Jones Very A friend of


Jones Very

A friend of Emerson and Hawthorne, and a composer of some very fine poems, mostly found in ones and twos in obscure anthologies. In my tribute to the American Verse Project, I bring forward this intense, and quite frightening poem (at least to me), because in some ways it seems to describe the life of the average Christian in America.

THE SLAVE. Jones Very

I SAW him forging link by link his chain,
Yet while he felt its length he thought him free,
And sighed for those borne o'er the barren main
To bondage that to his would freedom be;
Yet on he walked with eyes far-gazing still
On wrongs that from his own dark bosom flowed,
And while he thought to do his master's will
He but the more his disobedience showed;
I heard a wild rose by the stony wall,
Whose fragrance reached me in the passing gale,
A lesson give—it gave alike to all—
And I repeat the moral of its tale,
"That from the spot where deep its dark roots grew
Bloomed forth the fragrant rose that all delight to view."

[Please pardon the somewhat melodramatic tone of what follows--the intent is not luddite, but cautionary.]

In my reading of this poem I see a person enslaved by themselves through small actions taken every day. The intent may be good, it may be harmful, or it may be utterly morally neutral, but the ultimate effect is to lead us off-track. Such things as this morally neutral medium, can, when it interferes with family life and the structure of time given to one's loved ones be a powerful instrument of darkness. When we shroud ourselves in an electronic envelop, be it one of television, radio, internet, mp3, cassette, CDs, or what have you, we effectively cut ourselves off from the direct revelation God has for us in the natural world. Many of the great Saints--John of the Cross and Francis come to mind immediately, had a great love for the sight, sounds, and rhythms of nature. We obstruct those and cast them aside, living in a world so artificial as to completely block the signals of God. How many of us today could write the Canticle to Brother Sun and Sister Moon without feeling utterly silly. How many of us really understand any of Keats's five major odes? Does "Nightingale" really make sense to us, much less "To Autumn." How many of us have any idea of what Jesus' Parables are about in real life? How many have handled a sheep, much less called one to him/her?

From this force-field of electromagnetic waves, we shield ourselves from the messages God has for us in the rhythms of nature. Now, we can get other messages through the medium, not available from God, and as with all things, properly used, the electronic media can enhance our appreciation and love of God. But most of us simply forge our chain link by link, blocking out important information that God would give us, and perhaps even more damagingly, putting cracks into the important relationships in our lives through neglect. The electronic media can be very addictive and quite insidious in the hold they have over us. Their use should be a matter of careful discipline and precaution. Now, I will shortly go to heed my own advice.

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This page contains a single entry by Steven Riddle published on October 3, 2002 8:12 AM.

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