More MacDonald

Yesterday I promised some poems from The White Page Poems which was “inspired” by MacDonald’s daily poems The Diary of an Old Soul. Zossima Press also sells the most complete CD version of MacDonald’s unabridged works: Ever Yours, George MacDonald $10 (pictured below – click on the picture to enlarge).


This CD contains 48 out of 49 unabridged books in both MS Word and PDF format.

Now, for some sample poems – – – the first will be the poem by George MacDonald for a particular day of the year, followed by Betty’s poem for the same day:

October 11.

‘Tis that I am not good – that is enough;
I pry no farther – that is not the way.
Here, O my potter, is thy making stuff!
Set thy wheel going; let it whir and play.
The chips in me, the stones, the straws, the sand,
Cast them out with fine separating hand,
And make a vessel of thy yielding clay.

10/ 11

Make of me a chalice, a loving cup,
When I fall, center me and draw me up;
When I am wobbly, do thou pull me in,
Far from the tempting glazes of my sin;
Help me to see you in my neighbor’s face.
Of common clay, I rise and (conscious) spin
Toward Potter’s Field, my final resting place.

October 16.

Now I grow old, and the soft-gathered years
Have calmed, yea dulled the heart’s swift fluttering beat;
But a quiet hope that keeps its household seat
Is better than recurrent glories fleet.
To know thee, Lord, is worth a many tears;
And when this mildew, age, has dried away,
My heart will beat again as young and strong and gay.


Now I grow old, never quite having bloomed;
Like this maple branch, broken off in wind –
Half attached, as cold air chills the sap. Still
I love those I gave my heart to; consumed,
As soon this branch will be, by flame. Who sinned
Will be invited to thy banquet; fill
Me with gratitude, here, over the hill.

November 13.

Son of the Father, elder brother mine,
See thy poor brother’s plight; See how he stands
Defiled and feeble, hanging down his hands!
Make me clean, brother, with thy burning shine;
From thy rich treasures, householder divine,
Bring forth fair garments, old and new, I pray,
And like thy brother dress me, in the old home-bred way.


Elder brother, son of Our Father-God,
Encourage me, that inside-out I bear
The hope that I too, possibly, will wear
Homespun fresh garments like your mother’s own,
When some day I will be more holy grown.
I, work-in-progess, wash my motley odd,
And dance my grateful praises in bright air.


  1. IMournForTonks says

    I like the excerpts. MacDonald would be worthwhile reading for the HogPro Community, especially his fantasy works. Phantastes, Lilith, The Princess and the Goblin, The Light Princess, At the Back of the North Wind…these are my favorites. Sir Gibbie, a novel with “approaching fantasy” elements, also is good.

    By the way, is Betty Aberlin THE Lady Aberlin from Mr. Rogers? I think she is!

  2. Arabella Figg says

    My goodness, I read more MacDonald than I’d thought–The Princess and the Goblin, The Princess and Curdie, The Light Princess, At the Back of the North Wind. I may have read Phantastes and Lilith, too, the names are familiar.

    As a poet, I enjoyed these poems. Betty is a wonderful comtemporary poet.

    Kitties don’t rhyme–
    all sublime in
    themselves, they spin
    plots, curtains climb…

  3. I guess I’m the only person in the world who never liked any of MacDonald’s works, particularly those mentioned above. I don’t honestly know why. (Actually, I do know why I hate “The Light Princess”; it’s brutal without being enlightening.)

  4. Robert Trexler says

    Hi Lewis. I don’t know how to resize the images. Any tips?

    Hi IMournForTonks. Yes, Betty is “Lady Aberlin” from Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood. And has had bit parts in movies such as “Dogma” and “Jersey Girl” – and performed with Steve Martin, Lily Tomlin, Meryl Streep and others. We decided not to advertise her acting career in the book because we want her poems to be appreciated on their merit and not for celebrity status.

    Hi Trish. I guess everybody can’t like everything – there are people who don’t like the Potter books. MacDonald has held a fascination for me for 35 years. Like Rowling, there is much more meaning than you find on the surface. As to the brutality of “The Light Princess,” you’re instincts are intact – one should feel horror at the callousness of the Princess and others who are onlookers of the sacrifice of the Prince. Just as we should be horrified at the callousness of those who blithly observe the sacrifice of Christ and are unmoved. Fortunately, the Princess is saved by the realization of what she has done. The realization of her lack of “gravity” brings her back to reality through her tears of remorse.

  5. IMournForTonks says


    I agree with your decision not to push Betty Aberlin’s acting career, because the poems do indeed stand on their own. They are very honest and moving. I look forward to reading the entire work. I would still buy it if the poems were written by Betty Schmedley of Hoboken.

    In fact, I did the same thing with my wife: I showed her the excerpts without mentioning who Betty was, because I knew that she would relate to them, no matter who was the poet. SO all you readers out here–forget the Mr. Rogers preconceptions! And, sorry for spillin’ the beans.

