Village Home

after George Enescu’s Orchestral Suite no. 3, “Villageoise”

Along the tree-lined lane he walks at dusk;
What brought him here, he cannot now remember.
The chilling breeze, the scent of pine and musk,
Suggest a tranquil eve in late September.

He saunters slowly, with a sense of wonder,
Amazed to see the woodland’s deep green hue,
The rustic sights, which time had put asunder,
Uniting newly, coming into view.

Ahead it lies, the village where he bloomed,
When first he came into this fleeting world;
He smells its air, by chimney smoke perfumed,
And sees its scenes, by dying day unfurled.

What keen delight!—to view these humble huts
Once more, where dear ones lived so long ago;
To walk these paths, still pocked with pits and ruts,
That lead into the town he used to know.

He hears the children playing in the field,
Beside the placid river gently flowing,
Whose sparkling streams are partially concealed
By massive oaks that cloak the water’s glowing.

The children chase each other and a ball;
They fly so freely, laughing as they run.
He hears their cries as, each to each, they call,
Their echoes dying with the setting sun.

Look, there it is!  The house he once called home,
Still standing where forever it has stood.
Whose face is that seen faintly in the gloam,
Who from the porch surveys the neighborhood?

A few more steps, he’s at the village inn;
Outside, men chat and chew by the spittoon;
Inside, the clients make a lively din,
While someone plays a fiery gypsy tune.

He wanders past more cottages to where
The churchyard lies so somber, dark, and still;
A flock of crows, descended on the bare,
Cold headstones caw in chorus, loud and shrill.

Just then, the solemn tolling of a bell
In yonder tower, calling all to prayer,
Reminds all passing pilgrims by its knell,
“The time is short, let all for heaven prepare!”

A few bright beams hang still in shade-filled boughs
That gently bob when evening breezes blow;
Their rustling leaves call to the lowing cows
As swaying branches scatter light below.

He sees a nearby log, and there alights
To rest a bit, while gazing all around,
To smell each wafting scent, take in all sights,
Then close his eyes and drink in every sound.

How peaceful here he feels, to be at home,
The home he knew in distant days long past;
Such moments sweet, like honey from a comb,
He’d gladly savor long and make them last.

And yet, he feels so tired, as if the eve
Had sung to him a lovely lullaby;
Distressed at his fatigue, he starts to grieve—
A sudden sadness makes him want to cry.

He knows not why, until he hears a voice
Call to him from a world far away:
“I hate to wake you, but I have no choice;
It’s time to take your meds and start the day.”

He feels a gentle hand behind his head
Help him to sit upright; he looks around,
Propped up against a pillow on his bed,
By catheters and cables firmly bound.

His pleasant vision fled by light of day,
He feels now like a babe ripped from the womb!
As tears rolls down his cheeks, he looks away
Upon the blank walls of his hospice room.



Milk and Honey

“Go up to a land flowing with milk and honey”

—Exodus 33:3

“A land that flows with milk and honey”—
__Oh, how sweet the thought!
What wondrous visions, bright and sunny,
__To my mind they brought–
These words with power to instill
__In my imagination
A sight of every vale and hill
__That crowns God’s new creation.

Yes, even as a child, I knew
__These words of prophecy,
Beyond fair Canaan, had in view
__A world without a sea,
That promised home of Abraham’s seed
__Where all will dwell in peace,
Their hopes fulfilled, their every need
__Supplied without surcease.

Why did this vision thrill me so?
__Perhaps because I knew
That milk and sweets are sure to flow
__From Him whose Word is true.
These emblems serve to reassure
__All trusting hearts below
Of blessings fresh, delicious, pure
__That God will soon bestow.

To weary pilgrims in distress
__Who faithfully endeavor
To cross this blazing wilderness,
__God promises forever
To plant them in a land ahead
__Where streams of endless pleasure,
Through lush and verdant fields outspread,
__Flow freely, without measure.

They gush from crystal springs on high,
__And sparkle in the sun,
In waves whose infinite supply
__Will never cease to run.
And from the fertile fields made rich
__By such life-giving streams,
Rare fruits will grow, the likes of which
__Grow only now in dreams.

So each new day, when I revive
__And pour milk in my glass,
Or when I hear a buzzing hive
__As through the fields I pass,
I see that land, by heaven kissed,
__In vision, as I roam;
It shines so brightly through the mist—
__My everlasting home!



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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26 Responses

  1. Shamik Banerjee

    I’m mesmerised by both the poems, Mr. Rizley. The grievous ending to your first poem was totally unexpected. But I guess that’s the reality that life hurls at us. Your second poem’s cadence is seamless, and it filled me with joy.

