Let There Be Light

“Cherubim and Seraphim, assemble and salute!
Behold your Lord’s creation; let every tongue fall mute.”
Thus Michael spoke for all, enthralled, dazed by the stars’ bright rays:
“Oh who among us—dazzled, awed—dare sing the Maker’s praise?”

But never fear, the Lord Himself has made fine instruments
And tuned them with precision for man’s future testaments.
As eagles are endowed with wings to wheel and soar and climb,
True poets will be given gifts: pure rhythm, reason, rhyme.

But let such gifts be guarded from imposters soon to come;
Be careful this fine banquet does not end up one stale crumb.
For, as devils infiltrate the church and lead its flocks astray,
So too with sheepish poets: evil wolves will have their way.

And yet a stalwart remnant will not desert the Lord;
His paradise awaits them—yea, behold the covering sword!
The wise will always praise Him; the foolish, to their doom,
Will follow falsest “prophets” into the formless gloom.

True poets, tune your meter! True poets of the lyre,
Make your voices heard above the gibberings from the mire!
For soon the Day of Judgement comes; the Marriage Feast awaits;
But talents squandered fund the tolls exacted at hell’s gates.

 

DPAA Hymn

The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) tries to account for the lives and remains of all U.S. military personnel. It is still flying back remains from World War II.

Sound the awesome cannons.
Pin medals to each breast.
Let lilting bagpipes mourn.
Give them a hero’s rest.

Recite their names to the stars;
Let them salute their kin.
Then bid the land they loved
Gather them in again.

 

Kim Cherub is a devout Catholic, an unapologetic conservative, and a lover and patron of the fine arts. She has been writing poetry for more than twenty years, but has only recently begun to submit her work for publication.


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27 Responses

  1. E. V.

    Bravo! Excellent! Both poems show poetic skill. Could you please clarify something for me? During my 2nd reading of “Let There Be Light”, it became very clear that you, the poet, are comparing free-verse poets to false prophets. However, during my 1st reading, I was associating the “evil wolves” and “falsest prophets” to be those poets who use their talent to spread messages God would condemn. Were there two (or more) meanings … or was my 2nd interpretation the only meaning?

    Reply
    • C.B. Anderson

      E. V., Is it not possible that both ideas co-exist? God knows, I’ve written my share of scurrilous poems, and I don’t regret it. God also knows that freedom is essential to His grand plan, so what’s the difference?

      Reply
      • E. V.

        I believe my 2nd interpretation is the stronger of the two. However, to answer your question, my curiosity pertains less to the specific subject (religion) than to the basic concept of just wanting to understand the poet’s intention.

      • Kim Cherub

        C. B.,

        I believe St. Paul was a proponent of individual freedom. Didn’t he say that he was able to eat foods offered to idols because he knew the idols were false gods? But someone with weaker faith might not want to take the same chance, and he might abstain for their sake.

    • Kim Cherub

      Dear E. V.,

      First, thanks for reading the poem twice!

      In the lines in question, I was saying that “sheepish” poets can be led astray by evil wolves (not necessarily poets), just as churches can be led astray by devils from the outside. I believe poets need discernment to avoid being led astray.

      Reply
      • Kim Cherub

        E. V.,

        My primary theme is that poets must guard their talents by not being taken in by false prophets, charlatans, wolves, etc.

        I was thinking of the parable of the talents: to whom much is given, much will be expected. If poets have real talent they should not be misled into misusing it. We often hear poets who claim to be Christians saying things Christ would never have said himself, for instance.

  2. James Sale

    There is always something heavenly about the Cherub’s work – why the first word is even Cherubim! Love it! Ingenious conceit and I like the way you work it out. When T S Eliot died there was a cartoon in one of the London papers showing Milton in heaven rubbing his hands with glee, with the caption saying, “I’ve been waiting for this one”. Yes, even poets get judged. Thanks, very enjoyable.

    Reply
    • Kim Cherub

      Dear James, I’m glad you noticed my little nod to my last name!

