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The Lovely World

Behold the frozen, flaxen fields at morn–
The tall grass shining on the hills of clay
Which sunlit wisps of winter frost adorn
In dazzling white, as for a bridal day.

An air of holy wantonness imbues
The outspread earth which, quiet as a nun,
Displays her swelling curves and ardent hues,
A naked lover to the rising sun.

Like golden apples gathered in a cart
Or honey stored for winter in a hive,
I store up these sweet moments in my heart,
And think, “How grand it is to be alive!”

When suddenly, a spasm of the mind,
A shooting pang, now cramps my stretching soul;
For I must die one day and leave behind
This lovely world for deeps beyond life’s shoal!

Someday, just like these fields before me now,
I, too, must lie enshrouded, for the same
Cold, icy hand of death will brush my brow
And draw a pall of white over my frame.

Like one who climbs a rugged mount and slips,
I, too, shall slip while striving to ascend
Life’s final slope, and though my fingertips
Strain bravely, they shall slacken in the end.

At once, a gloomy shadow veils my heart:
I find myself upon a barren plain,
The world’s negative, its counterpart,
Where pain and sorrow, wrath and terror reign.

That dreaded scene of loneliness where plagues,
Disasters, famines, wars, and dark despair
Have drunk the blood of thousands to the dregs,
Whose blind, ill-fated steps had led them there.

Yet, from that dreadful place, I see unfurled
More clearly from afar, the world I love;
Behold!  It is the image of a world
Whose beams of glory stream down from above!

A world that beckons hope to build upon
More solid ground than can be found below,
A world of endless light, eternal dawn,
Whose joy no shade of death can overthrow!

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Resurrection Hope (The Old Man’s Testimony)

Yes, humanly, I am afraid of death!
But there’s Another present here with me;
Within my breast, Another lives, whose breath
Sustains my life– Someone you do not see!

I know my life is upheld by His hand,
For ere the world began, He always was;
And though I do not always understand
His ways with me, I trust in what He does.

For everything He does has for its end
His glory and my good, therefore I trust
That in the hour of death, He will defend
My helpless soul, though dust returns to dust.

Christ shed His precious blood to purchase me–
How can He then discard what He has bought?
Such failure would annul the victory
He won through all the battles that He fought.

He will not let my soul slip through the cracks
Nor suffer me to perish or be lost;
But will deliver– though all hell attacks–
The one He ransomed at so great a cost.

So shall I close my eyes in peace to know
That when I open them again, I’ll see
The smiling face of Him who loved me so
He died to make me His eternally!

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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.


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14 Responses

  1. Susan Jarvis Bryant

    Martin, both of these poems are beautiful – the introductory three stanzas of “The Lovely World” strikingly so. Our glorious green and blue home is indeed a very difficult place to leave… even with the faults you so vividly describe through powerful images as the poem progresses. I see God’s “beams of glory stream down from above” every day, and every day I revel in them… just as your poem does.

    “Resurrection Hope (The Old Man’s Testimony)” has touched me with its humbling and heartening message. These lines say it all; “Christ shed His precious blood to purchase me–/How can He then discard what He has bought?” That message should be enough to fill our hearts with joy at the sheer magnitude of God’s love for us… they should also quell any doubts that may gnaw at our souls in these turbulent times.

    Thank you very much, Martin, and a happy Easter to you!

    Reply
    • Martin Rizley

      Thank you, Susan, for sharing with me response to the poems. And belated Easter greetings to you– although I suppose in a sense Easter greetings are never belated!

      Reply
  2. C.B. Anderson

    Both of these are lovely lyric poems, Martin, with satisfying end rhymes throughout. It’s abundantly clear that you are someone whose life is His kingdom and whose heart is His throne. You have made my Friday a good one indeed.

    Reply
  3. Cynthia Erlandson

    Thank you for these, Martin. I especially love the imagery in the “The Lovely World”. The way you describe the grass adorned “with sunlit wisps of winter frost” is beautiful imagery; but you do even more when you carry that imagery through later (“I too must lie enshrouded” in “a pall of white over my frame.”)

    Reply
  4. Margaret Coats

    Two very well-expressed poems for the day and season! I particularly like “The Lovely World” for the brimming addition of new images in each stanza, always reflecting the careful development of thought. The meter is so nearly perfect that I feel there must be a syllable missing in line 27, “The world’s [bleak] negative, its counterpart.” “Bleak” is what came to my mind, but perhaps you accidentally left out a better adjective there, one that suggests colorlessness.

    Reply
    • Martin Rizley

      Thank you , Margaret, for your comments. I hadn´t noticed the imperfect meter in line 27, but you are right– since “world´s” is a single syllable word, it would be good to fill the unstressed syllable before “negative” with a modifying adjective. I like your suggestion– “bleak.” Another possibility that comes to mind is “grim.” I will give it some thought.

      Reply
  5. Norma Okun

    I like the idea that if the Lord created us why would he forget what he creates? I do not like the word purchase because you don’t buy what you create.

    Reply
    • Martin Rizley

      Thank you, Norma, for your response. Just a brief note to explain the idea behind the word “purchase” in the second poem. The idea of God “purchasing” people is related to the biblical concept of “redemption.” In the ancient world, those who had been sold into a condition of slavery could be “redeemed” from that condition by the payment of a purchase price. A benevolent person, feeling pity for someone he saw in chains in a slave market could “purchase” that person for the express purpose of taking off his chains and setting him free. The Bible´s view is that we all stand in need of being redeemed by God. For though all belong to God in one sense by virtue of His having created us– which is the reason we are accountable to Him for how we live– nevertheless, the entrance of sin into the world has separated us from a right relationship with God spiritually, resulting in a form of slavery–that is, spiritual slavery to false gods of various sorts, such as money, worldly ambition, disordered passions, lawless desires, illicit relationships, etc). To restore people to a right relationship with Himself, God sent Christ into the world to bear the penalty of sin on the cross, so that through His self-sacrifice, sinful people like us could be redeemed– purchased out of our native bondage to false gods and all the misery and guilt and hopelessness associated with that bondage, in order to enjoy true spiritual freedom through knowing and loving and serving the true and living God in a relationship of peace and fellowship with Him. Believers belong to God in a twofold sense, therefore; by creation, on the one hand, and redemption, on the other (which is the foundation of the hope of eternal life).
      I hope that sheds light on the meaning of the word “purchase” in the second poem.

      Reply
  6. Julian D. Woodruff

    These are both very fine, Mr. Rizley. The last 4train in “World” is astonishing: after your masterful evocation of the sensuous, even sensual realm we inhabit before death, the knowledge that the true, more solid and permanent home lies ahead comes as a wonderful surprise.
    Your use of alliteration is enviably skillful and well judged.

    Reply
    • Martin Rizley

      Thank you, Mr. Woodruff, for your thoughtful critique of my poems!

      Reply
  7. Martin Rizley

    Thanks you, Cynthia! I wrote those words looking out the window of a train one winter´s day when I was traversing the sweeping plains of La Mancha in central Spain on the way to the airport to catch a flight– the look of the early morning sun on the frosty landscape before me was absolutely beautiful!

    Reply

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