“We don't read and write poetry because it's cute. We read and write poetry because we are members of the human race. And the human race is filled with passion. And medicine, law, business, engineering - these are noble pursuits and necessary to sustain life. But poetry, beauty, romance, love - these are what we stay alive for.” - Robin Williams in The Dead Poets Society
I have always loved that quote by Robin Williams, ever since seeing the movie The Dead Poets Society a number of years ago. It does a pretty good job of expressing in a nut shell what many poets feel is the impetus behind their writing. Poetry takes us beyond mere existence into the realm of living; into the experience of the stuff of life. Poetry is an expression of that experience, and poets, like writers of prose, have an innate need to express themselves. Where does this driving desire come from…this sometimes overwhelming passion, for writers of poetry and prose alike, to place their thoughts and feelings down on paper?
As a writer who is also a person of faith, I believe that this desire to express ourselves creatively through the written word comes from God. The answer to the question, “Why do we write?” can be found by looking at the nature of God.
GOD IS A CREATOR GOD… In Genesis, the very first book of the Bible, in the very first sentence of the first chapter we learn an important lesson about God. The verse starts out, “In the beginning, God created…” God could have started the Bible in any way that He wanted to, but it would seem as though his desire was to teach us from the very beginning of His special revelation that He is a “creator” God. In the rest of the first two chapters of Genesis we are introduced to God’s creative process as He brings the heavens and the earth, with all of its varied life forms into existence.
WE ARE CREATED IN GOD’S IMAGE… In Genesis chapter one, we are made privy to an ancient conversation between the three members of the godhead as they discuss the creation of man. In verse twenty-six God says, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.” We are created in the image of a creator. The desire to be creative and productive is hard-wired into who we are. Look at the verbs that are used in verse twenty-eight. After God created man (and woman) and blessed them, He told them to be fruitful, multiply, replenish, subdue, have dominion – all commands which require man to exercise a degree of creativity.
GOD IS A WRITER… Aside from the theological and historical value of the scriptures, the Bible is considered one of the greatest literary works of all time. Great literature expresses universal human experiences, and the Bible communicates these experiences in a variety of literary forms and genres including poetry, narratives, epistles, proverbs, parables, satire, and visionary writing. God, as the ultimate author of the Bible – through the instrument of his apostles and prophets – is arguably the bestselling author of all time. The Internet Public Library estimates that there have been over six billion copies of the Bible in print in over two thousand languages and dialects.
GOD IS A POET… From the book of Job to the Song of Solomon can be found some of the most beautiful poetry ever penned. It is in the book of Psalms that we get the clearest and most intimate picture of the heart of God. John Calvin, in commenting on the Psalms, said, “…all grief’s, sorrows, fears, doubts, hopes, cares, anxieties - in short, all those tumultuous agitations wherewith the minds of men are wont to be tossed - the Holy Ghost hath here represented to the life."
It is in the book of Ephesians, however, where we find the most profound and intimate example of God’s poetic nature. In verse ten of the second chapter of Ephesians we read, “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works…” The word that we translate “workmanship” is the Greek word “poiema” from which we get the word “poem”. Scripture tells us that we are Gods’ poems! Anyone who has ever written a poem can tell you that you don’t just throw a bunch of random words together and call it a poem. Poems are painstakingly and lovingly crafted. Each element is carefully chosen and fitted together in order to best represent the heart of the poet.
Why do I write? I write because I am created in the image of a creator God…because the passion to create is inherent within me. Why do I write poetry? I write poetry because my heavenly father is a poet, and I delight in being one of his poems.
By Michael R. Ritt
I am a very special poem,
My maker said it’s true.
Each word was chosen carefully,
Each rhyme and meter too.
With loving hands and careful thought,
With heavens ink and quill,
Each stanza written of my life,
Was ordered by his will.
I’m not a poem that all can read,
Or even understand.
But every line of every verse,
Was crafted by His hand.
And when the enemy tries hard
To tell me it’s not true,
I just remember I’m Gods poem,
And my friend, so are you.