      I wonder what Milton did with William Blake, after Blake called him one of the Devil’s party, without knowing it?

      Reply
      • James Sale

        Kim – a very interesting speculation! What did Milton do with Blake when he came knocking on heaven’s door? Perhaps another poet will enlighten us? In verse?

      • Kim Cherub

        James,

        That would be a VERY interesting poem! One can only imagine …

  3. C.B. Anderson

    In the first poem, the predominant iambic heptameter is violated in stanza 3, line 3. In long lines such as these, fixes are easy and abundant.

    The meter itself is suspect in a few other lines: In stanza 1 line 2, “creation; let” introduced an unnecessary pyrrhic foot in the middle of the line. Simply replacing the semicolon with “and,” thus promoting “and” to a stressed syllable, would solve this. In stanza 4 line one, “remnant will” inserts another unnecessary pyrrhic foot.

    “And yet a stalwart remnant will refuse to leave the Lord” is a possible solution, but I’m sure that there are many better options.

    In stanza 4 line 4, “into” is a big problem. No matter where you you place the accent (and “into” is one of those words that can be scanned either way), it creates a misplaced pyrrhic foot. I have no simple solution, but I have found that there is no metrical problem that cannot be solved with sufficient time and effort.

    Having said all this, I think that that this poem is a very good one. It is thematically coherent, and the theme resonates with those of us who would champion goodness, order, and attentiveness to the divine in our quotidian transactions.

    The second poem should stand as written, a fine and timely sentiment. God bless you, Kim.

    Reply
    • Kim Cherub

      C. B.,

      Thanks for pointing out the issues you noticed. I will take a look at the lines in question. I’m always open to suggestion, and I appreciate the time you took, so thanks very much, and godspeed.

      Reply
      • C.B. Anderson

        These were minor flaws, I think. I hope for your approval much more than you should hope for mine, because your general attitude is beyond reproach from a critic of my unenlightened ilk. Press onward!

  4. Joe Tessitore

    Wonderful Poetry!

    Good to see you back on the page, Kim!

    Beth (E.V.) asks an intriguing question – I hope you get the opportunity to respond!

    Reply
    • Kim Cherub

      Joe, it’s good to be back! I did answer Beth’s question, I hope.

      Now that I’m back, I’ll keep an eye out for your poems. I remember you being too modest about your accomplishments!

      Reply
  5. Mark Stone

    Kim, Hello. I’m always ambivalent about leaving a detailed critique, because I don’t know if the poet is looking for that. However, since C.B. has bravely led the way, I will sheepishly follow. In my comments, “S” means stanza and “L” means line.

    1. I agree with C.B.’s comments about the meter in S3L3, S4L1 and S4L4. One possible fix for S3L3 is just to delete “For.” An option for S4L1 is:

    And yet a stalwart remnant will not disavow the Lord.

    And an option for S4L4 is:

    Will follow falsest “prophets” right into the formless gloom.

    2. Regarding C.B.’s comment on the meter of S1L2, I have a different take. For me, the meter of that line works if you pause (for the length of one syllable) where the semi-colon is. And I note that there are similar one-syllable pauses in the middle of S4L3 and in the middle of S5L1.

    3. The remaining comments deal with “DPAA Hymn.” When I first read S1L4, it seemed that “them” was referring back to “bagpipes.” I assume that “them” is supposed to refer to the POW/MIA soldiers. I think one fix would be to refer to these individuals in the title of the poem. Perhaps something like: “The Return of the POW and MIA.”

    4. The phrase “pin medals to each breast” raises concern because, as I understand it, each medal that military members can earn has specific criteria that must be met for the member to be eligible. Pinning “medals” assumes that each POW and MIA has met the criteria for at least two medals. This may be the case for all POW/MIAs, but I don’t know that. However, I will admit that this is a technical point, and I don’t think that most of the people who would be the audience for this poem (such as attendees at a POW-MIA ceremony) would be that nit-picky.

