Full Title: A Book of Strife in the Form of the Diary of an Old Soul.
Who: George MacDonald, 19th-century Scottish preacher, poet, and novelist. He had a profound influence on C. S. Lewis, Madeleine L’Engle, and many others.
Overview: MacDonald arranged this book into 366 daily readings, most of which are devotional and meditative. Each day has a seven-line stanza, many of which are addressed as prayers. (John Keble, an Anglican, had produced the much more popular “Christian Year” about 50 years earlier.)
This is probably MacDonald’s best book of poetry, though he has many. His poetry is a mix of the sentimental (very accessible) and more classical attempts (very inaccessible).
Meat: The stanzas here are simple, devotional thoughts and prayers, many of which can help to express a longing for God. Like the Epistle of James, MacDonald is always stirring his readers to be “doers, and not hearers only.” He speaks from the heart and speaks to the root of the spiritual life.
Bones: MacDonald’s poetry here is simple, and occasionally simplistic. My only other criticism is that MacDonald is so introspective. It can be rather angsty at times.
“When I no more can stir my soul to move,
And life is but the ashes of a fire;
When I can but remember that my heart
Once used to live and love, long and aspire,—
Oh, be thou then the first, the one thou art;
Be thou the calling, before all answering love,
And in me wake hope, fear, boundless desire.”