Newton’s Reverie


The preaching, the writing, the music

Seasons of prayer

Were they enough dear Lord?

To make amends?

So often I am back there

On the ships, lunging forward

Smelling the cargo below-decks

The briny existence

The sweat of terrified captives

Wrenched from the jungles.

I see them occasionally rebellious

And flogged.

Sick and pining

And pitched overboard.

Voracious waves ever ready.

I hear the raucous songs

And gutter humour

Of the hardened mates.

I hear the whistle

The creaking of the riggings

The wash of surf

At some destined shore.

I hear again the racing of my own heart.

That storm of storms

The utter dejectedness

Grabbing and yanking from me

One momentous cry for help

For something clean and hopeful.

And You were there

In the pitching bunk

Rich in mercy and having salvation.

How strange a path

From there to studies

To pulpits (me of all people)

To words and melodies leaping

Out of the heart set free.

To Cowper and Olney.

To Wilberforce and his grand campaign.

And wonder of wonders

This rescued man

Wretch that I am

With no less days

To sing God’s praise

Than when I first began.

2 thoughts on “Newton’s Reverie

  1. I watched the movie last night totally astounded at the youth, vision, courage and perseverance of Wilberforce and Pitt. I would have watched it again simply for the two scenes with Albert Finney as the old Newton. “Haunted” he said “by twenty thousand sobbing ghosts, from whom he would never be clear.”

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