Hear this, you people—listen, all the world:
Who trusts in wealth cannot his life redeem.
Though while he live, he bless his merry heart,
The time will come, alike for wise and fool,
To go where he can carry naught away;
There he shall lie, and death shall feed on him.
The man of honor makes a name for him,
that he may be remembered in this world;
for well he knows he’ll nothing take away,
yet emptiness inside he would redeem
with fame and fortune. Surely he’s no fool
who daily seeks to satisfy his heart.
The lowly man, whose wealth hides in his heart,
may think himself much better off than him
who lives to line his pockets, though a fool
he seem to be, as measured by the world.
It is not wealth, but time that he redeems,
although he knows time too will flee away.
His memory will also fade away
whose lack of conscience slowly steels his heart.
On earth he wicked lives, will not redeem
the slightest beggar who beseeches him.
So joyless he traverses this dark world
more foolish even than the dumbest fool.
And somewhere in between the wise and fool
there lives a common man, not far away
from where you are in your neck of the world.
Though burdened not with wealth or pride of heart,
there’s something queer and different in him:
an element of lostness to redeem.
There’s not a soul with power to redeem
his life from death. Who thinks he can, a fool
will prove to be before the eyes of Him
with whom we have to do. They go away
to their long home when wears the weary heart
and leave behind the pleasures of the world.
Yet there is hope for people of the world,
for God is just and faithful to redeem
the penitent who yields a humble heart
and turns from sin, no more to play the fool.
He takes those sins and tosses them away
behind His back, no more to torment him.
And while he lives, another lives in him,
a Spirit never spotted by the world
who purges sin and takes it clean away
that he might one day stand alive, redeemed.
All hell and earth may think the man a fool,
but he is wise who gives to God his heart.
And God will give to him a brand new heart,
a tender heart of flesh that beats for Him.
No worries when the world calls him a fool:
his ears no longer listen to the world;
for every part of him has been redeemed:
redemption’s flow has carried sin away.
The Son once walked on earth, then went away
when He had finished what was on His heart:
He died one time for all men to redeem.
He lives again, and we now live in Him—
we who have been unspotted by the world,
who sometimes bear the title of a fool.
It has been said that no one is a fool
who gives up that which he can’t hoard away.
He lives while dying slowly to the world.
He loses nothing who has lost his heart
in the hands of the Creator God who made him;
he gains what he cannot lose once he’s redeemed.
Imagine endless joy for the redeemed!
It is no hardship to be called a fool
when death no more has power over him.
His final breath expired, he’ll fly away
to a place where sin no more can tempt his heart,
to eternal day in a perfect, higher world.
He’ll go away to the land of the redeemed
with every heart—yes, both the wise and fool—
a brand new world, a place prepared for him.
Copyright © 2021 Abigail Gronway – All Rights Reserved
Based on Psalm 49
Hear this, all you people; give ear, all you inhabitants of the world: both low and high, rich and poor, together. My mouth shall speak of wisdom; and the meditation of my heart shall be of understanding. I will incline my ear to a parable: I will open my dark saying upon the harp. Why should I fear in the days of evil, when the iniquity at my heels shall encompass me?
They who trust in their wealth, and boast themselves in the multitude of their riches, none of them can by any means redeem his brother, nor give to God a ransom for him (for the redemption of their life is precious, and it will ever be insufficient.), that he should still live forever, and not see corruption. For he sees that wise men die, likewise the fool and the stupid person perish, and leave their wealth to others. Their inward thought is that their houses shall continue forever, and their dwelling places to all generations; they call their lands after their own names. Nevertheless man being in honor does not live long: he is like the beasts that perish. This their way is their folly: yet their posterity approve their sayings. Like sheep they are laid in the grave; death shall feed on them; and the upright shall have dominion over them in the morning; and their beauty shall consume in the grave from their dwelling.
But God will redeem my soul from the power of the grave: for he shall receive me. Be not afraid when one is made rich, when the glory of his house is increased; for when he dies he shall carry nothing away: his glory shall not descend after him. Though while he lived he blessed his soul: and men will praise you when you do well to yourself. He shall go to the generation of his fathers; they shall never see light. Man that is in honor, and understands not, is like the beasts that perish.
Welcome to my series, Incremental Poetry, where each week the featured poem will be one line longer than the one I share the week before. I have no idea how long I’ll keep this up, so we’ll just have to wait and see. Thank you for stopping by.
Sydney’s Double Sestina
Sir Phillip Sydney wrote a double sestina in which the pattern of stanzas 1-6 is duplicated in stanzas 7-12, and the final stanza is followed by a three-line envoy.
Written in iambic pentameter
Total length: 75 lines
Envoy: 5/2, 3/4, 1/6