper
Chief of Sinners: 1 Timothy 1:16 and Galatians 1:15

I received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience as an example to those who were to believe in him for eternal life. . . . He set me apart before I was born, and called me by his grace.

You were aflame, a Pharisee.
I was. Without a flaw.
Then blameless? Perfect purity?
Yes, in the law.

Did you consent to Stephen's death?
More than consent, approved.
And did you hear his final breath?
I did,... Continue Reading

A Poem on Hebrews 3:13

John Piper
A Poem on Hebrews 3:13

"Lest You Be Hardened"
Hebrews 3:13

Your thoughts, your words, your ways
Are high,
So far above my place
That I
Sometimes perceive your broad
Your brilliant blue, your sun—
As night.

You love me with some shock,
A threat.
Am I then in the dock,
In debt?
You answer, "No, you're blest.
It's my
Alert, my kindness, lest
You die."

I see. Then, Lord, invoke
Your Dove.
Cause me to feel this stroke
As love.
Come, teach my heart in this
To rest,
To savor and to kiss
This “... Continue Reading

Slow Dying

John Piper
Slow Dying

The hill of dying, not of death,
Is steeper,
And all the climbers gashed.

On hands and knees, I take a breath,
A creeper,
Barely moving, slashed.

And though the door of death is shut,
The keeper
Beckons with a skull.

“But if my death is why you cut,
Grim Reaper,
Why is your scythe so dull?”

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