The Poets

April 05, 2011

Lifted Up

I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to myself.
John 12:32


Beyond the mystic’s hope I hope
To know the higher sky
To live and breathe that vaulted slope
Where seraphs joyous fly

O raise me from this solemn earth
And place me in the blue
And grant renewal, newer birth
And clad me in thy hue

Let henceforth fairer blue skies reign
Where fowl in cadence stroll
Release me from this bond, this chain
This flesh, and free my soul

Let bright blue stars their auras lend
Whose phosphor lights I see
And all those truths that do transcend
Ah, draw them unto me


Of the Poem (Parameters and Notes):

Stanza: Ballad, Common Measure, Quatrain
Meter: Alternates between a tetrameter (8 syllables per line), and a trimeter (6 syllables)
Rhyme Scheme: abab per individual stanza

I wrote this poem as a sort of counter-sequel to a poem I wrote and dedicated to Anne Sexton.

I named the poem, Touch the Sky. That particular poem speaks on Sexton’s desire to kill herself ('to negate flesh') and my astonishment and grief that she did. It's pretty good, you should check it out.

The imagery employed in that poem is somewhat similar to the imagery employed in this one- namely, sky verses earth. The difference between the two poems, however, and the reason this current one is a counter-sequel, is that Sexton literally took her life to escape this earthly realm, while this poem speaks of the desire to be one with God and everything that pertains to Him, the desire to cast off- not kill- the flesh.

Hope you guys like it. Happy National Poetry Month!!


About the sub-quote, it’s from John 12:32 and refers to Jesus’ crucifixion. While acknowledging the historical reference of the verse, I’ve always found a symbol (in fact, many symbols) hidden away in that statement. This particular poem is inspired by one of those interpretations.

The ‘earth’ represents the flesh, or that which is merely corporeal, or worldly. The 'sky' represents the spirit and that which is spiritual or heavenly.

To be ‘lifted up from the earth’ signifies a receding or drawing away from things of the flesh, or that which is worldly. At the same time, it also represents an increase in that which is spiritual and heavenly (since the ‘lifting up’ is a lifting up toward the sky).

I take, in this particular case, the word ‘man’ to symbolize spiritual truths; and so, to ‘draw all men unto me’ simply signifies exposure to spiritual truths, truths that transcend that which is merely corporeal.

The crucifixion itself was an actual act of sacrifice, and therefore, latent in the poem is the idea that departing from the base things of the flesh to attain the noble things of the spirit requires sacrifice.

Interestingly, and I love this fact, the words ‘holy’ and ‘saint’ and ‘sanctification’ all imply a state of separation in the Bible- that is, a separation and departure from that which is not of God. This poem implies that idea of separation, a separation that brings one closer to God, and one that increases propriety. In fact, the point of the poem is exceedingly akin to one of my favorite quotes:

We ought to fly away from the earth to heaven as quickly as we can; and to fly away is to become like God, as far as this is possible; and to become like him is to become holy, just, and wise.


lorely said...

As I am praying for one in chains this day...I needed to hear this...thanks for the gift. There will come a day of freedom...

Carla M. Turner said...

John, this is beautiful. I love your writing style...

Carla M. Turner said...

John, thanks for following up with me.
Happy Poetry Month to you too!
As for our glitchy problem, I use Safari. I'm not sure if that makes a difference or not. I'm not technically savvy with HTML, but I wonder if the problem lies there?... I'm not sure what I can do about fixing it but I'll try using Fire Fox. I will also look into Google Chrome. Thank you SO much for your help. Glad you got yours fixed!

I also write a lot of poetry, though I'm reluctant to share it online for copyright reasons. I really love that you write Parameters and Notes on your poetry. I have so much to learn in that area! You should really consider publishing some of your work. It's wonderful. ~Carla

Nancy said...

Like it? Love it! Is the use of color (and related terms i.e hue)- specifically the color blue - purposeful? Another beautfiul feather in your ever more glorious cap.

Definitley agree with Carla M. Turner on the publishing (but then I've always said that).

John W. May said...

Thanks ladies- you're making me blush ...

Sorry to hear about your brother, Lorely.

Thank you for the kind words Carla.

And Nancy, blue was intentionally used- there's a liveliness that I've always felt when I'd look up and see a clear blue sky, also a sort of dread.Blue therefore, is mean to symbolize that which pertains to the Divine and a reverence in relation to this.

As of April 9th, 2010