Leafs from the Diary of an Old Soul

C.S. Lewis, perhaps the greatest Christian apologist of the 20th century and author of the popular children’s book series, “The Chronicles of Narnia,” considered George MacDonald his mentor and spiritual guide. MacDonald himself was an Anglican minister for a time, but was forced to give up the ministry because of his radical beliefs. He is best known for his fairy tales, but also wrote many sermons, books and some poetry.

“The Diary of an Old Soul,” MacDonald’s largest poetic work, consists of 365 four-line stanzas, one for each day of the year. These poems deal mainly with MacDonald’s strife in reconciling himself to God. Out of these pleadings I have selected a number of stanzas that speak to me. They are primarily about life, death, rebirth, beauty and the power of creation. “Leafs from the Diary of an Old Soul” was composed mainly in 2003.

Recordings:

I performed 2 Selections from Leafs from the Diary of an Old Soul before the work was completed at a new composition showcase on BYU Campus in 2003.

At this time there are no other recordings available. Be the first to record the entire set in concert. Send your live recording to be posted here. I’ll be glad to link back to your singer site. Contact info is listed in all editions of the piece.

The Texts:

Excerpted from The Diary of an Old Soul by George Macdonald. Note: Entries that spanned several days in the original collection have been dated with the day the poem began. A few entries were edited or truncated by myself for poetic and musical reasons.

  1. Thy Fishes Breathe – Entry of January 5th
    Thy fishes breathe but where thy waters roll;
    Thy birds fly but within thy airy, sea;
    My soul breathes only in thy infinite soul;
    I breathe, I think, I love, I live, but thee.
    Oh breathe, oh think, O Love live into me!
  2. Come to me Lord – Entry of January 30th
    Come to me, Lord: I will not speculate how,
    Nor think at which door I would have thee appear,
    Nor put off calling til my floors be swept,
    but cry, “Come, Lord, come any way, come now.”
    Thou wilt interpret life to me,
    and men, art, nature, my own soul’s mysteries;
    bringing truth out, clear joyous to my ken,
    Fair as the morn trampling the dull night.
    Then the lone hillside shall hear exultant cries;
    The joyous see me joy, the weeping weep;
    The watching smile,
    as Death breathes on me his cold sleep.
  3. Gloriously Wasteful – Entry of March 2nd
    Gloriously wasteful, O Lord, art thou!
    Sunset faints after sunset into the night,
    Spendorously dying from thy window sill forever.
    In the perfect time,
    When we are in our natal home,
    What if thou make us able to make like thee:
    To light with moons, to clothe with greenery,
    To hang gold sunsets over a rose and purple sea!
    Then one to his neighbor may call out,
    “Come! Brother come hither:
    I would show you a thing;”
    And lo, a vision of his imagining,
    then each soul to each the closer cling!
  4. Childness Fresh – Entry of October 20th
    I shall with childness fresh, look up to thee;
    Thou, seeing thy child with age encumbered sore,
    wilt round him bend thine arm more carefully.
    And when grim Death doth take me by the throat,
    Thou wilt have pity on thy handiwork;
    and draw my soul out,
    gladder than thy saved creatures from the narrow ark
    who rushing out leaped and laughed and cried for joy,
    And the great rainbow strode across the dark.
  5. To Part for Praise – Entry of December 12th
    Give me a world, to part for praise and sunder.
    The brooks be bells;
    The winds in caverns dumb, awake fife and flute, flageolet and voice;
    The fire shook earth itself be the great drum;
    Rivers, seas, icebergs fill the great score up and under;
    Let the air the regions bass out thunder!

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