Thursday, July 23, 2015

Birthday Poems: William 2013

I'm trying to gather all the past poems and stories I've written for my wife and kids and post them here, to give them a more permanent home. My oldest son William turned 12 a few days ago, so I thought I'd post one I wrote for him a couple of years ago, when he turned ten. I think this is clear enough from the poem, but I had missed writing his birthday poem the year before, which is the reason for the apology in the first stanza. Anyway, here it is.

The Builder
A Poem for William on His Tenth Birthday
By His Father, July 19, 2013

My son, draw near, and listen for a while,
To words I trust are worthy and worthwhile;
But first, confession: last year, as you know,
Your birthday poem simply did not show;
The annals of these years will thus reveal
A chasm at that point; for this I kneel
In penitence; for writing thus for you
May prove the best of all the work I do.

But now, with your forgiveness, let me speak
About a special day that falls this week:
Your birthday: you are ten years old today,
And of the many things that I could say,
There’s one that, like the tallest tree, stands out;
Like towers of a terrible redoubt;
A fitting image, for I know your heart:
To build: with skill, with cleverness, with art.

What churches, houses by your hand shall rise?
What towers to adorn the canvas-skies?
Shall new cathedrals wake in time to come?
What kind of builder will my son become?
And if your double calling yet holds true—
That God also a pastor makes of you—
Then, toiling in the sacramental guild,
What spiritual tower will you build?

But if you build, then build with more than stone:
For you may have a family of your own;
So build, therefore, a strong and noble life,
And give it to your children and your wife;
Then build a legacy to leave behind,
That generations now unborn may find;
Remember, as you build in wood and sod,

That city whose great builder is our God.

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