April is the National Month of Poetry. Most people have a favorite poem—lines of verse that struck a chord in their heart perhaps due to a trial or triumph in their life that reflect the poem’s story. A person’s particular favorite may stir feelings of nostalgia, romance, victories, or religion. Some of us have even dabbled a bit in composing our own rhymes.
I thought it would be fun to share two of my favorite poems and explain why I find myself coming back to them. I’ve put the poems below for your enjoyment.
The first of my favorite poems is The Children’s Hour by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. It is a story of a father who sits in his study at twilight. He hears, edging closer, the sound of little feet and stifled whispers before he is suddenly ambushed by his three daughters. They devour their father with kisses and cuddles. While it may seem he is defeated, he declares himself the victor. He will never let them go. He will keep them he says, “down into the dungeon, in the round-tower of my heart. And there will I keep you forever, Yes, forever and a day…” This is a particular favorite of mine because it reminds me of my father—my dear “old mustache”. Some of my fondest memories are of me and my siblings starting a full scale attack that resulted in squealing peels of laughter as we sought desperately to escape his tickling reach. Oh, to rewind the clock and join again in that fun.
Another of my favorite poems is a short metaphysical poem called The Pulley by George Herbert. The poem describes the blessings God poured into man at our creation—blessings such as strength, beauty, and wisdom. At the bottom of this glass of blessings lies rest. God stays His hand, withholding this coveted gift however, He will allow man to keep the other gifts “but keep them with repining restlessness; Let him be rich and weary, that at least, if goodness lead him not, yet weariness may toss him to my breast.” I think Herbert captures the human condition succinctly in his short poem. Too often we are distracted by the things of this world or too delighted by ourselves to remember our Divine Creator. God, in His infinite wisdom, withheld perfect rest in order that we might, weary with the world, turn ourselves to Him and seek His heavenly repose.
I would love to hear what your favorite poem is! Sharing a great poem is truly like giving someone a beautiful gift.
The Children’s Hour
BY HENRY WADSWORTH LONGFELLOW
Between the dark and the daylight,
When the night is beginning to lower,
Comes a pause in the day’s occupations,
That is known as the Children’s Hour.
I hear in the chamber above me
The patter of little feet,
The sound of a door that is opened,
And voices soft and sweet.
From my study I see in the lamplight,
Descending the broad hall stair,
Grave Alice, and laughing Allegra,
And Edith with golden hair.
A whisper, and then a silence:
Yet I know by their merry eyes
They are plotting and planning together
To take me by surprise.
A sudden rush from the stairway,
A sudden raid from the hall!
By three doors left unguarded
They enter my castle wall!
They climb up into my turret
O’er the arms and back of my chair;
If I try to escape, they surround me;
They seem to be everywhere.
They almost devour me with kisses,
Their arms about me entwine,
Till I think of the Bishop of Bingen
In his Mouse-Tower on the Rhine!
Do you think, O blue-eyed banditti,
Because you have scaled the wall,
Such an old mustache as I am
Is not a match for you all!
I have you fast in my fortress,
And will not let you depart,
But put you down into the dungeon
In the round-tower of my heart.
And there will I keep you forever,
Yes, forever and a day,
Till the walls shall crumble to ruin,
And moulder in dust away!
BY GEORGE HERBERT
When God at first made man,
Having a glass of blessings standing by,
“Let us,” said he, “pour on him all we can.
Let the world’s riches, which dispersèd lie,
Contract into a span.”
So strength first made a way;
Then beauty flowed, then wisdom, honour, pleasure.
When almost all was out, God made a stay,
Perceiving that, alone of all his treasure,
Rest in the bottom lay.
“For if I should,” said he,
“Bestow this jewel also on my creature,
He would adore my gifts instead of me,
And rest in Nature, not the God of Nature;
So both should losers be.
“Yet let him keep the rest,
But keep them with repining restlessness;
Let him be rich and weary, that at least,
If goodness lead him not, yet weariness
May toss him to my breast.”