    • Martin Rizley

      Thank you so much for your feedback, Shamik! I’m glad that both poems resonated with you on an emotional level.

  2. Roy Eugene Peterson

    Those are two wonderfully wistful poems that draw us into deep thought with images reflected in our minds of our own memories. I can feel the vibrancy of the “Village Home” as the mind recalls the bucolic places where we first may have lived and grown to adulthood. My own hometown had 500 population. “Milk and Honey” finds me reminiscing about my childhood on the farm where there was always milk to drink and where my father had beehives installed in the clover and alfalfa fields producing honey for us saved in Mason jars for consumption all year long.

    • Martin Rizley

      Roy, I am so glad that there were so many things in both poems that you could relate to from your own past experience. As you know, it is very gratifying to a poet to know that something he has written has drawn people “into deep thought” and moved them to reflect.

    • Julian D. Woodruff

      Two wonderful poems, Mr. Rizley, in the one on an idyllic past, retreavable only in dream, contrasted with a bleak present, and in the second a glorious future to prepare for. Many will empathize with these aentiments.
      The first is a real stunner, with careful, subtle preparation for the close. Most impressive.

  3. Paul A. Freeman

    What a contrast, both in topic and style (meter, rhythm, rhyme), the first poem so melancholy, the second so joyful, but both compelling.

    A lot to learn from these two poems. Thanks for the reads, Martin.

    • Martin Rizley

      Thanks for your feedback, Paul. Though it is true that two poems contrast greatly in mood and outlook, they are also closely related in theme, as my comments to Cheryl below point out.

  4. Cheryl Corey

    The last three stanzas of your “Village” poem are quite startling and make for a bittersweet ending. I’m curious – what is the connection to Enescu’s “Suite”? Was that your inspiration?

    • Martin Rizley

      Hi Cheryl
      The poem seeks to express in words the same images that the composer George Enescu, Romania’s greatest composer, sought to express in music in his highly nostalgic, impressionistic Suite No. 3. The suite is overtly programmatic and conveys the memories of an older man reflecting on his childhood in the village where he grew up.

      Listening to the suite, one hears all these images described musically: the rustic village, children playing, the old homestead, the shimmering river, the cemetery with the squawking crows and tolling bell. The third movement is dreamy, with a sadness and wistfulness that makes one realize the ephemeral character of childhood and of life itself in this mortal sphere. Perhaps that is why I ended the poem as I did, to underscore this reality.

      If the first poem speaks of a past landscape, no longer tangible, which fades away, the second speaks of a future landscape, not yet tangible, which is to endure forever.

      Here is a link to the work by Enescu:

  5. Gigi Ryan

    Oh, that the first poem would be placed on the walls in nursing homes and hospice houses, or anywhere the elderly are cared for. What a beautiful story that reminds us that, though often needy, the elderly still think and feel deeply. I will think about this poem for a long time.

    • Martin Rizley

      Thank you, Gigi, for your feedback (sorry for the long delay in responding!). It is so true that we often forget that the diminished physical capacity of the elderly to care for themselves, move freely, etc., does not necessarily imply a diminished capacity to think and feel deeply. Loss of hearing, eyesight, physical strength, in no way implies a loss of humanity. The marks of our common humanity are visible in the feeblest members of our race.

  6. Cynthia Erlandson

    “Village Home” is certainly very poignant. You must have done a good job of subtle foreshadowing — though even with that, its ending was still jolting — I began to suspect this was a dream in the verse that describes the lovely way the children were playing outside, because that seemed to put the scene in the past; children now play mostly (unfortunately) with their electronic screens. The imagery and musicality of the poem were beautiful throughout the poem, as they were also in “Milk and Honey.”

    • Martin Rizley

      Thank you, Cynthia. You mentioned the “jolting” ending of the poem, and to tell you the truth, the ending came to me in a rather jolting way, in that I had no idea when I began the poem how it was going to end. The dreamy atmosphere was inspired by the dreamy character of the third movement in the piece I mentioned above by Enescu. I thought of the images as belonging to a dream, but only at the end did the idea come to me to highlight the contrast between past and present by having the dreamer wake up in a hospice! Thank you for your appreciative comments.

  7. C.B. Anderson

    The language in both is astonishingly limpid, so lucid that the narratives felt as though being seen rather than merely read. Don’t wake me up after my dream has ended!

    • Martin Rizley

      Thanks, C.B., for your feedback. I agree, there are some dreams that one wishes would go on forever– that´s why, even as a little boy, I cried buckets the first time I watched the Wizard of Oz on t.v. I wanted it to go on forever, and didn´t want to wait a whole year to watch it again! But of course, the present keeps calling us back to wakeful reality, with the future before us, where hopefully, we find better prospects for happiness than in our .dreams of a vanished past- as the second poem points out!

