Eternity in Our Hearts

after Ecclesiastes 3

I contemplated all these matters from
beneath the heaven, seeing things the way
God sees them. For, no matter what may come,

it has its place, and everything its day,
in God’s economy. For everything
there is a season; every purpose may

be sorted out. There is a time to bring
forth life, a time to die; a time to sow,
a time to harvest what was sown in spring.

There even is a time to kill; just so,
there is a time to heal; a time to break
things down, a time to build things up. And though

there is a time to sorrow and to make
lament, there is a time to laugh. To mourn,
likewise to celebrate with joy; to take

out stones, to gather stones; in love’s sweet morn
to hold and cherish, and a time to cease
from love; to gain, to lose; to be forlorn,

to be refreshed; to keep and to increase,
and then to throw away; a time to tear,
a time to sew; a time for speech to cease,

a time for speaking out; a time to bear
another up in love, a time to turn
away in hate; a time for war somewhere,

somewhere a time for peace. What did I learn?
From all his work, a man gains nothing. I
have seen the labor every man in turn

is given from the hand of God, that he
may fill his passing days and realize
some meaning. God has made all things to be,

in their time, beautiful, that we might prize
and cherish every opportunity
for seeing Him. He sets before our eyes

His glory, and we know Him. Also, He
has put eternity within our heart,
so that we understand how things should be –

although we cannot know, except in part,
as God knows. Therefore, I suppose that there
is nothing better than for man to start

and finish life rejoicing, taking care
of others, and enjoying life and all
its pleasures, all God’s gifts that everywhere

abound to us. Whatever God does shall
endure forever. Nothing can be to
it added, nothing taken, great or small.

Whatever happens, God Himself will do
it, so that we should fear Him. What is now
has been already, likewise what comes through

tomorrow. God records it all, somehow,
and He requires that we shall give one day
a full account of how we’re living now.

This led me further to observe the way
men live beneath the sun: Where justice should
obtain, and righteousness prevail, there lay

on every hand iniquity. Nor could
I find among the evil everywhere
abounding, anything of lasting good.

I said within my heart, “Does no one care?
Can they not see that they’re no better than
mere animals, who act this way? Compare

your vanity and selfishness, O man,
with any beast, which struggles only to
survive. For God is testing you, or can

you not perceive His hand in this? For you
who live like beasts will die like beasts as well.
You are not made for this. When life is through,

your spirit will remain. And whether hell
or heaven is your destiny is not
yet clear; the works you do, however, tell

the tale of your priorities. You ought
to sing for joy through all your vanity;
and yet your days with misery are fraught.

And is there anyone to help you see
what things will be like when you cease to be?”

 

 

T.M. Moore’s poetry has appeared in numerous journals, and he has published five volumes of verse through his ministry’s imprint, Waxed Tablet Publications. He is Principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, he and his wife, Susie, reside in Essex Junction, VT.


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13 Responses

  1. Joe Tessitore

    Very measured, very beautiful, and a very beautiful way to start the day.

    Reply
  2. Alan

    An excellent poem. Your lines flow quite well from one stanza to the next, and through the enjambments. And the meaning of the original Bible verses is retained quite well. I just have one quibble. When I read the last line, there seem to be two strong stresses in a row at “be like,” and I lose the rhythm there. I won’t try to revise the couplet for you, but that’s my two cents.

    Reply
    • C.B. Anderson

      Alan,

      Sometimes in an iambic line, stresses, if they are not really strong ones, are demoted; likewise, normally unstressed syllables are promoted. The important thing is that elocution of such a line is not so far out of sync with normal speech that it sounds strained and ridiculous. I have no trouble scanning the line you question like this:

      what THINGS will BE like WHEN you CEASE to BE.

      All that is needed is to promote “be” and demote “like.”

      And thus I found this piece of terza rima executed with nary a hitch.

      Reply
  3. James Sale

    It’s a busy day, TM, and I have just read this in passing, but as I swiftly turn to the non-poetic and business matters – in which there is some poetry as there are in all works which we are ordained to do – I should say that these Cantos of yours rank with some of the best poetry being written on these pages, which means I think that they compare with some of the best being written anywhere. They are compelling, they are powerful and fluent, and since they are in terza rima that is a considerable achievement. Some might consider them mere translations, but be that as it may, they are original enough to be thought works of art. I look forward to more of them. Must go.

    Reply
  4. Joseph S. Salemi

    This is excellent terza rima, and especially notable is Moore’s ability to maintain continuous sentence structure over the course of several tercets.

    Reply
    • C.B. Anderson

      Yes, Joseph, it’s heartening when someone is able to maintain good sentence structure. So many seem unable to carry off what was drummed into us from the third to ninth grades. A poem is ever so much easier to read, understand and enjoy when syntax and grammar are properly attended to.

      Reply
  5. David Paul Behrens

    Nothing new under the sun,
    As was written long ago.
    Stars burn out and are done.
    The planets come and go.

    Soon mankind will not exist.
    The heartache will be gone.
    What remains shall persist
    To seek a brand new dawn.

    Reply
  6. James A. Tweedie

    Amen to all the praise. Well earned and well deserved. Please don’t stop! But note that the middle line of the 10th stanza appears to be tetra- rather than penta-.

    Reply

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