Tuesday, 10 January 2017
This Is Just To Say
This Is Just To Say
William Carlos Williams, 1883 - 1963
I have eaten
that were in
you were probably
they were delicious
and so cold
I didn’t deliver my sermon on the Baptism of Jesus yesterday as worship was cancelled due to bad weather (Mother Nature should be sent to the naughty stool). The sermon I prepared is attached—it is described by Lorna as a sermon in search of a congregation so I guess you fit the bill.
Consequently I had some unplanned time. I was listening to ‘This American Life’ on NPR. The particular episode was ‘Mistakes Were Made’, broadcast on April 8, 2008, about faux apologies and used the above poem, which is apparently quite well known, as an example. However, it is not one that I was familiar with. Does it strike you that the author is really sorry? As someone on the program said the “Forgive me” is more of a command than a request. The author doesn’t really seem sorry for his deed. He seems to be justifying it because, after all, they were delicious; so sweet; so cold. I guess he just couldn’t help himself. It could be a variation of “the devil made me do it.”
The program ended with examples of apologies in the style of the poem. Some were very amusing; some were revealing; and some were poignant. But all revealed the truth about human nature. One which particularly resonated with me is by David Rackoff:
This is just to say
He was a troublemaker
And wouldn’t shut up.
We wouldn’t have killed him
If we knew
He was The Lord.
I’m not so sure that “they” would have done anything differently if they had known who he was; but it is nice to think so. If you want to consider that some more I can refer you to the novel by Dostoyevsky, The Brothers Karamazov; specifically the poem in the novel, The Grand Inquisitor. Here is the plot of the poem from the entry on Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Grand_Inquisitor:
The tale is told by Ivan with brief interruptive questions by Alyosha. In the tale, Christ comes back to Earth in Seville at the time of the Inquisition. He performs a number of miracles (echoing miracles from the Gospels). The people recognize him and adore him, but he is arrested by Inquisition leaders and sentenced to be burnt to death the next day. The Grand Inquisitor visits him in his cell to tell him that the Church no longer needs him. The main portion of the text is devoted to the Inquisitor explaining to Jesus why his return would interfere with the mission of the Church.
I invite you to write a poem in the ‘just so you know style and see what it can reveal about human nature. Blessings,