Glimmers and daily bread.

In regard to my reading habits of late, I am behaving much as I did during the months when my husband was sick unto death. It must be that the challenging remodeling project, combined with the physical disorder in several rooms, are taking all my resources to deal with it all, and making me hungry for literary comfort food. It’s hard to predict what I will be able to attend to, as I am impatient and flighty. The rare poem, or children’s stories of the deep and primal sort — those seem to be the best right now.

In the high school class that I help teach at church, we are are still working our way through C.S. Lewis’s The Great Divorce, in which story George MacDonald has a part, being as he was greatly responsible for Lewis coming to faith. That got us talking about MacDonald’s books, and I was reminded of The Princess and Curdie, which I hadn’t read for a long time. I brought it into my “book larder” almost as soon as I got home on Sunday, and have been taking that nourishment.

A quote from writer Mary Karr that I read today seems pertinent: “Memorize poetry & short prose hunks. This makes language eucharistic: you eat it. You take somebody else’s passion & suffering into your body, and it transforms you.” I found this to be the case a few years ago as I read MacDonald’s Phantastes at my cabin.

When I read the words that Curdie heard Princess Irene sing, before I had run across Carr’s advice, I had immediately thought that I should learn them by heart, to be part of a laid-up treasure to draw from.

They are the kind of message that must be stored in the heart if it’s to have any meaning and use at all:


The stars are spinning their threads,
And the clouds are the dust that flies,
And the suns are weaving them up
For the time when the sleepers shall rise.

The ocean in music rolls,
And gems are turning to eyes,
And the trees are gathering souls
For the day when the sleepers shall rise.

The weepers are learning to smile,
And laughter to glean the sighs;
Burn and bury the care and guile,
For the day when the sleepers shall rise.

Oh, the dews and the moths and the daisy red,
The larks and the glimmers and flows!
The lilies and sparrows and daily bread,
And the something that nobody knows!

(I wrote again briefly about The Princess and Curdie: here.)




11 thoughts on “Glimmers and daily bread.

  1. Interesting! I too am having difficulty ” uncluttering” if that is a verb. I have been spending my time in the Psalms for my shelter of consolation and comfort. Psalm 36:7 How precious is your unfailing love, O God! All humanity finds shelter in the shadow of your wings. NLT

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  2. Beautiful! I think the best literature, poetry, etc., really do work to bring us closer to God. In poetry, it’s the attempt to capture a sentiment. In literature, it’s amazing what really good books can do for the soul! 🙂 Unfortunately, a lot of modern literature tries to separate the two, which leaves me feeling like a lot of gets pushed through book marketing and what have you is pure junk (to put it nicely).

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  3. Hmmmm, remodels can be really stressful, I am so sorry. That is hard. I understand very well how stress impacts what we read and what we need. We’ve had a lot of worries and stress in the last years and I find that Miss Read books (and DE Stevenson) to be quite helpful for me. We also have many fairy tales and are taking great delight in Tolkien’s Letters, those are so dear to us right now! God bless you dear one and get you through the remodel! A prayer for you about that today!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Ah, what a beautiful verse! I’m going to copy it down, and I should memorize it. I am in entire agreement with this post! I like listening to podcasts, some of which are for or about homeschooling. Why am I drawn to these? I can’t say. I have no children, and I’m not wishing I’d had them. I am learning something about myself, and human nature, in these podcasts – they’re mostly about giving your children a classical education. I have been going back and reading many of these books they recommend to fill up the gaps in my own. I use the Ambleside Online website for a guideline. Right now I’m reading Hawthorne’s Wonder Book – how delightful! But they frequently stress the value of memorization and it’s been nagging at me that I should try that for myself. I basically know Jabberwocky, and that’s it. Memorizing hymns and poems at my age can only be a good thing!
    This is a wonderful post, Gretchen!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. What a beautiful piece of poetry- and new to me! Your experience is a great reminder of the value of “taking in someone else’s suffering” through stories. I haven’t always felt like I could afford the time to do it lately, but maybe lacking that nourishment is one reason it’s been such a challenging season. Thanks for the thoughts, and enjoy your reading!


  6. That verse is absolutely remarkable. It reminded me of something else, and it took a long time to pull it to consciousness. But, compare its rhythm with this, from Tolkien:

    “All that is gold does not glitter,
    Not all those who wander are lost;
    The old that is strong does not wither,
    Deep roots are not reached by the frost.

    From the ashes a fire shall be woken,
    A light from the shadows shall spring;
    Renewed shall be blade that was broken,
    The crownless again shall be king.”

    It would be fun to find the dates of each, and see if one of those writers might have influenced the other, even if subconsciously. It’s such a strong rhythm, both stick in the mind quite nicely.


    1. Yes, so similar! MacDonald was known as “The grandfather of the Inklings,” having influenced and inspired Tolkien and Lewis and more, so his would have been the original.

      Lovely that you were able to find the “sister” verses – in your mind, even! 🙂


  7. That’s beautiful. I do love that kind of wondrous writing. That idea — that memorizing a text is really to eat it and make it part of you — is true. Memorizing Scripture is such an important way of making the One who is The Word deeply a part of us. That text is powerfully transformative! Lovely post.


  8. That is an utterly glorious poem! And thank you for Mary Karr’s words. I’m weeding out my “book larder” bit by bit. There’s still junk food and food that does not satisfy the soul.


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