November 15 – Just finished reading a couple e-mails, including one from our son David who is a talented poet! Actually both of our kids grew up enjoying poetry of all kinds, especially the limericks and humorous ones with the punch line on the fifth. But before long they were branching off to the poems of history, and nature, and character. As they went off to school and enjoyed the poetry units in English classes, they began to write their own. How well I remember both kids coming up with interesting verses right on through the years. Folks have asked Dale and me to write some lines in honor of friends. Sometimes they want to thank their friends or poke a little fun at them.
Often in the evenings before television had become so popular, the four of us would sit around the kitchen table writing one line for a poem before passing on the paper to the one next in line. Often even the first one or two lines would be comical and we would chuckle! Sometimes one of the kids, after reading a couple lines that they just knew had to be written by their dad, would point a finger at him and say something like, “Oh, Dad! Why did you say that?” When Dale answered by asking, “Well, how do you KNOW that I wrote that?” One of the kids would answer, “Well, surely nobody else would!”
Back to their school poetry… They were often asked by the teachers to memorize a poem to go along with whatever special holiday the school would be celebrating. At home we tried to make sure they did more than memorize. They had to speak with good expression, even if it meant altering their usual voice to match the occasion.
By the time they were in high school they had become acquainted with some of the more well-known and loved poets taken from our books of poetry, which filled shelves in the book case in the living room.
(I think I had better stop here and let you know that if you don’t appreciate poetry, you might as well skip over the following list of poets! But for those of you who really do enjoy that subject, keep on reading).
I could have added another big paragraph of poets, but the following list is long enough: Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Robert Burns, Lewis Carroll, Emily Dickinson, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Eugene Field, Robert Frost, Julia Ward Howe, Helen Hunt Jackson, John Keats, Francis Scott Key, Rudyard Kipling, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, James Russell Lowell, Edna St Vincent Millay, James Whitcomb Riley, Christina Rossetti, Carl Sandburg, Walter Scott, Percy Bysshe Shelley, Robert Louis Stevenson, John Greenleaf Whittier, and William Wordsworth. (and I removed another twenty-five poets from list, but I guess there are still enough left!)
OK, now back to the blog, and son David. Twenty-five years ago, he came up with a special Thanksgiving idea to celebrate the wonderful holiday (inspired by Garrison Keillor). In the church were many folks of all ages. He told them that he would write a Thanksgiving poem containing suggestions written by all those who would like to contribute to the song. While the service was taking place, he would find a quiet place of his own where he would get all of the notes arranged in various categories, and then proceed to write the song. Two hours later, his wife and two friends were standing on the platform behind the pulpit waiting to sing the three songs he had written and set to music as he accompanied them on the piano.
This year many of the church folks were out of town, and others would not be back next week or the next. It seemed as if there would have to be a cancellation of the project. Now, how could that be, when this work had been going on for these 25 years with hardly a problem! Working with the church family, the folks involved decided that they would continue the project. The first verse of the first song this year was the first verse of the first song David created those 25 years ago. I’m sure some of the church folks remembered that occasion and maybe even something they had submitted to be included in the songs every year.
Now just a closing of this blog. When Biz was about 3, she was chosen by someone in the church to memorize a very short poem by Emily Dickinson, a well-known writer. I can still see her trying her best to make sure she said each word correctly with good expression. She would tip toe around the living room saying the lines quietly to herself—until she would say quite loudly, “I know how to say that “pome” now because I learned how to do it, all by myself!” (Yes, I know the correct spelling of poem isn’t showing up, but that’s how she pronounced it then!) While David and I were facing her as she climbed up on the couch, she very carefully pronounced every word.
With a typical smile, she said, “They might not need me; but they might. I’ll let my head be just in sight; A smile as small as mine might be. Precisely their necessity.” ― Emily Dickinson.
If I never remembered any other part of that poem, I would never forget the three words, “Precisely their necessity.” And that’s the reason I am putting this part in the blog. As Dale and I were lying awake a couple nights ago, I mentioned to him that for some reason, I was going over and over the few lines I could remember from the poem Biz delivered when she was so young. About half an hour later with both of us trying to remember, there were the words that I had been trying to come up with! That was really surprising to me because the little story about Precisely took place about 87 years ago.
Now David memorized poetry as if he would never again have the privilege of storing treasures in his brain! One of those lengthy poems begins, “Howdy, Mr. Winter, if it isn’t you again!”
Howdy, Mr. Winter! If it isn’t you again!
Haven’t had a visit from you since I dunno when.
Though I heard you laughin’–must ‘a’ been a week ago–
When the north wind shouted just as it began to blow;
Thought I heard you chuckle when the grass was turned to brown
An’ the withered flowers lost their holt an’ fluttered down.
Hear you at the window; hear you in the chimney, too–
Howdy, Mister Winter; howdy, howdy do!
(and on for three more verses…)
As you can see if you reread this blog, poetry has always been a part of the life of the Fairchild family! Not only do we still enjoy reading the thoughts of others expressed in poetry, but it’s a good feeling to know that we still can remember so many of those poems, just as if we were way back years ago memorizing them – CHRIS