Photo of the Isle of Wight‘Verbum Dei’ by James Sale The Society January 25, 2021 Beauty, Culture, Poetry 51 Comments . The Verbum Dei Retreat Centre on the Isle of Wight aims to be a place of encounter with God We took the ferry; darkness closed; Warm lights ahead; who knew the way? Crowded in a car, pilgrims led For God knows what to Verbum Dei. They took the register; let slip The code that led to where we’d stay— A bowl of soup and fellowship, And God knows what at Verbum Dei. We all recall Marita’s eyes, And songs reminding us to pray: Right glad that God invited us To God knows what at Verbum Dei. Somewhere between the mind and soul, Between the night and brand new day, There is the space Christ occupies For God knows who at Verbum Dei. Almighty God, You made the world— So clear You are in what You say; Yet still mind struggles, reels, rejects— Teach us, God knows, from Verbum Dei. . . James Sale is a worldwide thought leader on motivation: he has had 4 books on the topic published by Routledge, and over 700 management consultants in 15 countries use his products. James is also a feature writer on culture for The Epoch Times. He has written poetry for over 50 years and has had 9 collections published. He won First Prize in the Society’s 2017 Competition and his next collection, The English Cantos Volume 1: HellWard is due shortly. For more on this, go to https://englishcantos.home.blog. He can be contacted at email@example.com. NOTE TO READERS: If you enjoyed this poem or other content, please consider making a donation to the Society of Classical Poets. NOTE TO POETS: The Society considers this page, where your poetry resides, to be your residence as well, where you may invite family, friends, and others to visit. Feel free to treat this page as your home and remove anyone here who disrespects you. Simply send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Put “Remove Comment” in the subject line and list which comments you would like removed. The Society does not endorse any views expressed in individual poems or comments and reserves the right to remove any comments to maintain the decorum of this website and the integrity of the Society. Please see our Comments Policy here. CODEC News:Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on WhatsApp (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pinterest (Opens in new window) 51 Responses The Mindflayer January 25, 2021 A beautifully controlled poem. The final rhyme of “say” and “Dei” is particularly satisfying given the meaning of the Latin phrase, bringing us closer to the feeling that perhaps we are able to hear the Word, if only faintly! Very Yeatsian, with an essence of “Lake Isle of Innisfree” Reply James Sale January 25, 2021 Thank you Joe, I am so glad you like this poem, and your comment on my use of rhyme is extremely perceptive. Reply Cynthia Erlandson January 25, 2021 This is lovely, James. The echoing line is very musical. And I love the fourth verse, especially — the idea of Christ being in the mysterious between-ness. Reply James Sale January 25, 2021 Thank you Cynthia. Yes, it is in the between-ness as you put it that reality inheres. As CS Lewis pointed out long ago, Christ was able to appear to his apostles – crowded in fear in a locked room – not because he was a spirit, or ghost, with all those connotations of insubstantiality, but because the wall of the room was insubstantial compared with the Reality that now appeared through it. In the same way, our dreams seem to have this liminal quality. Reply Christopher Flint January 25, 2021 Do you pronounce “Dei” as one syllable or two? Reply James Sale January 25, 2021 As rhyming with ‘day’, effectively anglicising it. Reply Joseph S. Salemi January 25, 2021 In his novel “The Recognitions,” William Gaddis has a female character named “Agnes Deigh,” a clear anglicization of the Latin agnus Dei. A really fine poem, James. Christopher Flint January 25, 2021 I suppose many readers might willingly infer that styling, but is that the way it’s pronounced at the retreat? Is that common where you’re from? If indeed the Latin were pronounced that way, your verse would be anthem-like, but for me the artificial nature of such rhyme diminishes it. I am probably a minority of one, however, as others here seem to prove. I appreciate you taking time to respond. Joseph S. Salemi January 26, 2021 Yes, but we aren’t in a retreat, Mr. Flint. We’re in a poem. Latin is no longer a commonly spoken language, and it has ALWAYS been the case that its pronunciation varied from place to place in Europe. Prior to the establishment of