To understand what poetry’s role in creation is, we must first understand what the creation itself is. In Christian understanding, God’s creation is not a chaotic realm without form or purpose; it is not a randomly evolving order; instead, it is a world with direction, shape, and order—a world that is suffused with God’s truth, goodness, and glory. He has designed it to function in an interdependent fashion, and human beings are part of that interdependence. The Christian view of reality admits the metaphysical and spiritual and, thus, suggests that "nature" is more than just the physical and biological realms; it is also the ethical and metaphysical. When Paul in his epistle to the Romans wrote that the Gentiles "by nature" practiced the business or work of the law (2:14-15), he was invoking both Jewish and Greco-Roman notions of the world. He had in mind the Jewish idea that God has designed and constructed the world via his own wisdom and that such wisdom is present in the creation for humans to learn from and abide by. The Greek word for nature, physei, used by Paul also touches on Stoic notions that humanity and the world are uniquely fitted for each other.

The apostle John had much the same sense in mind. In the first chapter of the Gospel of John, the term often translated as "Word" is the Greek word logos. When John (under the Holy Spirit's inspiration) applied this concept to Christ, he was making a radical claim. Logos in Greek philosophy is an impersonal rational order that directs and controls the universe. Thus, John can claim that through the Word "all things were made." But he can also state that "The Word became flesh" (John 1:1, 14). That impersonal force, he tells us, is actually a personal Being who entered history. Jesus came to show us what God is like. John, like Paul, is also invoking the ancient Hebrew notion of wisdom. To be "full of grace and truth" is to express all that Jewish tradition claimed for sophia (cf. Proverbs 8:22-36).

The concept of a logos suggests that reality is inherently linguistic in structure, that we need words to relate to, understand, and exist with the world. It equally implies that an order and harmony exists in creation that is uncoverable, and for this too, we need words. Wisdom is found in abiding by this structure and harmony. Furthermore, it is Christ the Logos as Jesus the man who shows us the pattern by which we relate to the cosmos and more importantly to the cosmos' Creator. Poetry only has meaning in the end because God has ordered the creation. Literature can only offer us wisdom because God has designed it as part of the order of the universe. Poetry’s particular gifts include the shaping of language, the heightening and compression of symbols, a sense of the particulars of the world—all things that depend on a world that is both understandable and worth paying attention to.

Consider Denise Levertov’s poem about the first Christian poet of Anglo-Saxon, Caedmon. She retells the legend recorded in Bede’s Ecclestical History of the English People that Caedmon, having never spoken verse, first received his poetic gift by being commanded by God to speak. Afterwards, poetry flourished from him the rest of his life. Levertov has Caedmon do the talking:

All others talked as if
talk were a dance.
Clodhopper I, with clumsy feet
would break the gliding ring.
Early I learned to
hunch myself
close by the door;
[. . . .]

the sudden angle affrighted me—light effacing
my feeble beam,
a forest of torches, feathers of flame, sparks upflying:
but the cows as before
were calm, and nothing was burning,
           nothing but I, as that hand of fire
touched my lips and scorched my tongue
and pulled my voice
                                  into the ring of the dance. (1-7, 24-33)

In this poem, Levertov brings together the symbols of poetic feet with those of the awkward feet of the boy, as well as the ring of Anglo-Saxon scop-singing with that of the dance of being inspired by God. She pays attention to cows and to angels, to a sacred mystery and to everyday life. Caedmon’s experience tells us something about living, about what the world is like, and what God can do with the ordinary. Caedmon is deeply embedded in physei.

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"All manner of thing shall be well/ When the tongues of flame are in-folded/ Into the crowned knot of fire/ And the fire and the rose are one." -- T.S. Eliot, Little Gidding