Poetic Purpose

Poetic Purpose


Welcome to SundaySonnet.com!

My name is Matthew Fox and my mission with SundaySonnet.com is to write and present poetry that leads the Christian to a greater appreciation for the beauty of Scripture and of the eternal God of creation as well as a deeper love for Him. While I personally love to read books on theology, which lay out the Truth of scripture in a systematic fashion, and I believe that everyone should take the time to study such books (and of course the Bible, which is God’s Holy Word!), I hope here to highlight the Beauty of Scripture and what it teaches for our understanding of God and our faith, because what we believe is not only true but beautiful (and beautiful because it is true and vice versa) and should stir in our hearts a deep passion, which for Christ there may be found the deepest and most passionate of all passions. As Psalm 45:1 says, “My heart overflows with a pleasing theme; I address my verses to the king; my tongue is like the pen of a ready scribe.” (ESV)

Primarily, I will be posting what I call “Sunday Sonnets” — I intend to write and post one of these each Sunday — but I will also share other poems of the theological nature when I write them (or feel inclined to share an older one).

What is a “Sunday Sonnet”?

In short, a “Sunday Sonnet” is a sonnet directly based on a Bible passage. I take a section of Scripture, as short as a single verse (see “Days of the Lord”) or as long as part of a story (see “King Balak’s Request”) or the Ten Commandments, and, after studying the Scripture both the meaning and the language used, I re-express the passage in a Shakespearean sonnet, which I understand to be 14 lines of Iambic Pentameter with alternating rhyme for 12 lines concluded by a rhyming couplet. The general intent is to capture the meaning of the passage and highlight the Beauty of God’s Holy Word and the Truth communicated therein.

Of course, there is rarely enough space in only fourteen lines of poetry to encapsulate the full weight and meaning of the passage — as you should know, the power of God’s Word is such that a single verse of it can be utterly earth-shattering and mind-blowing by itself, requiring months and years and a life-time to understand its full import, yet also and ultimately cannot stand alone, being found within the context of a much larger passage — a chapter, a book, an entire testament, and the whole of Scripture — and that context as a whole is mysterious yet miraculously elucidated by the Holy Spirit and alive with power. A single verse of the Bible is like the explosion caused by nuclear fusion of but two atoms in the heart of the sun, in which countless powerful nuclear reactions are occurring simultaneously to create heat and light, both of which are necessary for us as human on this Earth. Consider what is famously the shortest verse in the Bible, John 11:35 — “Jesus wept.” The implications of these two words alone are astronomical, yet it is within their context of Lazarus’ resurrection that the full impact of their meaning is felt. The strength of a single powerful wave is found in the greatness of the ocean itself. Nevertheless, my hope with each Sunday Sonnet is to show the strength of each wave because of the depths of ocean and I have no doubt that years from now I will return to certain passages again and highlight different elements, emphasizing another profound truth and staggering beauty of the passage that I had not before.

I try as much as I can to reflect the language that is used in the original passage — especially in the poetry, which features beautiful imagery. When I am handling a passage that people know well, especially for the way it is phrased, I always have to consider: do I use the phrasing with which people are familiar or do I say it in an unfamiliar way, so that people reconsider what they know by heart? Sometimes I will insert references to other passages elsewhere Scripture so as to underscore the message or display the interconnected reality of God’s Specific Revelation (e.g. I will from time to time make direct references to Jesus in an Old Testament passage to show its fulfillment in the New). All in all, my earnest hope in writing these is to highlight the Truth, Beauty, and Goodness of Scripture in the English language with recognizable poetic conventions, so that people would be led more earnestly to read God’s Word with a deeper appreciation of what God has given us there.

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