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For HE Who Is The Light

There’s been a spell of nightmares since He left.
Like Job, I am the likeness of distress.
I pine in piles of crumbling stones bereft;
deprived of Him I’m worn in wretchedness.
When thunderstorms erupt with rage and rain
and darkness, like a shroud, engulfs the night,
the wind howls like a creature through my brain,
with echoes of my plunge from pious height.
Afflictions like a plague possessed me whole
now pale in dawn’s exalted glow of grace;
it cloaks a gown celestial round my soul
and with a prayer I’m blessed by His embrace.
__My faith was flawed when prey to pain and plight,
__but now I reap from He who is the light.

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.

Redeemed

Aquiver in the luscious flowered bower,
she plucked a plump ripe apple from the tree.
A scheming serpent knew its potent power
to cloak a curse round human destiny.
When thunderstorms soon trumpeted upheaval
she shivered in a snowy windswept squall.
Then lightning flashed with forty days of evil;
the serpent slithered close to cheer her fall.
Behold, dawns rise aglow in gold reprise,
caressing flowr’ing blossoms, vines and fruit.
Exalted light shines bright as darkness dies
and sparrows’ songs are splendor absolute.

Now wreathed with wings where angels harmonize,
she flies in prophesied eternal skies.

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Gail Kaye Naegele has worked as a nurse and has poetry published in The Poetry Collective.


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14 Responses

  1. C.B. Anderson

    I liked these sonnets, G.K., but it’s hard to explain why. Let’s just say that I liked the way they made me feel. A few small points:

    In the last line of the first one, you got “from He who is the light” just right. Some writers would have been tempted to use the objective-case “Him,” as the object of the preposition “from,” but the actual object of the preposition is the entire phrase “He who is the light.” Not everyone understands this.

    I like the alliteration in such phrases as “My faith was flawed when prey to pain and plight,” but even better was (in the second poem “She plucked a plump ripe apple” because you understood that alliteration is not just about initial letters. We call that forbidden fruit and apple because we are more familiar with it, but it most certainly would have been a pomegranate.

    Also in the second poem you write “flowr’ing,” which should have been “flow’ring,” but in any case the use of an apostrophe is completely unnecessary because an attentive reader who is sensitive to meter will know to elide the “e” since it is a mere schwa.

    Reply
    • g.KayeNaegele

      Thank you very much C.B. I am always interested in learning from the comments of other poets. Your comment about the last line is new information for me, and I appreciate it. I probably would have used “He” at any rate, I am always attuned to issues of sound, and yes, I was once told by a friend that the ‘p’ alliteration was a tad over the top, but, being quite musically inclined I just can’t help myself. Yes, it helps when assonance lends itself as well. Just curious to know why you think it was a pomegranate? At any rate, I assume its a symbolic issue. Yes, you are right, and I’ve been told before about the apostrophe, I’m just too sensitive when I think I’m hearing an extra syllable. Thank you very much C.B. for your helpful comments.. GK

      Reply
      • C.B. Anderson

        Regarding the pomegranate, that is the luscious fruit that grows in the Middle East. Apples come from Europe. In fact, the pomegranate is one of the seven species in Judaic lore. The others are: wheat, barley, fig, date, olive and the (grape) vine. A wise man (Charlie Sutherland) once told me, “Always trust your (inner) ear.

  2. g.KayeNaegele

    Thank you very much C.B. I am always interested in learning from the comments of other poets. Your comment about the last line is new information for me, and I appreciate it. I probably would have used “He” at any rate, I am always attuned to issues of sound, and yes, I was once told by a friend that the ‘p’ alliteration was a tad over the top, but, being quite musically inclined I just can’t help myself. Yes, it helps when assonance lends itself as well. Just curious to know why you think it was a pomegranate? At any rate, I assume its a symbolic issue. Yes, you are right, and I’ve been told before about the apostrophe, I’m just too sensitive when I think I’m hearing an extra syllable. Thank you very much C.B. for your helpful comments.. GK

    Reply
  3. g.KayeNaegele

    An intriguing history lesson, thank you C.B. To see how later cultures, interpreted the Bible in their own cultural beliefs. I have heard questioned the race of Jesus himself, though I have not researched it. I did hear debate that Jesus was not the fair blue eyed white man portrayed in western art.

