A quick hi, and a poem

Today is my final day of spring break, with summer term starting bright and early at 9 a.m. tomorrow. I was hoping to post more to this blog over break, but I found myself actually relaxing away from the computer for most of the two weeks, or starting my already-overwhelming summer term homework.

Fortunately, though, one of my summer courses, Spirituality and the Arts, will provide me with some beautiful prose and poetry to share on this blog for the weeks to come. (Hopefully, too, you’ll start hearing from my wonderful guest bloggers these next two months as well!) Here is a poem I read this morning that I think is absolutely brilliant. It’s by Scott Cairns and is from Image Journal (Summer 2001):

Adventures in New Testament Greek: Metanoia

Repentance, to be sure,
but of a species far
less likely to oblige
sheepish repetition.

Repentance, you’ll observe,
glibly bears the bent
of thought revisited,
and mind’s familiar stamp

–a quaint, half-hearted
doubleness that couples
all compunction with a pledge
of recurrent screw-up.

The heart’s metanoia,
on the other hand, turns
without regret, turns not
so much away, as toward,

as if the slow pilgrim
has been surprised to find
that sin is not so bad
as it is a waste of time.


Some quick thoughts: I love the repetition of sounds in the first two stanzas, emulating the idea of repentance as something done repetitively, not once and for all. And then the final stanza’s slant rhyme is beautiful, playful. Instead of portraying metanoia as grim or guilt-ridden, it’s portrayed as being freeing, natural, awakening. (Amen!)


About Lauren Sawyer

I am a Ph.D. student studying social ethics in New Jersey. I love coffee, rainy days, and John Updike. Learn more about me at laurendeidra.com.

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