I suspect that one of the darkest poems in the English language is William Cowper’s “Lines Written During a Period of Insanity”, or, as it is sometimes more tactfully called, “Sapphics”. Written after his first suicide attempt, the poem deals with the idea of eternal condemnation which was one of his greatest fears. In the form of four “Sapphic” stanzas, it uses a complex rhythm, demonstrating what a master Cowper was of poetic form, even when in the darkest possible place. It is a hard poem to read, an even harder poem to imitate. But here is my attempt at the task, and my attempt to shed some light into a very dark poem.Buried Above Ground (After “Lines Written During a Period of Insanity”) Abiram, swallowed up by earth, was taken Into the fiery core, our spinning planet Not pausing to release him from its vortex; I too am drawn in. The Potter’s Field received Judas’ silver, His body taken into soil, the true cost Of what he bought Caiaphas with a swift kiss From betraying lips. I would have taken less than thirty pieces; I have betrayed my Saviour for a trinket. So I, like Judas and like dead Abiram, Deserve gravity. There is no soil to bury my betrayal Or hide the bones that I have stripped of all flesh. Only the night can for a time disguise them, Soon to be found out. Bright light – only when You enter my insides Can darkness’ strong pull on me be halted. Only if You come swiftly with Your promise Will the vortex stop.
5 thoughts on “Buried Above Ground (After William Cowper’s “Sapphics”)”
Great answer to a tough challenge–I LOVE the last stanza so much. God bless you BIG–sis Caddo-Jael
Thankyou! God bless you too 🙂
Wow. Powerful stuff. Good work.
Thanks so much!
Hey, Matthew –
I’m currently working on a spiritual memoir entitled “Delight in Disorder: Meditations from a Bipolar Mind”. Currently, I’m working on “The Study” chapter where I reflect on books that have impacted my understanding of mental illness as well as list other works of art (books,movies,visual arts, music) worth exploring.
I’d love for you to visit my site and share what you’ve found helpful. The post is here –
Hope to see you around.