As the Hart Panteth After the Water Brooks, So Panteth My Soul

[The words of this sonnet are printed below.]

This sonnet is dedicated to: my dear boyhood friend, Bob McPhee; my cousin and companion in countless hours in the fields and woods of his farm, Duncan Kinder; and my friend and colleague the Rev. Dr. Michael Caldwell. They each have been with me on the journeys the poem describes.

Many people have found great comfort out in gardens, parks, fields or woods during this pandemic.  Wild or semi-wild nature has always been a source of solace and spiritual connection for me, a place of playfulness and creative inspiration as well as work.  Now I long for it and need my daily immersions in it more than ever.

The title of the poem is taken from the first line of Psalm 42 in the beautiful King James Version.  I have laid the poem out as free verse, but it is a conventional, law-abiding sonnet if you track the feet and rhymes.  I hear it and feel it as free verse, with the rhythms below the surface like cricket sound or a stream flowing on the edge of consciousness.

As the Hart Panteth After the Water Brooks,
So Panteth My Soul
Psalm 42

A boy escapes
a hot Ohio field,
the gate, high arched white oaks;
cool ferns, the floor.
He feels shade change him,
heat and glare-hurts healed,
as if he had passed
through a magic door.
He hears the soothing sound
of falling stream.
It draws him in,
it draws forth his own songs.
Wonder and play unfold,
a waking dream,
yet true, and safe,
a place where he belongs.

A man escapes to woods
from fields of stress
and though he makes no dam
of stream-dug stone
nor warpaints face with bloodroot,
still no less
does he feel healed, safe, true,
this place his own.
Deer pant for cooling streams,
so sings the Psalm.
His heart is always
longing for this calm.

copyright 2020 Thomas Cary Kinder

4 thoughts on “As the Hart Panteth After the Water Brooks, So Panteth My Soul

  1. Gumdrops, grilled cheese, Risk, music , hikes, friends, Chevy station wagon, and many other special memories. Your house was my safe place that was always filled with love and understanding. “ Hey Mrs. Kinder, if that’s my mom, tell her I already left “


    1. Wonderful to hear your voice, Bob, and through you our Mother and that enormous welcoming home filled with its own endless comforts and Risk


  2. Thanks for the dedication, Tom… honored to be included as a fellow lover of the woods, collaborator in re-creation, promoter of all things natural. Loved, in your sonnet, the juxtaposition of the boy and the man. Don’t we, indeed, need to keep that boyish longing for re-creation, creation AND Creator – a good longing, keeping us breathing, keeping us sane in a crazy world. It’s a keeper! Oh, and I liked your relaxed manner as you read! Blessings, brother- Michael


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