Lately, I have been reading through the beautiful, contemplative poems of George MacDonald. You may or may not have heard of him. His style reminds me of the prayers written by the Eastern Orthodox Saint Nikolai Velimirovich.
While MacDonald was not part of the Eastern Orthodox faith, he was the inspiration of many an author. Here are a few quotes:
Picking up a copy of Phantastes one day at a train-station bookstall, I began to read. A few hours later, I knew that I had crossed a great frontier. (CS Lewis)
Lewis went on to say that everything he ever wrote was inspired by George MacDonald. Later he even put together a devotional with 365 of MacDonald’s writings so that a Christian could have a snippet of his thoughts every day of the year.
JRR Tolkien also found him to be a very influential character. Speaking of his novel The Princess and the Goblin, GK Chesterton said it was the book that “made a difference to my whole existence.” There are numerous similar quotes by a variety of famous authors, but this man seems to be little known compared to the giants whom he either mentored or inspired.
Below are two short poems by him that are best grasped while the mind is prayerful and reflective. They come from A Book Of Strife, In The Form Of The Diary Of An Old Soul.
Poem for January 5
Thy fishes breathe but where Thy waters roll;
Thy birds fly but within Thy airy sea;
My soul breathes only in Thy infinite soul;
I breathe, I think, I love, I live but Thee.
Oh breathe, oh think, -O Love, live into me
Unworthy is my life till all divine,
Till thou see in me only what is Thine
Poem for January 14
Sometimes, hard-trying, it seems I cannot pray-
For doubt, and pain, and anger, and all strife.
Yet some poor half-fled prayer-bird from the nest,
May fall, flit, fly perch – crouch in the bowery breast
Of the large, nation-healing tree of life;
Moveless there sit through all the burning day,
And on my heart at night a fresh leaf cooling lay