  8. Jeff Eardley

    Martin, it is wonderful to discover new music. I had never heard of Enescu but I am listening to the “Villageoise” as I read these. “Village Home” is so evocotive but I was not prepared for the poignant, sad conclusion. A most moving piece on the fragility of life and memories that can carry us through even in
    the darkest of days. “Milk and Honey” is lovely and optimistic. Your poetry always shines for me, and Enescu is a bonus indeed. Thank you so much.

    • Martin Rizley

      Thank you so much, Jeff, for sharing your thoughts. I am so glad my poems resonate with you– and I can´t tell you how thrilled I am to know that you have given an earlier poem, “the Immigrant”, a lovely musical setting!

  9. Gary Borck

    Two wonderful poems, Martin. The first containing masterfully written descriptive lines. Such poetic eloquence, and then that ending that knocked me for six! The second was very uplifting.

    • Martin Rizley

      Gary, I really appreciate you expressing your appreication of the poems. I didn´t want to leave people feeling down, which is why I submitted the more “uplifting” second poem along with the first. I am going to have to look up the expression you use in describing your response to the ending of the first poem; I´ve never heard of being “knocked for six”!

      • Gary Borck

        Martin, I need to say that I used that phrase as an exaggeration to emphasize that the ending was a total surprise and nothing more than that. I didn’t mean, as the definition states that I was ‘upset or badly affected’ by it, because I wasn’t. I enjoyed the whole poem (both poems).

        I wouldn’t expect the phrase to be well known in North America as it is a term taken from the sport of cricket, which I believe is not a popular sport in The States.

  10. Margaret Coats

    Martin, both are exceptionally beautiful descriptions of home, and thus function well as a pair on that theme. Let me notice two details that set the first one apart. The kindness of the hospice caregiver is exactly what one would want from someone in her position, but is so rarely evident. It’s good for you to portray the ideal of expressing regret for interrupting peaceful sleep–but there are still the “blank walls” showing the place is not home. No wonder many persons would prefer to die at home if at all possible, even if it happens more quickly and less comfortably than in a medical facility. May your pictures of home help some of us hope to provide “home” at the end of life for our dear ones if we can–with prayers helping guide them to the better home of milk and honey.

    • Martin Rizley

      Margaret, you have captured well the connection between the two poems. The idyllic mood of the first is shattered at the end by the sad realities that confront us in this fallen world– aging, weakness, pain, impersonal attendance by professional “caregivers”, blank walls, death itself. But our experience of loveliness, beauty and domestic comforts here below all point to the prospect of a “better home” that awaits all whose hope is in the glorious Person and saving work of Christ, who has gone ahead, as He said, to “prepare a home in the Father´s house” for His disciples.

  11. Susan Jarvis Bryant

    Martin, both poems are beautifully written and the smooth, mellifluous flow of the language has lifted me beyond your written word to places swirling in my head with memories I often draw on. I particularly like ‘Village Home’ because it reminds me of my late grandfather. From the sad, stale-smelling retirement home he spent his last days in, he often told me stories of outings to the seaside where he waltzed with his late wife on the sand… our dreams are incredible gifts… gifts that transport us to places beyond our earthly pain. Thank you for reminding me of that.

    • Martin Rizley

      Susan, Despite the long delay in responding to you, I wanted to let you know how much I appreciate your remarks. I think it is true that we all have a little room in some corner of our minds where memories reside of idyllic moments when our hearts were filled to overflowing with a sense of life´s blessings; for your granfather, that was waltzing with his wife on the sand. One of the things I love about poetry is the way it can evoke memories of our own past through words that “touch the pulse” of our common humanity, enabling us to feel our own hearts beating. I agree with you that dreams, especially nostalgic dreams, are wonderful gifts that “transport us to places beyond our earthly pain.” Their ephemeral character is designed, I believe, to stir up in us a sense of longing for that more enduring and substantial blessedness that does not fade away, of which the second poem speaks.

  12. David Hollywood

    These are two lovely poems, albeit I was knocked off my line of thought by the unexpected ending of ‘Village Home,’ but it still held for me. There is a sense of that wonderful book ‘Men and the Fields’ by Adrian Bell which resides in both, and thank you for such wistfulness.

    • Martin Rizley

      David, I find it a real pleasure to write “wistful” poetry, and I am glad that you enjoy reading it! Maybe the inclination to wistfulness has something to do with getting older, which brings with it a tendency to reflect nostalgically on the past. I have not heard of the book you mention by Adrian Bell, but I am planning to look it up on Amazon. Thanks for your sharing your thoughts.


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