a rigorously philological pronunciation of Latin (by pedantic German scholars in the 19th century), you would have heard different styles of Latin in England, Italy, France, and everywhere else. Is there really a need to make a mountain out of a molehill here? Margaret Coats January 25, 2021 As Cynthia rightly says above, the refrain ending “Verbum Dei” is musical, and as a singer I can only rhyme with English “-ay” by using two syllables “DEH-ee.” My Roman pronunciation requires two syllables to achieve the sound James wants here, and does so with a little fading into a feminine ending. This, I feel, nicely distinguishes English from Latin, but produces rhyme that satisfies the choirmaster, while drawing out that final word with a touch of mystery. Note that James did not answer the “one or two syllables” question, but specified the sound. Reply James Sale January 25, 2021 Thanks for your helpful comments Margaret and alluding especially to that final ‘mystery’. I’d like to think that this is also occurring in some prosodic effects too. For example, the line ‘There is the space Christ occupies’ is seemingly a perfect iambic pentameter until you consider that the word ‘Christ’ is – if it is iambic – unstressed, but such is the power of the word Christ, many speakers might stress it anyway and so put the meter ‘out’; but of course, it is ambiguous – Christ is occupying the space between the stress and its absence – the point of mystery in fact. Thanks again – appreciate your contribution. Christopher Flint January 25, 2021 James has said he intended “Dei” to rhyme with “say”, to the vast majority of folks, a single syllable word. He did also state that some folks might naturally tend toward two syllables for words ending in “ay” making the Latin “De-i” pronunciation rhyme to them (but skewing his meter a bit). He also said — and I agree — a poet’s choices are in good measure subjective. The poet content with his or her own satisfaction has a perfect right to that position by whatever emotion, logic, or other factor bears on it. I tend to think in terms of “most universal acceptance” unless the work clearly establishes the applicability of other logic, but I force that position on no one. I perhaps should have been clearer. I had no difficulty reading the work and appreciating it with the two syllable Latin pronunciation of “Dei” to which I’m personally inclined and believe is most universally accepted. And it was indeed the changing refrain-like line that made me attribute potential anthem quality to the work. For that reason, I longed for it to be even more musical. I found myself mentally making other minor changes to that end as I kept re-reading it, but I couldn’t get past the rhyme issue being a deterrent to broad musical acceptance. Forcing the rhymes musically — either way one goes about it — will seem unnatural to lots of folks. And perhaps to just as many, not seem troubling at all. It’s those who would be troubled that I worry about. My personal frustration with the rhyme did not diminish, however, my appreciation for the message or its fundamental poetic nature. I was simply trying to take the work where I personally couldn’t get it to go. Clearly, other commenters here do not share my concern. As I have said, I fully recognize that in all likelihood my position makes me a beholder minority of one, and I so clarified my remarks. C.B. Anderson January 25, 2021 Here, Mr. Flint, we have another case where a vowel cluster can be treated either as a diphthong or a disyllable. Note that “day” itself is a diphthong, consisting, if you draw it out, of two sounds: a Latin “e” (which sounds like a non-diphthong English long “A”) and a Latin “i” (which sounds like “ee.” Hence “day” or “day-ee.” So take your pick; depending on how you want to pronounce it, “Dei” can be a perfect rhyme with other “ay” words or not. I tend to choose a pronunciation that best accords with its function as a rhyme shared by two lines of poetry. As much as I might object to rhyming “day” with “Dei” on other grounds, I have no problem with making the necessary adjustment in my mind’s ear. Reply Christopher Flint January 25, 2021 Mr. Anderson — According to each of the three major style guides, “dei” has two syllables. It is, in this work, “deus” (which also has two syllables) in the genative case. The “ei” is not occurring here as a dipthong in the Latin. Both vowels are fully sounded. The only Latin pronunciation I can find is “day-ee” with “day” accented. If you have a source saying otherwise, please post the link. I have not been able to find one. I also find no