    Reply
    • C.B Anderson

      We know, G.K., that Jesus was a Semite and spoke a Semitic language (Aramaic), and we can infer that he did not have blue eyes or pale skin.

      Reply
      • g.KayeNaegele

        Yes, that makes perfect sense. The lessons of mankind’s insistence on remaking their heroes/deities in their own image, reflects the ever presence of racial/ethnic ego and divisive nature. Thanks again C.B., history of humanity is intriguing, sad, and seems not to improve with time. Regards,

  4. Susan Jarvis Bryant

    Gail, I enjoyed reading both of these poems. ‘For HE Who Is The Light’ is my favorite as it speaks directly to my heart. I believe the strain of the last two years will have many relating to these lines:
    I pine in piles of crumbling stones bereft;
    deprived of Him I’m worn in wretchedness.
    I can fully appreciate how easily faith can give way to fear and the journey back to ‘HE Who Is The Light’ brings with it great rewards. The closing couplet says it all. Thank you!

    Reply
    • g.KayeNaegele

      Thank you deeply Susan, yes, the last few years have been riddled with problems for society, often without worldly answers. Perhaps these are trials we may wonder; (as Job suffered) to stimulate the need for divine guidance. I’m glad you found these meaningful. Gail

      Reply
  5. Margaret Coats

    Gail, these are lovely and graceful poems. I suspect the main reason their beauties have attracted so few commentors is the bad grammar in the title and final line of the first one. Readers who sense bad grammar tend to shy away, even if they are not sure what is wrong. And C. B. Anderson offered an incorrect justification.

    There is an unusual construction in which a phrase or clause can serve as object of a preposition, but not when there is a pronoun object. What you write here is a pronoun “he” followed by a relative clause introduced by another pronoun, “who.” This construction is problematic for many writers. Because “he” and “who” refer to the same person, writers think they should be in the same grammatical case (“he who” or “him whom.” But in your lines, BOTH of those choices are bad grammar. The pronouns must agree in gender and number (they are masculine and singular), but the case of each is determined by its use in the sentence. The first one should be objective case “him” as the object of a preposition (“for” or “from”). “Who” should be nominative case because it is the subject of the verb “is.” Thus “Him who” is correct.

    Now that’s the grammar but, Gail, I think you are deliberately misusing grammar for an important purpose. Poets can do that. In this poem, you seem to refer to the unutterable divine name. There are two significant pronunciations of it in the Bible. At the burning bush, where God has given Moses a mission to the Hebrews, Moses asks for God’s name. This makes sense, because Moses may have been born a Hebrew, but he was raised as an Egyptian prince, and Hebrew slaves will not trust him unless he can prove he is the servant of their God. Recent translations of God’s reply read, “I AM WHO AM. Tell them ‘I AM’ sent you.” Jesus uses the sacrosanct name in reference to Himself when He says, “Before Abraham was, I AM.” We know He pronounced the holy name because His hearers took up stones to kill Him. By His time, any pronunciation of the name (other than by the high priest in ritual context) was considered the capital crime of blasphemy.

    You, Gail, seem to name God “HE who is the Light,” using capital letters in the title to signal a special intent in naming. I notice your particular interest in naming by your new use of an unusual name to head your comments here and on other poems! You may have heard (as I did when I studied Hebrew) that the divine name, if it has any trace of personal endings, shows third-person endings, not first-person as in the “I AM” interpretations by scholars. It does seem to have the root of the verb “to be,” but the meaning remains obscure. And there is no trace of a relative pronoun “who” in the sacred letters. As a poet, you can choose whatever usage you like, and I sympathize, but I might recommend hyphens, quotation marks, italics, or more capitalization to assure readers you are making an artistic choice and not a mistake. Note that Susan used quotation marks in her comments, to indicate she understood your expression as a name.

