(For our God is a consuming fire… — Hebrews 12:29)
The New Testament’s portrayal of God as “a consuming fire” (Hebrews 12:29) is not very attractive to some. But theologically, it did attract me, and I thought I might write a poem with a more favorable perspective on this aspect of God’s nature. I would explore it starting from the creation in Genesis, jumping through Bible history, and ending at the “new heaven and new earth” in the Apocalypse. Shortly after having that intention, I read about the challenging structure of an heroic crown of sonnets on Wikipedia. I wondered. . . .
Could I really pull it off? 14 sonnets on one theme, written in the “crown” style—the last line of each sonnet becoming the first line of the next one, and concluding the 14th sonnet with the 1st sonnet’s first line. But the “heroic” form required a 15th sonnet, the “mastersonnet,” composed consecutively of the first lines of each of the 14 sonnets, yet poetically clear, coherent and flowing. Obviously, the mastersonnet would have to be written first.
So, I started sifting my Bible knowledge for 14 sub-themes that connect God with “fire.” Then, in compiling the mastersonnet, I crafted its 14 lines both to fit their context and to serve as openers for their respective sonnets. As you can imagine, in finishing the couplets of the 14 sonnets, I frequently had to jump to and from the mastersonnet, often, tweaking or revising the first lines, so they would fit nicely in three different locations. Et la voilà!
David L. Hatton