Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Let us then be up and doing with a heart for any fate. . .

NOTE: STRESS REDUCER-- I cannot post at your site! The security code doesn't seem to want to let me through! I have typed it in and it just doesn't work!

One of my favourite poems is by Longfellow and it is called A Psalm of Life. I first read this when I picked up a discounted America's Favorite Poems by Robert Pinsky. I never really understood poetry and this book with people's stories made me love poems because I was able to make them a part of me as I remembered the stories.

What moved me first about this poem was that a minister, the Rev. Michael Haynes liked it. He was/is an older minister whose family hailes from Barbados. It was mentioned in the book how this poem reached out to him and was part of the essence of Christianity. I quickly memorized this because while I doubt my faith all the time, the need to reach out and improve myself for the sake of others keeps me going. I recited this at my dad's funeral and at any other event that I could. Tonight I was surfing for something else and ended up at the poem project and got to hear this minister recite it. It was amazing. I got very teary eyed and I don't know why-- maybe that a Black East Coast minister who I will never meet had such an impact on me, and on my dad because I had read his story. I read this many times to my dad while he was dying-- he loved it and asked me to read it to him or I'd have not read it. He liked the whole thing but especially loved this verse:

Let us, then, be up and doing,
With a heart for any fate ;
Still achieving, still pursuing,
Learn to labor and to wait.

He told me that he accomplished the most when he was busy and thinking that he was doing nothing, "Learn to labor and to wait."

But this isn't about my dad--- this is about some poetry that I love. Actually, it is about poetry that other people love. I had to sit and listen to every one of the poems that are online being read. Stephen Murphy's nephew was dying and the poem called The Emigrant Irish by Eavan Boland moved him. For a small period of time, a few minutes, it made everything all right. He carries the poem around in his wallet, and thinks of his niece with the same affliction that her big brother had.

My former massage teacher read The Road Not Taken (not on this project-- he read it in our class.) It's by Robert Frost. My former massage teacher, convinced that the medical model was killing people and based on the expectation of illness, and he is right, but he left it three weeks into his residency and became a massage teacher. He recited this and I don't think that it's ever been read by anyone as well. Dear Robert Frost couldn't have done it justice like my teacher did, and I was glad to have heard him recite it. Now the poem is part of my life and I will tell the story of what I liked of him. (I don't need the negative to be carried with this!)

I will write more, but I am tired. Because of this book, I got turned on to poetry.

Oh-- one of the finest professors to ever teach English was Dr. Arlene Kuhner. She died many years ago, but I will never forget her reciting anything we asked of her. She was Canadian by birth, as well as very talented. If I can ever do justice to poetry and read one tenth of one percent as well as she did, I will be very blessed and more skilled than most people at reading it!


Stressless said...

That's a great poem - I'll have to pick up that book "America's Favorite Poems". Sounds like a good mantra. Thanks for the post.

Shauna Roberts said...

Thanks for a lovely post and for visiting my blog.

Nine kids! Wow! You must have some energy!