    “Redeemed” makes the redeemed figure feminine, which is the grammatical gender of the usual word for “soul” in sacred languages Hebrew, Greek, and Latin. Thus it could apply to Eve, Gail Kaye, or any soul or group of souls (including the Church). The pomegranate is a figure for the Church in Christian iconography, because of the presence of uncounted seeds closely united within one fruit. We got “apple” for the forbidden fruit in part because “malum” in Latin means both “apple” and “evil.” The last I heard, experts favored the fig as the fruit that was forbidden. I believe it is the only fruit specifically named in that story, when Adam and Eve used fig leaves as covering when they realized they were naked. That little bit of understanding would have happened right under the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil!

    Reply
    • g.KayeNaegele

      Margaret, I’m sending intrigued and thankful applause to you, with my sincerest thanks. I feel, and wish that I could be sitting in an advanced English grammar class, I do love to learn. I must think about all you said. I had heard about the title, and I do understand. I have a BS in Psychology and Nursing, but have engaged in multiple creative learning areas. I enjoyed writing when I had the time, but didn’t take it seriously until I discovered the beauty of classic poetry. I do thoroughly understand your point about the pronouns matching, I’ve had a number of mentors along the way who were very helpful and appreciated. But, though grammar was mentioned, in terms of caps and commas mostly, the emphasis of my teaching was more geard towards sound; rhythm, rhyme and meter, and the techniques of alliteration and assonance when possible, lyricism and metaphors. So, when I hear the title of this poem, it sounds more lyrical to me than using the correct pronoun and I think people know what I mean. But, I am curious to do the right thing here. So I will contact my friend and Phd Engligh mentor and ask her.
      Concerning the fruit in question, history is intriguing. It seems totally plausible it be any of the fruits you mention. I have two questions concerning that. You will notice the preponderance of P alliteration in that line and apple carries that sound. Although, I could easily dispense with at least one P sound. In terms of a poet’s desire to have the meaning discernable and of interest to the reader and considering the challenges already existent in metaphors, do you think it not acceptable to use an apple anyway. Not all will recognize the other fruits revelance; considering also that this poem is a fantasy, really. I will give it all consideration Margaret with some educated advice. Thanks again, very much. Oh, I have two legal names due to a divorce, and a birth name (and a username), as I had, at first, no knowledge of how my passion for classic poetry would grow. Thanks again, all of us.

      Reply
      • Margaret Coats

        It is certainly acceptable to call that forbidden fruit an apple! In our artistic traditions, it is an apple more often than anything else, and thus you are using the word for it that readers expect. And no one can prove it was a different fruit. We don’t have an inventory of what grew in the Garden of Eden, and if we did, I think it would include all the fruits God created. The climate was perfect there. We have to suppose it the best of all possible gardens, and we don’t know exactly where it was anyway.

      • g.KayeNaegele

        Hello Margaret: Sorry about the delayed response. I’m going to quote directly the answer I received from my friend in response to your critique.
        ; if an object, use “him”. But wait, isn’t the pronoun an object on the tail end of an implied action verb in “for him”? Yes, if you stopped there, but it becomes a subject in “he is”, and “He Who Is The Light” takes on biblical gravitas as a recognizable formal reference in whole. So, while an argument can always be made, it would sound very awkward to use “him” in this instance. Furthermore, regardless of grammar rules, the bottom line to any argument is that you are the final arbiter of your own writing, and you’ve got a poetic license to prove it.

        Thank you Margaret for your time and inspiring me to learn more about the topic. Happy Holidays

  6. g.KayeNaegele

    Margaret: Sorry, don’t know why, but the first paragraph of her quote is missing in the former text, and I don’t know how to edit there: so, here is the beginning to where it begins previously: “Trust your ear. Your usage is correct, but I can see why your friend is confused because this one is tricky. The way I learned to tell the difference is to break down the sentence or phrase into its basic components: subject, action, object. If the pronoun is needed as a subject, use “he”, of an object use “him. THE QUOTE BEGINS IN THE PREVIOUS COMMENT, Sorry, I am relatively new here, and I would have PM’d you if I know how.

    Reply

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