I have loved poetry for as long as I can remember. In Years 3 and 4, it was classics like Please Mrs. Butler (which I can still recite parts of) and The Highway Man that had my attention and love. In Year 6, I discovered Tyger by William Blake and fell in love with the romantic poets, though it took me a decade to understand what romanticism truly meant (FYI: way more philosophical than you’d think). During my GCSEs, I fell in love with the words of Simon Armitage; reading Kid still brings me out in goosebumps and tingles from how the words feel on my tongue. There is something about poetry that captures the human experience in a way that nothing else does. The way it ripples when you read it out loud or recite it by heart. Even the best songs cannot have the same impact as poetry can.
Poetry is also important to me because it has been an emotional lifesaver for me. So many times, when I have been trying to process what’s happening in my life, I have turned to writing poetry. Getting rid of the rules and ignoring grammar, punctuation, and even spelling sometimes meant I could express myself with greater ease. Even the layout played a part as I used the positions of words and lines to add extra dimensions to the poem I was working on. Though I don’t write poems as much as I used to, I still have my notebook and rereading them helps me to process emotions and spot patterns in my life.
Poetry in the Bible
One of my favourite things about the Bible is the number of different genres in it. From allegorical to historical, wisdom literature to letters between friends, there is something for everyone to simply enjoy reading without getting in to the studying part. Personally, and unsurprisingly consider the title of this post, the Psalms is one of my favourite books. It wasn’t always that way but as I came to appreciate poetry more and more, I saw the beauty in this collection of 150 poems.
That’s right… 150 POEMS!!!! (a.k.a Psalms)
It has been said that there is a psalm to speak into every emotion. Personally, I’m not sure I agree with that. During my teen years, I scoured the Psalms looking for something that spoke into the pain and misery of unrequited crushes… no luck 🤷🏻♀️ However, what I have discovered is that no matter how you are feeling, there is a psalm that will direct your mind, heart, and soul back to God. It sometimes takes a little bit of searching, perseverance, and maybe help from Google but the Psalms will always bring us back to God.
It isn’t always a pleasant redirection. That’s the nature of poetry and the Psalms are no exception. It allows us to grapple with the dark corners of the human soul; the difference with the Psalms is that, no matter who the psalmist is, they always bring the focus back to God. We, as the readers and hearers (because poetry is often meant to be heard, not read), are pulled in to this refocusing, our eyes pulled back to heaven.
Psalm 16 – You Will Not Abandon My Soul
I’ve been turning to the Psalms again in the last couple of months. I’ve been turning to one in particular, thanks to this article from Kirsten at GirlDefined. Though Kirsten is using Psalm 16 to help girls who find themselves distracted by crushes, over the past couple of months I have found it helpful every time my focus has strayed. From crushes (I might be in my 20s but I’m still human!) through to having a busy period at work, there has been a lot that could have taken my attention away from God. Reading Psalm 16 has helped to keep my attention where it belongs, on God.
I’ve also been memorising Psalm 16 in its entirety. So far I’m at four verses and even those I regularly mess up. However, it means that when my brain has found itself wandering down temptation’s paths I have been able to remind myself of the truths in this psalm. To remind myself that it is God in whom I take refuge; that all my good is in Him; and that running after anything but God will only make my sorrows multiply.
Psalm 16 is such a good example of why I love Psalms, or biblical poetry as it could be called. Though not all poems contain Biblical truth, the Psalms do and they combine it with everything good about poetry. From being able to play fast and loose with imagery, grammar, and punctuation through to sticking in our heads more easily, the Psalms have a unique place within the Bible.
What’s Your Favourite Psalm?
It’s over to you now. Do you have a favourite psalm that has stayed with you or that you memorised? Tell us down in the comments below.
Also, are you a fan of poetry or did school put you off? Let me know what your favourite poems are.