Sunday, February 12, 2017

Grandfather Poem


One of a series of meditations on the arc of our lives.


John T. Wrinkle (1883 - 1973). Born in Missouri. Contracted polio at 3 years old, orphaned at 8.
Won a scholarship to MIT, graduating in 1906 with a degree in architecture.


If he thought at all
about social standing
and what it meant to
work at a desk
and wear clean suits
it was probably just
in the hazy way
that most of us stumble
through teen-age years

he wasn’t much for
horsing around
a teen-age boy
is a boy apart
when his body has
let him down
but he was bright
as bright could be

If he felt at all
out of place
in the Boulevards
of Copley Square
the halls of university
if he did he carried it
quietly
tweed wool suits
every picture a tie
a cane

always seated
pipe thin legs
shielded by trouser creases
modeling peace
modeling slow and steady work
laid out before us to
take and hold or not
a quiet place to start the ride
into our own tumultuous age.


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Sunday, February 5, 2017

Nineteen Forty-six

One of a series of meditations on the arc of our lives.


Ellen Wrinkle and Donald Kearns: Ellen's Senior Prom at American International College, Springfield, Massachusetts. 1946

She and he wrote letters
across miles of New England that—
viewed from here
are always gray
and white and black
looming trees by every house
narrow streets with
sputtering Fords—

the trees were green
in forty-six
the railroad between
Springfield and New Bedford
was soot-silver and
blue cloth seats
red signal lights
sun-lit hours
that stretched across
the Taunton Woods
past Providence and Boston
and roared toward infinite
days and months and
years and years ahead


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Saturday, December 24, 2016

Charles Dickens on Christmas


There are many Christmas poems, and I'm always on the lookout for new ones. What I really like, though, are poems that reach out beyond the obvious Christian message to something more universal.

 I would love to hear about your favorite Christmas Poems!

The popular Carol “I Heard the Bells On Christmas Day” comes from a poem “Christmas Bells” by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807 – 1882). Written in 1863 during the heart of the Civil War, it reflects world turmoil similar to what we all might feel today. Omitting three dark stanzas about the Civil war, it goes:

 I heard the bells on Christmas Day
Their old, familiar carols play,
    And wild and sweet
    The words repeat
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

And thought how, as the day had come,
The belfries of all Christendom
    Had rolled along
    The unbroken song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!


And in despair I bowed my head;
“There is no peace on earth," I said;
    “For hate is strong,
    And mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!”

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
“God is not dead, nor doth He sleep;
    The Wrong shall fail,
    The Right prevail,

With peace on earth, good-will to men.”

This is still a little sappy for me, depending again on the mighty hand of God to make everything right again. My current favorite Christmas "poem" is actually a poetic section from a Charles Dickens essay, What Christmas Is As We Grow Older.

                                  Welcome, everything!
                             Welcome, alike what has been,
                                   and what never was,
                               and what we hope may be,
                         to your shelter underneath the holly,
                       to your places round the Christmas fire,
                           where what is sits open-hearted! 

And here is a link to the complete essay. Enjoy!

What Christmas Is as We Grow Older; Charles Dickens