  6. Robert I agree with your take. The Light Princess is the gospel story through a fairy tale lens. Prince comes in disguise (a bootblack isn’t that far off from a washer of feet), dies a sacrificial, unappreciated death to rescue his desired bride, defeats the curse, makes the bride his own etc.

    MacDonald’s writing, being a full generation older than Lewis’ and Tolkien’s, isn’t as immediately accessible as the Narnia or LOTR works. But I’ve found it rewarding and worth the effort.

    Many people have read MacDonald without realizing it. The devotional book “My Utmost for His Highest” contains many verbatim quotes from MacDonald’s devotional works, such as his “unspoken sermons.” Oswald Chambers copied into his personal diaries many passages of MacDonald’s writings but since they were just his diaries, didn’t stop to footnote or otherwise distinguish between his own thoughts and the places where he was copying MacDonald. When Chambers’ widow later edited and published his devotional writings as “My Utmost for His Highest” she didn’t realize that much of the content was MacDonald, rather than her husband’s original thought – i.e. whe was innocent of any intentional plagiarism, but much (though by no means all, nor even most) of what people have read as “Oswald Chambers” is really George MacDonald. BTW the source for this bit of info is Jerry Root, editor of “The Quotable Lewis”, a colleague of MacDonald scholar Roland Hein at Wheaton College. He shared the above at a lecture I attended.

  7. Robert Trexler says

    Karl, thanks for the very interesting information about “My Utmost for His Highest” having large amounts of unacknowleged quotations from MacDonald. I’ve not heard that before. Are you from the midwest? Ever visit the Wade Center or attend the annual Lewis and Friends conference at Taylor University?

    IMournForTonks – – – thanks for your appreciative comments about Betty’s poetry. I forgot to mention that people can go to the Zossima home page and click a PDF file that gives you access to the poems for the whole month of January. It also includes a short introduction by me.

  8. Robert Trexler says

    I highly recommend the Taylor University Inklings conferences. The 2008 conference is the end of May / beginning of June.

    I’d love to get to the Wade Center one of these days. For those who don’t know what the Wade Center is, it is a sort of research library for the study of seven Christian writers: C.S. Lewis, JRR Tolkien, Dorothy Sayers, Owen Barfield, Charles Williams, George MacDonald, and GK Chesterton.

    The Wade Center director, Christopher Mitchell, will be speaking at the New York C.S. Lewis Society on the second Friday of November on the author Dorothy Sayers.

    Karl, maybe you will be able to attend a C.S. Lewis conference in Wake Forest, NC (east of Durham, NC). It’s at a Baptist Seminary there on October 26-27. Featured speakers are Walter Hooper, James Como, and Bruce Edwards. I’ll be there and (I think) so will John. The registration deadline is October 12th and there will be a nice banquet Friday night. The cost is $125 dollars.

    PS – Maybe your church would like to bring John down to Virginia to give some talks? I know he’d love to do it. He’s not all that far away to be able to drive there.

  9. Robert,

    I am from Virginia, but I attended college at Wheaton in the early 90’s. So yes, I’ve been to the Wade Center and know some of the people associated with it (past and present). I know some folks at Taylor but have never been there myself.

    Our church brought Jerry Root to Virginia to do a weekend series of lectures on C.S. Lewis and discipleship, and it was during that weekend that he shared the tidbit about MacDonald’s connection to My Utmost for His Highest. I have it on CD and have re-listened to it to make sure I had it right. I have googled to see if I could find that story confirmed or repeated anywhere, with no luck. But I’d be surprised if Jerry is wrong. He knows Hein pretty well and while he didn’t say, my guess is the anecdote either came from or at least was confirmed by Hein.

  10. Thanks for the suggestions Robert. All of that sounds great. Before we had our 3 kids I used to go to all kinds of great conferences like that. Now with girls aged 2, 4 and 6 my travel time to things like the Taylor Inklings conference or even the closer one at Wake Forest, is limited. That is really tempting though. I’ve read Walter Hooper and Bruce Edwards, but never heard them speak. What a treat that would be.

    I have heard Chris Mitchell speak on a couple of occasions, and have also had the pleasure of meeting him. He came to our church to do a series of lectures on Tolkien a few years ago. The Wade Center is well worth the trip to Wheaton – especially now that it is housed in its own building. If you go, make arrangements for some 1 on 1 time with Chris Mitchell, if you can. Jerry Root is also still at Wheaton I believe, and keeps office hours. I can’t speak for him obviously, but he might be willing to meet with a visitor who called ahead of time for 15 minutes or half an hour as well – it would be time you wouldn’t regret.

    We are in a new church where I have less influence over programs and speakers than I did at our prior church. But I’ll suggest that someone look into bringing John to the area.

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