"A View of the Roman Campagna from Tivoli" by Claude Gellée‘The View from the Hill’ by Martin Rizley The Society March 8, 2021 Beauty, Poetry 13 Comments . “He has made everything beautiful in its time. . .” (Ecclesiastes 3:11) The sun shines so brightly on this verdant hill Where I sit in silence so peaceful and still; I’ve come here alone to survey the fair scene Spread out now before me, so fragrant and green. A balmy breeze blows here, so easy and free; The song of the lark and the buzz of the bee, The whispering grass and the coo of the dove Draws from my heart songs of thanksgiving and love. I love this place where I can rest for a while And look out and see, spanning many a mile, The wide earth outstretched and the path that I’ve trod That’s brought me thus far by the mercy of God. Below lies a patchwork, so varied and bright, Where meadows and groves mingle shadow and light, And placid brooks gleam beneath cool, shady bowers Near fields full of glowing and graceful wildflowers. There sheep and cows graze on fresh clover and grass Beneath dreamy skies where the lazy clouds pass, And one lonely seagull keeps circling on high, In search of the sea with a sad, mewing cry. I see running hedgerows and hushed country lanes Where country maids walk in the eve with their swains Past humble thatched cottages, old water mills, Meandering footpaths that lead to the hills. All this I can see—yet I see so much more! Perched high on this hill, other scenes come before The eye of remembrance, as here I behold Dear faces appearing from sweet days of old. I see a child rising so high on a swing Together with friends whom he gladly would bring, Set free from the earth, on a mission to Mars— Just look as in fancy they fly to the stars! I hear the child laugh as he skips down the road, A stranger to care and life’s heart-crushing load; I watch him drift off at the end of the day (For boyhood’s brief season must soon pass away). I see a youth sitting at twilight alone To watch the sun set, as the treetops, wind-blown, Speak quietly to his young heart, as the air Blows through his own soul, kindling reverence and prayer. I see him now filled with the pangs of first love That move him to tears like a sad mourning dove; I see his heart break and its blossom lie blighted By longings unmet and by love unrequited. I see the same man again, now somewhat older, Kiss gently the head resting on his broad shoulder; He grasps his wife’s hand, as into the hearth gazing, He gives thanks to God as they watch the fire blazing. I see him now, belly round, with his hair thinning With ear to ear smile, at the whole wide world grinning; He tears up then watching, with pride and elation, His “little girl” pass him at her graduation. I look once again, and I see down the lane An older man walking, his heart full of pain, He walks, shoulders drooping, world weary and worn, Exhausted and saddened by troubles he’s borne. He keeps drawing closer and starts up the hill, To find a fine perch, like a bird on a sill, From where he can look back across the long years And pour forth his sorrows and melt into tears. Dear man, how I know you! I share every sigh, The tears on your cheek, and your long wailing cry. I think of my childhood, my youth and my prime, And grieve every loss with the passage of time. I long to hold on to these beauties forever: The sweetness of childhood and youthful endeavor, The freshness of things when they’re newly discovered, The joy of adventure, rare treasures uncovered. The strength of young manhood that slowly is drained, As wisdom increases through life’s lessons gained; Oh, yes, my heart’s rent with deep wounds by time’s knife And bleeds for the briefness and losses of life! How beautiful, oh! but how heart-piercing, too, To see from this hilltop so poignant a view; To look back at days that can never return, So bright, yet so fleeting, like candles that burn. Oh, how can I put into words what I feel? An ache that persists like these church bells that peal Across the wide valley, so crisp and so clear, To count all the hours of the swift passing year. The solemn bells toll, and this message proclaim– That nothing on earth will stay always the same; For change and decay are in all that we see. Earth’s beauties point upward—that’s where I would be. So now, youthful pilgrims, I bid you adieu! I’m heading up higher and hope to meet you When we reach the top, if you choose to ascend; I’ll look for you when we have both reached our end. Keep to the right path, and you’ll surely arrive, Where strength, love and beauty forever will thrive; God bless your life’s journey; your heart may He fill With thanks as you savor each view from the hill. . . Martin Rizley grew up in Oklahoma and in Texas, and has served in pastoral ministry both in the United States and in Europe. He is currently serving as the pastor of a small evangelical church in the city of Málaga on the southern coast of Spain, where he lives with his wife and daughter. Martin has enjoyed writing and reading poetry as a hobby since his early youth. 