Storied Windows


Wednesday, October 5, 2011 – The angel reply came back promptly, proposing a playful challenge.

The word dim sparked my curiosity, although I have no idea exactly why it was that word. I consulted Webster’s Dictionary, which listed the synonyms for dim as obscure, dark and mysterious, among others. Inserted among the longer definitions of dim, not luminous or bright, was a quote by John Milton ((1608-1674).

Milton was an English poet who lived during a time of religious strife. Bartlett’s book of Familiar Quotations devotes almost thirteen pages to quotes by Milton. I guessed that “storied windows” referred to the stained glass windows of churches, and in finding the section of verse in Bartlett’s, my guess was confirmed.

I had to flip through the pages of the dictionary to find the meaning of dightto arrange or put in order. I asked myself, “What is the pentameter of this piece of verse?”

Pentameter is a literary device that can be defined as a line in verse or poetry that has five strong metrical feet or beats per line. A metrical foot is a grouping of one stressed syllable with one to two unstressed syllables that repeats in a regular pattern.

Playing with pencil and paper, I altered the Milton quote into pentameter form with five double-syllable beats in each line:

Then I typed it into an email response:

While dispatching my response, the spiritual detective within me suddenly understood the intention of the words “when the ship sails in.” Without waiting to receive a follow-up reply, I left the house and drove a mile into downtown East Greenwich to St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, on the hill. St. Luke’s has a magnificent organ and a sanctuary surrounded by a marvelous collection of stained-glass windows. From the top of the church steeple, one can watch boats sail in and out of East Greenwich harbor, and there, at the back of the sanctuary is a stained glass window depicting the ship Providence (shown at the top of this page)… Read more

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