evidence of an English version pronounced “day”. The Latin is clearly accepted. There is of course, plenty of evidence that the English “ei” occuring as a dipthong can be identical to long “a”. I did not trust my own long ago four years of Latin. I’ve tried to research it. Mr. Sale has said he intended “dei” to be pronounced (in one syllable) to rhyme with “ay” words (which would keep both his rhyme and meter flawless). Technically, the long “a” in “dei” comes on the eigth syllable in those lines, so some might argue the rhyme is indeed perfect (if one accepts no need to also have and rhyme the extra syllable — ee — in the prior line rhymes). The “ay” words, on the other hand, are not standardly pronounced with a second long “e” syllable so (to me) they don’t rhyme perfectly with “day-ee”. That’s the rub. There’s no way to get perfect rhyme here unless “day” is acceptable for “Dei”. If it is, I haven’t found it yet, and I would think the style guides would include such acceptable substitution. “Dei” in two syllables does have some perfect rhymes but not that would seem to satisfy all the needs here. I seem to recall you saying intent matters. Anything can be sung, of course, any way you want it to sound, but you don’t have that luxury in writing unless you format your way into it, which has been pretty much panned here at SCP. I admire the work. Perfect rhyme is not absolutely necessary. I want it to be better, but the recurring artificial (to me) rhyme is troubling. I just don’t think “dei”, acceptably pronounced, works as an end rhyme five times. But what matters is that Mr. Sale is happy with it, he got by Mr. Mantyk (which I haven’t been able to do lately), and he’s got some of the best in the business in his corner. My vote’s clearly like some others I know — it’s only good until it’s adjudicated. And after that it doesn’t matter. Mike Bryant January 25, 2021 Mr. Flint, I’m posting this only as a matter of interest. Many, many years ago, I was an altar boy who had to recite the words, “Agnus Dei, qui tollis peccata mundi.” Now we had to say it rather quickly, and I swear you couldn’t tell the difference between Dei and day, however if Dei were at the end of the sentence, there would probably be a bit more difference. Also, I take exception with the pronunciation day-eee. I believe deh-eee is more accurate. Once a friend of mine who spoke only Spanish spelled my name, “Maik.” I’m sure he thought it was two syllables. C.B. Anderson January 25, 2021 Mr. Flint, I don’t think I ever wrote that “Dei” was a perfect rhyme for any of the “ay” words. All I meant was that I am willing to grant Mr. Sale a bit of latitude when is comes to rhyming. As you might have noticed, his terza rima is rather famous for irregular rhymes, to a point that might lead one to believe that he is not attempting to rhyme at all. And I was only trying to suggest that if you stretch and exaggerate the vowel elements in a word such as “say,” then you will end up with something that sounds a lot like “Dei.” It’s not something that I would care to do, but it’s Mr. Sale’s poem and therefore his prerogative. C.B. Anderson January 25, 2021 Furthermore, Mr. Flint, the long English “A” spelled “ei” is common in transliterations, especially from Japanese, for example the word “sensei.” For some reason these classical values for vowels are used in such transliterations. The values, as I was taught in my comparative linguistics courses goes something like this: a … ah (as in “father”) e … a (as in “cape”) i … ee (as in “keep”) o … o (as in “hope”) u … oo (as in “coop”) Mike Bryant January 25, 2021 CB, at least in Spanish, the letter “e” would be pronounced like the “e” in “kept.” That’s why I prefer deh-eee over day-eee. We Americans have lots of trouble with diphthongs. C.B. Anderson January 26, 2021 But, Mike, what do you then make of how “Pedro” is pronounced? I usually hear it as PAY-dro. Mike Bryant January 26, 2021 CB, Pay-dro IS the way to say the Spanish name, “Pedro,” in American English, however that’s not the way that it is pronounced by people who are speaking Spanish. This short video might clear it up: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=JaEq5sD8tbc Also, Susan informs me that the pronunciation is Peh-dro in the Queen’s English as well. Really, as you’ve said, all the more reason to have a little latitude because of the many subtle regional differences in pronunciation and meter. Terry L. Norton January 25, 2021 The humility and receptiveness of the poem’s speaker, standing before divine mystery, is most appealing. Reply James Sale January 25, 2021 Thanks Terry – standing before the divine mystery only two other emotions are missing, as Moses discovered: awe and fear. As you may know, having finished HellWard, my journey through Hell, I am now working on the ascent of Purgatory, which I call Stairwell. In canto 3 of StairWell this happens: ‘Your words,’ I said through sobbing, ‘give me pleasure, But too, as we approach the higher stair, Get nearer still to Him; and I, a creature, Worm-like, unworthy, feel dread, awe and fear As by electricity shocked and charged. To flee His presence’s best and not be here!’ Regards – James Reply Cynthia Erlandson January 25, 2021 Your translation sounds awesome, James! What a profound project! I’ve been re-reading Dorothy Sayers’ translation, and am at the moment more than halfway through “Purgatorio”. The terza rima form is incredibly beautiful, but one I’ve never had the courage to attempt. James Sale January 25, 2021 Again, thanks Cynthia. It has many critics but I like you love the Sayers’ translation because it is so ambitious. And I love the terza rima form as my posts on SCP demonstrate – do check out Cantos 1, 2, 3, part of 9, and 11 which all feature on SCP. Indeed, the whole work is contained in my book HellWard which is advertised on the home page of SCP if you look down the right side beneath the trending posts. Finally, just to be clear – the two verses I am sharing above are not a translation, but my original work. Dante is the model and the master, but I am attempting in modern English a similar journey. The HellWard is part one complete; StairWell is under construction! Reply James Sale January 25, 2021 Thanks Joe for your kind remarks. Regarding your further point Christopher, one of course has to say that whether a poem, a line, a phrase, a word works is always going to be partially subjective. As the writer of the poem I am not perturbed by its being an exact rhyme or not; indeed, the word ‘say’ can be pronounced by some ‘English’ speakers as ‘sa-i’ with that slight high ‘ee lilt upwards that you get in Latin (and Italian for that matter). Which leads back to the point that Cynthia made about Christ being in the ‘between-ness’ of things, which is part of the intention of the poem. How we pronounce ‘say’ and ‘Dei’ creates an intentional ambiguity – for academics, scholars and poets who want to get into the mechanics of how things work. That is my account of it, but I have probably said too much. Best let readers decide for themselves whether they like it. But thanks again – it’s an interesting technical point. Reply BRIAN YAPKO January 25, 2021 I love the theology of this enchanting poem. A good and timely reminder of the important of fellowship and acceptance of the fact that on our journey through life what we think we know and control is illusory . All that matters is that “God knows.” What is life if not a leap of faith? Thank you for this. Reply C.B. Anderson January 25, 2021 A nice poem indeed, James. You have neatly charted a course between the gulfs of mystery and the heights of a habitable landfall. Reply Susan Jarvis Bryant January 25, 2021 James, I love this – especially the penultimate stanza that (for me) has an ethereal wonder about it that transcends the retreat centre and touches the fringes of the divine. I also admire the repetition of “God knows” and the play on the literal and idiomatic meanings – very clever and very effective. I have spent many a holiday on the Isle of Wight and only wish I was at the Verbum Dei Retreat Centre now. Thank you for the virtual journey through beautiful poetry. Reply James Sale January 26, 2021 As an ex-Brit, Susan, you will certainly know all about that weird, mysterious place we know as the Isle of Wight. For our American friends who probably have never heard of it, but will have similar places in America, it’s the kind of place where time is different from the rest of the UK – it seems about 20 years behind the rest of the country! At the moment, however, I might prefer – and my wife certainly would (‘Texas’ by Chris Rea is one of her all time favourite songs) to be in Texas than here: it’s an English winter at the moment (with lockdown), so Texas sounds very appealing, especially if those rattlers are hibernating for winter! Reply C.B. Anderson January 26, 2021 As a matter of fact, James, the Isle of Wight is well known to persons of my generation because it figures prominently in a Beatles’ song that might be titled “When I’m Sixty-five”. In it, Paul McCartney sings: We will spend our summers in a cottage on the Isle of Wight, if it’s not too dear; we will scrimp and save. James