Modernist Literature and the Cross

I’m currently taking American Literature: Realism through Modernism, and in it we have recently been discussing modernist poetry. Fragmentation within poems has been a common and thought-provoking topic as we discuss how breaking apart objects can reveal reality better, ignoring the romanticized symbolism that people have attached to objects for centuries, but last week I became frustrated with this style of poetry. The poems seemed abstract; breaking down objects into their parts to describe them in a fuller way seemed confusing and purposeless that day.

We began discussing how Christianity can be manifested in fragmentation, and a couple of my classmates had insightful comments about fragmentation revealing the reality of Christian life. They said it shows that things are not always perfect. They said the words and format of the modernist poems reflect how we do not always understand what is happening. In other words, fragmentation shows the broken reality of life.

This is valid, but it is not always enough. Where is the hope? In class that day, I voiced that I just wanted to proclaim the gospel in a poem, the full gospel. I couldn’t stand the purposeless poems any longer. Maybe part of why I wanted to look at the bigger picture was because I’m a sociology major. Overall, I believe the urge came because I wanted to make my faith in Jesus known to everyone.

I see the value of fragmentation, and I would actually like to try writing some similar poems myself to break out of the mold in which we commonly think. Yet I do not want to become so focused on individual objects that I ignore the bigger picture of hope and redemption that Jesus has made for us, thanks be to God.

Because of these thoughts and beliefs, I scribbled the following poem in my notes as class ended. While it does not explain in detail the good news of Jesus Christ giving up His Heavenly home to become human, feel pain, be compassionate, and ultimately die an unspeakably agonizing death to take the punishment we all deserve for ignoring, disobeying, and rebelling against God–while the poem does not  go into details of Jesus’s doing this out of God’s great love and His coming back to life and conquering death once and for all out of God’s sacred power, it gives a better glimpse than many other short poems I’ve read lately. It has more purpose than a poem describing the common but unnoticed beauty of a vase, and it’s the starting place of hope.

Here’s to my God, the Saviour of all on this earth who believe in Him, who is living in His people through His Spirit until His return!

 

A Cross:

Splintered wood,

Agony.

I wince.

Hands, gaping

Chest, heaving–

A cross

That is everything;

that is all.

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