Poems to get us through: a musical exchange with God | Books

The poet Lachlan Mackinnon lives in Ely, and is also a distinguished critic and former teacher. Music, of all kinds, has always been important to his poetry, alongside a healing journeying towards faith. A psalmist (notably David in the Old Testament) is a composer of sacred lyrics, and sometimes poems can share this territory. The writer’s epiphany in this poem answers our own need for such moments of consolation.

The Psalmist by Lachlan Mackinnon

When I look up
my soul is water, it
trembles beneath your breath
as the skin of a mountain pool
shakes below whistled cloud.

Where there is music
let each voice praise you,
clashing cymbals
unleash their roaring
whisper, the strings sing

at one with braided voices
of boys and girls, and let the harpist
bow her sweet
neck to the sweet burden
of an air plucked from air,

the trumpeter bray
what you have promised,
that you will move among us
to bind each wound,
that all things shall be made good.

From Doves, published by Faber, 2017.