Sale January 27, 2021 Well, it’s good to know that CB. Of course, not only the English Beatles made the IoW famous: Bob Dylan highlighted the very first Rock Festival there in 1969 and I attended it! I drove my Lamboretta motor scooter all the way from Kent (Susan territory!) to the IoW. Sadly, it didn’t turn out well for me as I misjudged the occasion. The first clue is that I was on a Lamboretta scooter – and wearing Mod-gear and a Parka jacket, not quite having computed that this was a hippy – “Love, man’ – festival. I got some very strong vibes I wasn’t welcome – and had to escape promptly. Still, I enjoyed Dylan more performing in Birmingham (UK) on his 1981 (still a Christian at that point) tour. How times change as one reflects on the IoW and all it might and could mean! Theresa Rodriguez January 25, 2021 James, I truly enjoyed this beautiful, song-like poem, full of musicality and truth. Thank you for creating it for us to read and hear. Reply Andrew Benson Brown January 26, 2021 A very fine lyric of spiritual devotion. Your elucidation of the word ‘Christ’ in-between the stresses left me marveling at the poem’s subtlety, James. Hmm, who should set this thing to music? They did it for Blake. There’s a few singers on this thread. Get to it. I myself enjoyed the repetition of the ‘Dei’ scheme and did not much mind the rhyming ambiguity; I imagine the poor laywoman will scarcely notice this as she slowly sashay-ees down the church aisle, drawing all eyes to…her collection plate. Leave the parsing of such syllables to sibyls, I say. Already on the third canto of Stairwell, James….YOU BEEN HOLDING OUT ON US?! Reply James Sale January 26, 2021 May I thank everyone here for their excellent contributions to this discussion, which has all been about how a poem works – precisely. Whether it works for you, of course, is your decision, but this has been very instructive along the way. Reply Mike Bryant January 26, 2021 James, this poem is beautiful and subtle. It takes me right back to altar boy days. Reply David Watt January 26, 2021 James, I really like the effect created by the concluding line of each stanza. The combination of terza rima and repeating lines perfectly stresses what I imagine to be the air of mystery and sense of anticipation felt by the pilgrims. Reply James A. Tweedie January 26, 2021 An interesting exercise in denoting the relative difference between the pronunciation of the words “Dei” and “day” is to take any familiar musical setting of the Angus Dei by Bach, Mozart, Schubert or Verdi (for example) and substitute the word “day” for “Dei” in the text. “Day” simply does not sound right because the composers know that “Dei” requires a different tonal emphasis. Having said this, James’ poem is written in English rather than Latin and allowances being made for vulgar, regional, and colloquial practice effectively neutralizes (for me, at least) the distinction. In any case, the Word of God is the foundation of all language and, Insofar as he is the greater of the two, I prefer to keep my eyes fixed on Jesus, the Son of God, the Agnus/Verbum Dei, and not allow minutiae to distract me from what really matters. James, you have captured the anticipation and experience of spiritual retreat and Divine encounter in a sacred place wonderfully well. As they say, Keep your eyes on the prize! Reply Christopher Flint January 26, 2021 Mr. Anderson — Your last point I agree with entirely. As you have said eloquently in other moments, “dealer’s choice” should prevail in most cases. I was trying to clarify my position, not criticize yours. The fact that no one shares my view demonstrates its practical trrelevance. And if the folks at the retreat use Mr. Sale’s pronunciation of “Dei”, I think he’s got a potential barn burner. To that end, I’d like to suggest a few other changes too, but I think the die has been cast. To me, this is sort of the “smile” issue all over again. If the audience buys mispronunciation or mispronounces for you, you’re in. If they don’t, you might not be. I try to be as broadly acceptable as I can and to minimize the hoops the reader is going to have to jump through to make the verse work. I treat rhyme as I do meter. I think the target is perfection. If you can’t get there and compromise is sufficiently effective (or even more effective), you do what’s best for your intent. If you can’t find such compromise, you move on to a better idea. When you sacrifice either rhyme or meter, you are giving away much of what makes formal verse so memorable. You should be getting big impact out of doing it, avoid doing it, or move on. That