Psalm 148: A Free Verse Rendering

This is a free verse rendering of Psalm 148 I wrote for a poetry class in college. This one needs work, and it’s been called overdone. I present this unfinished version to you all for feedback and criticism. Please comment with thoughts, first impressions, or suggestions.

Praise the Lord from the heavens
Be cosmic bread, leaven of glory,
All seven spheres tune ears to hear what the moon and sun
Have begun to sing in the star-deep sea of the sky.
Let firmaments, assured of enduring,
Remember the commands and decrees
Of the Lord who ceded them their high boundary.
And then tip-top over, to the downward plunge,
Back to the sea, that roaring mirror of the skies;
Leviathan, still unhooked, bows his heads with their fiery eyes; Continue reading

Glory Too Fast

Here is a recording I came across yesterday.
Listening to it was one of the few things that have left me speechless in my life.

Once you have listened to a few minutes of it, allow me to explain why I was speechless.
The modern paradigm of evolution has, by and large, attempted to rob us of any concept of objective beauty. If the world and all that is in it is not in some way a guided thing, if it developed on its own, then one would expect to see many fundamental, deep, and unsurpassable divides between species. There would be a fundamental incompatibility between the multitude of branching paths,just like technology of different generations.

This proves it wrong.

The crickets are singing in several octaves, but the scale they are using is the exact (and I mean perfectly) same eight-tone scale that Bach, Beethoven, Schutz, Mozart, Handel, Praetorius, Josquin de Prez, and any other classic composer used. Apart from accidentals (halfway points between pitches) the crickets are using our good old, Sound of Music do, re, mi, fa, so, la, ti, do. It is a musical system of harmonic sounds that function together naturally: the world of sound is built so that these sounds actually belong together and work, just as certainly as a biochemical reaction or gravity. It’s built into the world.

How is this overlap between crickets and humans even possible? It’s a sound too fast for our ears to hear. It wasn’t our sound. Why should we expect to find it appealing, on an evolutionary framework? There’s simply no way for it to benefit us, or for us even to be aware of its existence.

But when we find it, it is like finding a painting on a rock in the middle of a forest. Someone left it there. It was supposed to be beautiful, and it was placed there intentionally, for us to find. Pure gift. It is as astonishing as the footprint in the sand was to Robinson Crusoe. We thought we were alone, and look: someone has been here the whole time.

Not only this, but the way it was found implies an even more organic connection between crickets and humans. Not only does the sound sound beautiful to both, but it becomes beautiful to us only when adjusted to match our lifespan. We didn’t just slow it down until it sounded good: there was a mathematical operation that occurred and it resulted in beauty. In logical form, it looks like this: [cricket music:cricket lifespan :: Human lifespan: ???]. There is a fundamental proportionality here, a concept that resonates far more with a medieval perspective on life than with our modern one. For the medievals, the world was structured according to proportions, mathematical regularity, and the world was a dance. The planetary spheres made music to the Lord. Everything was organized and that organization produced beauty and music. For them, these crickets would fit right in. For us, it is a sledgehammer to the brittle concrete of skepticism and reductionistic materialism. Both crickets and humans were made by the same God, a God who is beautiful. And that is why the crickets sound like choirs. Because they know to sing God’s praise. It was glory too fast for us, but we caught up. Our ears are tuned now a little better to hear those praises, and we must, if we value our humanity, learn to join in.

Listen.
And sing.

Psalm 148 (Free Verse)

Praise the Lord from the heavens
Be cosmic bread, leaven of glory,
All seven spheres tune ears to hear what the moon and sun
Have begun to sing in the star-deep sea of the sky.
Let firmaments, assured of enduring,
Remember the commands and decrees
Of the Lord who ceded them their high boundary.
And then tip-top over, to the downward plunge,
Back to the sea, that roaring mirror of the skies,
Leviathan, still unhooked, bows his heads with their fiery eyes;
All, to the last glittering drop of minnow, those flashing haiku,
Sing of a king.
Weather storms and dashes out the dance meter,
Vaulted clouds pour out, roar out
The praise of hail and sled-snow and chain-lightning
And the fire’s glow.
Earth, green womb, mankind’s tomb, takes up the chorus
Among the harvest,
And in the forest, smallest to largest,
From the oaks to the apples, from cricket to cattle,
Dappled birds winging, singing,
Cry to the king,
Men and their armies, judges, rulers, wise men, prodigals, fools,
Lovers in harmony bow the knee
Only to the Lord.
Glorious is He!
Exalting his horn, night to dawn,
Saints who praise, beloved of him, bosom-close, bounty-laden, all!
Remember, then render
Praise.