    5. In a poem this short, I think it would be worthwhile to try for an ABAB rhyme scheme in each stanza. Here’s one possibility:

    The Return of the POW and MIA

    Fire the cannon! Sound the horn!
    Pin medals to each breast.
    Let lilting bagpipes proudly mourn.
    Give them a hero’s rest.

    Recite their names to the stars above.
    Let them salute their kin.
    Then bid the land they’ll always love
    Gather them in again.

    6. Thank you for supporting our troops. I enjoyed both poems.

    Reply
    • Kim Cherub

      Mark, I always welcome detailed critiques, and I do appreciate your time and effort on my behalf.

      I think pauses do play a part in English meter, going back to the caesura of ancient Anglo-Saxon poetry. I also think the duration and “hardness” and “softness” of words play roles that sometimes defy scansion. In the end, I suspect poets have to rely on their ears. I will read the poem again and see what my ear tells me, but I really do appreciate the critique.

      I dislike pronouns with unclear referents, so I took another look at “them.” My defense is that there isn’t any reasonable way to read “them” except as the occupants of the coffins.

      I’m sure you’re correct about the medals, but then the medals would not be pinned at the graveyard. I was thinking metaphorically rather than literally. The stars in the heavens are not going to acknowledge human stars on earth either. So the poem is a bit fanciful.

      I like your idea about the ABAB scheme, especially the second stanza. I will definitely think about that idea.

      Thanks again, very much appreciated!

      Reply
    • Kim Cherub

      Mark, what do you think about this idea for S3L3:

      For, as devils enter churches and lead their flocks astray, …

      Reply
      • Mark Stone

        Kim,

        Hi. I think that line is an improvement. The plural “churches” and “flocks” matches nicely with the plural “poets” and “wolves” in the following line. There is a one-syllable pause in the middle of your suggested line, but that’s OK.

        My real problem is starting the sentence with “For.” I don’t think it’s necessary; it throws off the meter, and it sounds awkward. I also notice that a lot of the lines in the poem start with filler words, such as “thus” or “but” or “and.” I prefer starting the line with an impact word, such as the subject of the sentence or clause. So here is a suggestion for these two lines (both start with headless iambs):

        Just as devils in a church will lead the flock astray,
        Sheepish poets will permit the wolves to have their way.

        I don’t think you need the word “evil” because readers will understand in this context that the wolf is evil, especially since the wolf is in the proximity of sheep.

        I have another thought that I didn’t have time to mention when I made comments the other day. I asked my wife to read “Let There Be Light” just now, and she said it flows beautifully until S3L2, which reads as follows:

        Be careful this fine banquet does not end up one stale crumb.

        She described this line as a “clunker.” I wouldn’t put it that strongly, but I agree with the sentiment. I think the image of a banquet turning into a crumb is strong and effective. But for me, saying seven one-syllable words in a row is not a smooth and happy experience. Here is the couplet as it stands currently, followed by an alternative for the second line.

        But let such gifts be guarded from imposters soon to come;
        Be careful this fine banquet does not end up one stale crumb.

        Do not permit this banquet to devolve to a stale crumb.

        I’m sure you or others can think of something better, but I think this illustrates my suggestion.

        Thank you for giving me the opportunity to participate further. If you’d like my read on any other proposed changes, I’ll be happy to assist.

  6. Kim Cherub

    Mark,

    I do appreciate your time, and your wife’s also. I will consider your suggestions, thanks so much. Is there a way to change a poem once it has been posted?

    Reply
  7. David Hollywood

    I am not of a mind, interest, nor probably the talent to leave a critique of each persons poetry, and prefer otherwise to receive the combined sentiments and tones allied to the imagery, descriptions, visualisations,sensations and thoughts contained and from those discover the effect of the poem has upon my own being. In each of the above poems I am uplifted by the grandness of the themes and the integrity of the subjects whilst combining my appreciations for such by knowing they make me a better person due to their strengths and moral content. I fully admire both contributions and thank you.

    Reply

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