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May 22, 2023


The following poem by James Matthew Wilson was featured in the inaugural issue of the quarterly Evangelization & Culture journal of the Word on Fire Institute. Issue I, “Creativity,” was released in autumn of 2019.

We all have heard the parable of the sower,
The man who goes out with his bag of seed
And scatters it on path and stone and soil.
How rare, we think, for work to come to fruit,
The world about us hard and parched and stingy.

We look at Malthus, upright in his pulpit,
The flint of withered cheek and weathered brow,
And almost wonder why it took so long
For men to figure out the inner truth
Of things is parsimony and decay.

The seeds themselves object to this, of course,
The lilac seed that grew amid my maple,
Its gaudy purple blossoms bent beneath
A canopy of broad-tipped, spreading leaves,
The two together tangled in their living.

As if in generous revenge, a maple
Sapling has sprouted in our pink azalea,
And wind has found out every hillside furrow
To pack with dandelions, who raise bright heads
On stout necks in defiance of all doubt.

They rustle with the cool air of the spring
And give themselves away with silver plosions.
But so does everything. The children racing
Around the playing field’s new-painted diamond;
The hand moved by some vision to draw angels;

The song escaped a passing car’s cracked window
That catches in a woman’s ear and, though
She’s late for her appointment, starts her humming;
A couple resting on a bench, their child
Asleep, the stroller rocking back and forth.

All things declare their being and their goodness
By going out beyond themselves like seeds,
Their almost endless circle of new birth
Much like the turn of planets and of stars
That imitate the circle of their source.

Members of the Word on Fire Institute have access to all new print copies of the quarterly Evangelization & Culture journal, as well as online access to all previous issues. If you are not yet a member, you can join here to see more of Issue I, “Creativity,” (Fall 2019).