said, I am more confident than ever now that I am a minority of one. I’m comfortable with that. I’m well beyond changing my modus operandi now. I will always suggest it to others because I think it’s the best way to get better at what we do. When a poet says “It works for me…”, I think they’ve answered the wrong question. Whether it’s apt to work for the intended audience is the better pursuit. Satisfying yourself is far too easy. Especially the older you get. But, that said, “dealer’s choice” must indeed always prevail. Reply C.B. Anderson January 27, 2021 I do not think, Mr. Flint, that you and I have any serious disagreements. It has become a habit for me to strive for “perfection” in both rhyme and meter, though others (including James Sale) have suggested that it’s a habit I ought to break. If I vary in my meter, I try to do so with “lawful” metrical substitutions, and if I use an occasional off-rhyme, I try to make it a damn good one. Why not? Variation for variation’s sake is, for me at least, not a worthwhile project. And you are correct. This is the “smile” issue all over again — the confusion of diphthongs and disyllables. As you write, if you can’t find an effective compromise, then move on to a better idea. This tenet has always guided me, and so far few have complained about the results. I have often made substantial revisions for the sake of a single syllable. Though I would prefer not to anger our literary gods by saying so, W.B. Yeats himself was quite inaccurate at times. There, I’ve said it. If you can, try to find the later volume of Richard Wilbur’s Collected Poems. He never compromises. Reply Christopher Flint January 28, 2021 I would agree, Mr. Anderson, that we are not of dramatically distant mind. The resulting quality of your work (that I’ve seen) speaks extremely well for your similar approach. I’ve probably compromised far less often, moved on far more, and abandoned a lot more efforts than you have. I’ve also probably diminished more works in many peoples’ eyes by being far less yielding. Such is the toll of habit and principle, and I accept it. The genuineness of your following here is ample evidence that you are a student of perfecting your craft. I admire that, and I admire the typical result it seems to achieve, and I admire the quality of advice it spawns for other authors. I am a bit less likely to generalize about the character of the work or of the author than you, but your specific criticism is spot on. Where we might disagree, I would always respect our differences. You are a gift to the people who bring their work here. Christopher Flint January 26, 2021 Mike — Though never an altar boy I’ve been involved in singing a fair amount of Latin over many years. I can never recall being told to sing “day” instead of “day-ee”. That said, Latin is certainly mispronounced by lots of folks, one of the many reasons it spawned so many other languages far better suited to speech and music. Still, I find parts of the high Mass extremely powerful sounding in Latin and I feel rewarded for having studied the language. It was a big help with English vocabulary and language foundations too. The beauty of Spanish is how very phonetic it is. What you see you quickly have a fair shot at being able to pronounce. Not so at all in English. Spanish has its subtleties too, making precise pronunciation critical, but nowhere near the complexity of English vocabulary. And the fact that English borrows directly and indirectly from so many other languages doesn’t help either, not to mention varieties and dialects. On the other hand, that’s why we poets have so much to work with. I appreciate, by the way, what you do for SCP and the help you have been to me in particular. Reply Mike Bryant January 26, 2021 Thank you, Mr. Flint. I still believe the proper pronunciation is Deh-eee which is a much smoother sound than Day-eee. I also appreciate your involvement here. Reply C.B. Anderson January 27, 2021 Believe what you want to believe, Mike, but What the hell do you mean by “proper pronunciation?” And what has “smoother” got to to with anything? Latin is Latin. It’s not Spanish, Spanglish or anything else. And since when does “deh-ee” rhyme with “day” or “Dei?” Mike Bryant January 28, 2021 CB Day-ee is obviously two syllables. Deh-ee MIGHT have been one syllable before the Germans that Dr. Salemi spoke of got hold of it and made all their rules… who knows what the Romans were really saying? Hell, I’m married to Susan and I have thousands of Spanish speakers around me so I DO know a bit about the way that language “smooths” itself out… I