Book Review: “The Inextinguishable Flame”
This is a book of poems by Simon Shepherd that is based on Biblical themes and spiritual inspirations that the author has gathered from society, culture, friendships and nature.
I am not a poet. The reader should note that the last time I ever read a poem, other than those in the Scriptures was when I was an undergraduate some sixty-five years ago. Classic poetry was part of a mandatory English literature survey class aimed at nerd engineering majors.
The one thing I do remember from that course was Lord Byron’s poem “The Destruction of Sennacherib,” a poem alluded to by Bro. Simon in his forward. Like the author, I admired then and now the majesty of that poem. Hence, it was a pleasure to go on from his foreword to read the many poems that alluded to Scripture.
There is no need for me to comment on the poetic structure because I don’t know the differences between free verse, sonnets, Haiku, etc. However, one doesn’t have to be an artist to appreciate the great art in a museum—it’s just a question of knowing what you like.
In the case of this book, there is much to like. It’s worth noting that approximately a third of the Bible was written in poetry. There was a good reason for that—poetry makes thoughts easier to remember and transmit. For example, I have known many individuals who could recite bits and pieces from the Psalms without ever being aware they were quoting the poet, King David.
approximately a third of the Bible was written in poetry
This book provides many outstanding passages that are well worth remembering in times of doubt, stress, grief, love, fear, sadness, depression, cheerfulness, and thanksgiving (to name a few special to me).
I will recite a few examples, specifically to whet your appetite, so you will rush to read this book.
The poem on page 119 is a tribute to missionaries (and is apparently where the author based the name for his book). He wrote, “There is an inextinguishable flame—within the breast of those who proclaim.” That particularly resonated with me, having traveled to many parts of the world to teach the gospel message.
Other poems give spiritual insight into how people can respond to something so simple as an unexpectedly warm day in winter (“The Day Spring came in December,” page 23). Some poems seem so melodic they cry out for music (page 30, “Whims of the Wind”). Other poems particularly touched me because of my current situation in life (i.e., old age!).
The poem “Hands of Time” on page 111 was especially poignant. The author also has several very evocative poems written as tributes to beloved brethren who are now asleep in Christ, awaiting the resurrection. They deserve to be remembered because the memory of their lives inspires us; the author’s poems help us do that. The book is replete with graphic illustrations from many different brothers and sisters that add immeasurably to the beauty of the manuscript.
Note also that contrary to custom, many of the poems in this book include footnotes. They are worth reading and provide insights not usually associated with poetry. Moreover, all proceeds from the sale of this book are donated to “Agape in Action.”
I recommend this book, without reservation and I truly hope it goes through multiple print runs in the future.
To purchase this book or make inquiries, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org. Also, please see for additional information on this fine book.
John C. Bilello
Ann Arbor Ecclesia, MI
Here’s a sample from The Inextinguishable Flame
ABIDE WITH ME (THE RESPONSE)
I know thy grieving, dear child, have no doubt.
It is My shadow that blocks the sun’s rays out.
For sun and cloudless skies won’t bring you near,
As darkened days provoke Me to appear.
As rain clouds bring the rainbow up above,
Know I must chasten all those whom I love.
As stormy night precedes the morning sun,
Eternity waits for each suffering one.
My voice propels the wind at My command.
When storms surround you–I will hold your hand.
You’ll not be forsaken or ever out of view,
Abide in me as I abide in you.
Come, hear My son, whom I sent you in My Name,
Whose sacrifice of love endured the shame.
His tears were previous in Gethsemane,
As was the blood which flowed from Calvary.
I’ve done My utmost that man be reconciled,
Withholding not My dear beloved child.
His pain was great, so great a sacrifice,
No other offering could pay such a price.
This poem is a proposed sequel to the hymn that we will all know and love, from the One who is more than just its subject matter, but our very Creator. These words are simply a poetic rendition of what He would have us know from His Word, that we often rely on Him when times are difficult and so must we see chastening as a calling to draw closer to him.