A Sonnet to God
by Mia Morgan
I’m starting to understand why Shakespeare
wrote a hundred and fifty-four sonnets.
Poetry is alive and well;
it’s crashing through my bone structure
and rattling a ribcaged heart.
Shakespeare said that “the truest poetry
is the most feigning,” and I can believe it,
so consider this poem the most exaggerated of truths,
the falsest of confessions and the truest of lies.
And look, I know they say that lying is a sin,
so forgive me, dear God,
but they also say you only truly love once,
and I think I fall in love every time
I read a play or poem, and sometimes more.
In between all the too-long bus rides
and student fees, part-time hours
and lukewarm tea… during the poetry,
books, music and art,
I’m in love again.
Is that you, God,
in the songs and paintings and plays?
Lately, I’m having trouble believing it.
Shakespeare once said,
“If music be the food of love,
play on; give me excess of it.”
And, dear God,
I thought I saw you in the face
of a little boy learning to play the violin,
and as he pulled music from a bow,
I saw him grin.
And I thought I heard you
in the sound of the orchestra,
playing a little too much above
the written mezzo-piano,
because we couldn’t contain the feeling.
And Shakespeare did say that
“the man that hath no music in himself,
nor is mov’d with concord of sweet sounds,
is fit for treasons, stratagems, and spoils,”
so I guess I’m not the only one
that saw artful truth in there.
And, dear God,
I thought I saw you on the walls
of every art gallery I’ve ever been to
but, God, was that really you?
Because I also saw more despair
than I could possibly bear
to put into words, and
“Lord, what fools these mortals be!”
he said, but also
“What a piece of work is a man!
How noble in reason! How infinite in faculties!
in form and moving how express and admirable!
In action how like an angel!
in apprehension how like a god!”
So, dear God,
are you in me?
If so, where have I misplaced
the noble reason and infinite faculties
that Hamlet seems to think we’ve got?
Dear God, I’m sorry if you gave them to me
and then I lost them, because I know
I seem to be doing a lot of losing lately.
Shakespeare though, sees to it
that I haven’t, above all, lost truth.
“The poet’s pen…gives to airy nothing
a local habitation and a name,” he says,
understanding the faith and creation that is
independent of faith, dependent on creation
but he was, as such, dependent on faith for creation.
Lord, are you that same, of whom this bard says
“God be praised, that to believing souls
gives light in darkness, comfort in despair,”?
Now, maybe I don’t qualify as
one of those ‘believing souls’.
Maybe, like Hamlet the Dane,
I’ve got the type of soul that likes to
“consider too curiously,”
and always seemingly sinking
in these mysteries of life and death.
So maybe only the ‘believing souls’
are rewarded with the ‘light in darkness,
comfort in despair’ bit of things.
Dear God, is that where you were
when I was carving my skin paper thin?
When “to be or not to be?”
held so much more for me than any
“our Father who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name,”
did I just not believe enough?
And was it really “nobler in the mind
to suffer the slings and arrows,”
time after time?
Call me disillusioned–
call it what you will and call it as you see it–
but I’ve come to a conclusion;
I don’t know if I believe in God,
but I do believe in Shakespeare.
“Be all my sins remember’d.”