The Fledgling (After George MacDonald’s “Diary of an Old Soul”)

One of the most powerful and touching works that George MacDonald wrote, although also one of his least known, is his sequence of poems entitled, a little awkwardly, “A Book of Strife in the Form of the Diary of an Old Soul”. The book includes a poem for each day of the year, each one seven lines, varying delicately in rhyming scheme, sometimes varying in quality, but always confronting the challenges of life-long faith and the realities of doubt and despair, while always finding hope and comfort. It is well worth the read. Here is my first George MacDonald-inspired poem, a group of four seven-line stanzas inspired by MacDonald’s January poems.

The Fledgling (After George MacDonald’s “Diary of an Old Soul”)
            I.
Doubt keeps me static, safe inside my nest.
The swaying branches threaten from without,
Yet wings are still too downy; it is best
To stay inside and settle in my doubt.
But faith has winds too, blowing as I wait;
A voice too beckons me to venture out,
For waiting I am weighty, without flight.
 
                                    II.
The wind has echoes in these silences;
I look for arms to guide me as I fly,
Yet nothing holds me but this thorniness,
While other flocks fly, apathetic, by.
If I should spread my wings, would this thin breeze
Have strength enough to hold me, floating high?
I fear the heights of mountains, depths of seas.
 
                                    III.
The air is still; the yearning spirit sighs.
My doubting feathers wait for time to come.
But in the silence, there is one who says,
“Don’t wait. In flight, learn who you have become.”
Because you are my life, my feathers rise;
Because your love is good, I soar to sun;
I can, I must fly hopeful in your skies.
 
                                    IV.
Look on me now and see, men on the land,
Look on my wings, my flight; look on and learn:
See how I fly, how I am fed by hands
Which made and formed my feathers and each turn,
Each gust of wind which holds me in his plans.
Take doubt, you winds, and turn it into flight;
Take flight, faint heart, and soar by faith, not sight.

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