bow to you on scholarship, however… I AM in the trenches. Mike Bryant January 28, 2021 CB, there is NO way that this will ever be settled since the Romans who spoke Latin will never be able to make it plain to us. However the Italians and the Spanish that ARE around still prounce DEI pretty damn close to the way we pronounce DAY… just saying… https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=OSq-xbEYwz8 Damian Robin January 31, 2021 Very uplifting ,James. The repeated ‘God knows’ being both literal and colloquial is very clever, (as Susan J B says above). It’s also musical and grounding. It echoes the procession through the everyday towards the high, and mighty, spiritual activities mentioned in the poem. It is also uplifting how the deep-rooted origins and contemporary usage of pronunciation have been researched and talked about from differing views in a civilized way. Something frequent on SCP and related to the the subject, strength of saying, and skill of so many of its poems and posts. Thanks for adding another, James. Reply James Sale February 1, 2021 Thanks for this Damian, much appreciated. The first LP I ever bought as a teenager – I think 1966 – was Pet Sounds by The Beach Boys. I love the whole album but especially God Only Knows by Brian Wilson. It’s still one of my all-time favourite pieces of popular music. Consider this poem, then, a homage to that immortal line! Reply Damian Robin February 1, 2021 Thanks, James, that song’s the same’s as what came to my head as I read. Reply Damian Robin February 1, 2021 [I’ve done 2 “as”s there — one concealed in “same’s” — so “as” should be dropped.] The “God only knows” of the song is directed to teenage romance, remember. It’s a love for another human that Wilson thinks he couldn’t be without. I looked up the lyrics as I can’t remembered them all though I could hum and put some words in here and there. Here’s one of the two stanza’s and refrain: If you should ever leave me Though life would still go on believe me The world could show nothing to me So what good would living do me God only knows what I’d be without you As with a lot of Beach Boys and Beatles songs — as well as other engaging pop and popular genre lyrics and melodies, leider, and verse — the motivation is immature infatuation. In the lyrics above there’s an intimation of suicide. Very teenagery, operatic, libido-heightened, emotional drama and potential trauma.Though such love song ideas have been commandeered for God in Sufi poetry, I find that a bit troubling, seductive. Maybe that’s what they’re meant to be — seduction into God’s realm. P’haps this relates to wider issues of Islam which is troubling on a lot of fronts. Absorbing though love songs of all types may be, they are mostly related to turbulent undercurrents of sex. It’s only the art of musicians and writers that helps keep these feelings accessible — acceptable even — and also a moderating culture. A culture of this kind needs to be re-built, as has been said many times on this site. You, James, and the SCP and its poets and supporters, are contributing to that project by bringing it all back to the Divine. Bravo, hats off, and thumbs up ;^) . James Sale February 1, 2021 Thanks again for this Damian. You make a number of interesting points; of small importance but fascinating to me is the fact that Brian Wilson at the time described his work as ‘teenage symphonies’, so you are very right the libido-heightened nature of these kind of works! More seriously, I agree with you that culture has to be re-built, and one aspect of that is a focus on the Divine – the spiritual agencies in our pedestrian world that elevate and provide us with a higher purpose. Lecturing people on the matter is not usually highly productive, but perhaps through the arts and poetry specifically we can provide something – a glimpse here, a glimpse there – of the beauty and power of what we are talking about. Nothing is more persuasive than beauty, which is why our art must reflect it. Reply C.B. Anderson February 3, 2021 I pray that you are right, James, because God no longer seems interested in interceding or intervening in human affairs. It’s as though He’s telling us: Look, I’ve given you everything you need, and now you’re on your own. We have to make the best of it, but so far we seem to have fallen short of even our own standards. Reply Leave a Reply to Mike Bryant Cancel ReplyYour email address will not be published.CommentName* Email* Website Notify me of follow-up comments by email. Notify me of new posts by email. Δ This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.