Art is so often better at theology than theology is.
Every Riven Thing
God goes, belonging to every riven thing he’s made
sing his being simply by being
the thing it is:
stone and tree and sky,
man who sees and sings and wonders why
God goes. Belonging, to every riven thing he’s made,
means a storm of peace.
Think of the atoms inside the stone.
Think of the man who sits alone
trying to will himself into a stillness where
God goes belonging. To every riven thing he’s made
there is given one shade
shaped exactly to the thing itself:
under the tree a darker tree;
under the man the only man to see
God goes belonging to every riven thing. He’s made
the things that bring him near,
made the mind that makes him go.
A part of what man knows,
apart from what man knows,
God goes belonging to every riven thing he’s made.
Christian Wiman is the author, editor, or translator of ten books, including Hammer is the Prayer: Selected Poems, My Bright Abyss: Meditation of a Modern Believer, and Stolen Air: Selected Poems of Osip Mandelstam.
Of his work as a whole, Marilynne Robinson writes, “His poetry and scholarship have a purifying urgency that is rare in this world. This puts him at the very source of theology, and enables him to say new things in timeless language, so that the reader’s surprise and assent are one and the same.”
Mr. Wiman has been a Jones Lecturer in Poetry at Stanford and a visiting assistant professor of English at Northwestern, and for three years he served as Visiting Scholar at Lynchburg College in Virginia. From 2003 until 2013 he was the editor of Poetry magazine, the premiere magazine for poetry in the English-speaking world. During that time the magazine’s circulation tripled, and it garnered two National Magazine Awards from the American Society of Magazine Editors. For the magazine’s centennial year, Mr. Wiman edited, with Don Share, The Open Door: One Hundred Poems, One Hundred Years of Poetry Magazine.
Mr. Wiman has written for the New Yorker, the New York Times Book Review, the Atlantic Monthly, and numerous other publications. He is a former Guggenheim Fellow and holds an honorary doctorate of humane letters from North Central College. His particular interests include modern poetry, the language of faith, “accidental” theology (that is, theology conducted by unexpected means), and what it means to be a Christian intellectual in a secular culture.
Mr. Wiman is the subject of many articles, some of which are:
- One Hundred Poems That Capture the Meaning of Joy: Christian Wiman’s new anthology brings together an admirable range of meditations on an emotion whose place in the world today can seem uncertain. (The Atlantic)
- Faith Healing: A poet confronts illness and God. (The New Yorker)
- Contemporary poet embraces Christianity (Cranach)
- An Interview With Christian Wiman (Bookslut)
- Christian Wiman Discusses Faith as He Leaves World’s Top Poetry Magazine (Christianity Today)
- How Does One Remember God? (On Being)