Since the world began, mankind has written poetry largely for four or maybe five reasons: to speak to or for God, to celebrate or deplore battle, to express romantic affection and desire, to pass on wisdom and advice, or to entertain with a story. Scripture gives us examples of each of these. And with very few exceptions, the writers were men, not women. In fact, for most of Earth’s history, poetry was written by men. For men led their communities in the worship of God. Men recorded the military exploits of their champions. Men wrote words to woo and win the women they loved. Additionally, men handed down words of wisdom for their grandchildren’s grandchildren.
Suggestions For Embracing The Manly Art Of Poetry
In spite of all of this, it is often difficult to convince young men that they ought to enjoy reading and writing poetry. Particularly, here are some things that might help:
· Let young men read and write about manly things. Let them skip over flowers and kittens to swords and blood and honor.
· Have them compose poetry from a man’s perspective. A young man’s hymn to God, for example, will probably sound a lot more like a war anthem than a love ballad. Also, a young man will more likely use words like “sweat” than “sweet.”
· Let them write about what they know and enjoy—motocross, kickboxing, hunting, space battles… whatever.
· Let them write about what they actually feel—love, rejection, triumph, loneliness, frustration. Don’t shut them down because their feelings lack spiritual maturity.
· Let them push boundaries and challenge conventions, both in form and content. Don’t let Victorian “niceness” replace God’s word as their final standard for the pure, the just, and the true.
· Let them stride around the universe in search of subject matter: a New York slum, an Iraqi prison cell, the dark side of the moon, the Third Circle of Hell, or the End of Time. Don’t get nervous if flower gardens and sunsets lie outside their comfort zone.
· Let them work in farce and satire if they have a bent in that direction. But teach them to do it well and to choose proper targets. Remember Elijah and the prophets of Baal. Some things ought to be mocked.
· Let them begin with Hebrew parallelism or free verse. Save stricter rhythm for later. Skip rhyme unless it really appeals to them. Give them some of the more militaristic psalms to serve as models.
· In fact, let them read lots of psalms and the Song of Moses. Let them read the prophecies of Isaiah and the Book of Revelation. This will give them lots to think about and lots to imitate.
You may also consider reading another Live The Adventure Letter article: Advice To A Young Pastor Who Had Questions About Boys And Summer
What are your thoughts on the manly art of poetry and how to help it flourish once again? Let us know in the comments below.