Liberty Hyde Bailey – Poet and Prophet for Our Times

March 14, 2014 — Leave a comment

 

Page 4: Liberty Hyde Bailey – Poet and Prophet for Our Times

Here we are reminded of the scriptural theme that though the resurrection of Jesus, death will be swallowed up in life.  This theme echoes throughout the poems of Wind and Weather and indeed is another reason why we, the Church, should immerse ourselves in Bailey’s poetry.

The title of this collection, Wind and Weather, is more than simply a summary of its thematic contents.  For Bailey, wind and weather are the essences of all nature, the “background” in which we must live (for an illustration of Bailey’s notion of “background” see the poem “The Vagrant Rivers”).  Wind and weather, for Bailey, are the essences of our environment because they represent changes therein.  The variety of these changes is to be celebrated with child-like glee: romping on a rainy day (“Rainy Day”), crunching through icy snow (“Winter”), reveling in the “kinship of the mud” (“Mother Mud”).  In his essay “Ways of approach to nature,” Bailey stoutly proclaims: “Give us the rain and the hail and the snow, the mist, the crashing thunder, and the cold biting wind!  Let us be men enough to face it, and poets enough to enjoy it” (47 OTN).  Part of our humility and connectedness to all creation is our attitude toward weather.  Bailey says, “No man is content and happy who is out of sympathy with the environment in which he is born to live” (OTN 42). And if we can be at peace with the weather, it is “but a step” (OTN 47) to being so with all the creatures therein.  To cast Bailey’s sentiment here in theological terms, if we can be at peace with God who orchestrates the weather (“raining on the just and the unjust” we are told), then indeed we are well-prepared to live peaceably with all the creatures of God’s creation.

Indeed, as followers in the way of Christ, we have been made ambassadors of Christ’s coming reign of peace, which will cover all creation.  Bailey’s poetry, as collected here in Wind and Weather, is prophetic in that it points us in this direction and energizes us for the work to which we have been called. In his essay on nature poetry, Bailey proclaims “I believe … in the power of poetry – in its power to put a man at his work with a song on his lips and to set the mind toward nature and naturalness” (35 OTN).  May we open our hearts to the power of Bailey’s poetry, and more importantly, may we tune our hearts to the song of God, who created and is now reconciling all creation!

 

Sources: 

WNW – Wind and Weather. Indianapolis: Doulos Christou Books, 2008. Reprint edition.

THE – The Holy Earth.  Indianapolis: Doulos Christou Books, 2008. Reprint edition.

OTN – Outlook to Nature. New York: Macmillan, 1905.

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