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) 13 Responses David Paul Behrens March 8, 2021 In my humble opinion, this is a great poem. Reply Martin Rizley March 8, 2021 David, thanks for sharing your response to the poem; I´m so pleased that you liked it. Reply C.B. Anderson March 8, 2021 This poem gave us a sweeping view of the vast panorama where an archetypal life is played out. The anapestic meter is the perfect vehicle for the lush images, the unabashed sentiment, and the logical thrust that drives the poem forward into each successive temporal node. The reader is able not only to experience vicariously the feelings of the narrator, but also to experience them directly, as he sees clearly laid out what the narrator himself is regarding. Reply Martin Rizley March 8, 2021 C.B. I appreciate your thoughtful analysis of the poem; I like the expression “archetypal life” which highlights the fact that there are certain common experiences human beings share. That is what makes possible, I suppose, that sense of identification with a narrator´s feelings, as the various images used evoke parallel memories in the mind of the reader. Reply C.B. Anderson March 11, 2021 Yes, the heart and the soul draw breath from the same lungs. Pneuma is pretty much all we’ve got. Paul Freeman March 8, 2021 Very readable and very enjoyable. The breadth of the story told by the poem reminded me of Telegraph Road, an epic song (and my favourite song) by Dire Straits. Reply Martin Rizley March 8, 2021 I am not familiar with that song, Paul, but I will check it out. Thanks for your feedback. Reply Susan Jarvis Bryant March 8, 2021 Martin, whenever I see your name I know I’m in for a poetic treat, and ‘The View from the Hill’ is wistful, beautiful, spiritual and insightful. From the shining Ecclesiastes quote to the blessing of the final closing couplet your words have touched my heart. I love the scenes from nature (to sit amid God’s wonders has always soothed me during troubled times), and these potent lines; “Oh, yes, my heart’s rent with deep wounds by time’s knife/And bleeds for the briefness and losses of life!” make me want to savor every moment more… much, much more. Thank you! Reply Martin Rizley March 9, 2021 Thank you, Susan, for expressing to me your heartfelt response to the poem. Since you are from England originally, you may have recognized the English natre of the countyside I was describing, a “patchwork” landscape with hedgerows, thatched cottages and water mills. I was in fact thinking of a particular hill in England when I wrote it, Bredon Hill in the county of Worcester. Although I have never been there personally, various photos of the hill and a lovely symphonic rhapsody by the English composer Julius Harrison entitled Bedon Hill, served as inspiration for the poem. I wanted to express in the poem the same mood of nostalgic wistfulness that Harrison has expressed so beautifully in his music, which can be heard at the following link: https://youtu.be/5ZY_JTU6ynA Reply Jeff Eardley March 9, 2021 Martin, what a delightful read. As an Englishman who loves to climb hills, I have stood on Bredon many times, the words of Housman’s “Shropshire Lad” in my head. Although Bredon is not in Shropshire, it looks over to that most rural of English Shires. Across from Bredon is the glorious switchback ridge of the Malverns where we are firmly in Sir Edward Elgar territory, the music of George Butterworth echoes off all these hills. You have summed up this very special piece of England perfectly and I will look out the Harrison piece with interest. Reply Martin Rizley March 9, 2021 Jeff, Your description of the area around Bredon Hill makes me want to hop on a plane and go there at once. I guess I´ll have to wait a while– until Covid restrictions are scaled back; in the meantime, armchair journeys to the “sceptered isle” will have to suffice, with the music of Elgar and Butterworth playing in the background– composers whose music long been a source of delight for this Anglophile! If you like Vaughan Williams´ “Lark Ascending,” you will love the piece by Harrison– it breathes the same fresh English air. Reply Jeff Eardley March 9, 2021 Martin, I have loved, forever, the Lark Ascending. Whenever I am in reflective mood on a hilltop, I often hear Morten Lauridson’s “Oh Magnum Mysterium.” Thank you again, I will re-read this afternoon and then go out and climb a big hill. David Watt March 9, 2021 Martin, your poem is rich with the images of life, and spiritually uplifting. I was particularly struck by the same lines praised by Susan. I always look forward to reading your life affirming work. Reply Leave a Reply 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. This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.