Do you like poetry? Do you enjoy reciting poems? One of the too many to count reasons that I am grateful to my mother and father is their emphatic statement that I would graduate from a college. Not only did they insist that I attend college, they paid for my education by sacrificing many of the things they might have desired. For twenty- six years, my mother and father paid tuitions to colleges so that their children might be educated.
I do not pretend today that I could gain admission to Tufts University for their current requirements are beyond my ability. I say that without any doubt. When I attended Tufts in the fifty’s, classes were small for fewer children were born during the depression years. Therefore, it was much easier to gain admission to a good college, but that did not mean classes or demands upon the students was less severe. On the first day of class, the professor said look to your right and look to your left; only one of the three of you will graduate from this college. With my own struggle to learn and my parent’s insistence that I not give up in spite of my grades, I graduated with the class of 1956. How that opened up life for me and made me appreciate the world, history, and forever learning.
My major in college was English Literature, and to this day, I love to read both literature and poetry. The professors I studied under, one of them called the great white father Dr. Blanchard, brought the love of poetry into his students’ hearts and lives. We studied the poetry and literature of the Victorian Era, the Romantic Period, the Medieval Ages; we read the plays by William Shakespeare. We also studied modern poets like Gerard Manley Hopkins, and if you are unfamiliar with his poetry, you need to read it and see how beautiful it is.
Poetry speaks to us of life, of love, of challenges, of history, of bravery of death and sadness and resurrection and eternity. Reading a poem can cause wonderful emotions to arise and to capture your mind and lift your spirit. In poetry, you can relive a part of your life and feel the inner joy of having life and a soul.
Recently, I came upon a poet named Robert Tristram Coffin who was born in 1892 and died in 1955. He lived and taught in Brunswick Maine. During his lifetime, he received the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry. Much of his poetry is similar to that of Robert Frost to whom he expressed his gratitude for teaching him much about poetry.
I came upon one of his poems, and it touched my heart and brightened my day. I would like to share it with you as we walk. It is entitled, The Secret Heart.
Across the years he could recall
His father one way best of all.
In the stillness hour of night
The boy awakened to a light.
Half in dreams, he saw his sire
With his great hands full of fire.
The man had struck a match to see
If his son slept peacefully.
He held his palms each side the spark
His love had kindled in the dark.
His two hands were curved apart
In the semblance of a heart.
He wore, it seemed to his small son
A bare heart on his hidden one.
A heart that gave out such a glow
No son awake could bear to know.
It showed a look upon a face
Too tender for the day to trace.
One instant, it lit all about
And then the secret heart went out.
But it shone long enough for one
To know that hands held up the sun.
I cannot read that poem without thinking of our children, and how when they were little, we would look in upon them, especially if they were ill. And I cannot read that poem without thinking of my father coming into our rooms at Christmas time to turn out the candles in our windows. So often when he did that, he would bend over and kiss us gently on the cheek or forehead. Fathers feel the same as mothers and thank goodness today as women have achieved more outside the home, men have begun to take more responsibility for their children. But it should be remembered just as roles are different for women today, so were roles different for men in the past. A man was not supposed to show much emotion. His job was to earn a living to support his family. However, do not think there were not fathers as tender as the one in this poem probably written in the nineteen twenties. I know this is true for my father was one of those who would look down at his children when they were in bed and hold his hands in his heart as does the father of the poet Robert Coffin.
And the last two lines of that poem say so much about our faith. God is just like that human father looking down upon his sleeping child. As the father and mother look down upon their young children at all times and even more when their child is ill, so does our Heavenly Father, as Jesus calls Him, look down in love and compassion upon us.
Do you have a favorite poem? Share it with me in your comments. I’m always looking for a new poem to learn more about this gift called Life and the God we adore.
See you next week. I’m not sure what we will talk about but then maybe the poem you love.
“And now may the Lord watch between me and thee while we are absent one from thee other.”