Poetry Friday {Poetry Month!}

There is a Poetry Potluck, and its first taste has been good.

Happy Poetry Month! I am treating myself to the luxury of reading poetry every day this month. Yes, I am crazy-busy still. The school visit, journal essay, and newsletter editing have all had to be tucked in to the corners of the time left to me after I ripped up the roots of my novel and transplanted it into a new bed. But can I love poetry and turn my back on the Poetry Makers? No, I think not. GLBTQ Poetry Makers are covered by Superhero Lee (that Langston Hughes poem makes me weep.) And it’s National Poetry Month — that means it’s also time for Thirty Poets in Thirty Days which was great last year, and looks to be a wonderful celebration again this year.

Yes, time is a luxury – I don’t have a lot.

But poetry is an even bigger luxury. And this month, I have tons of it. With such a bounty…

How Can I Keep From Singing?
Kelvingrove Park 260

My life flows on in endless song:

Above earth’s lamentation,
I catch the sweet, tho’ far-off hymn

That hails a new creation.
Through all the tumult and the strife

I hear the music ringing;
It finds an echo in my soul–

How can I keep from singing?

(The 1950 stanza, by Doris Plenn)

When tyrants tremble, sick with fear,

And hear their death-knell ringing,
When friends rejoice both far and near,

How can I keep from singing?
In prison cell and dungeon vile,

Our thoughts to them go winging;
When friends by shame are undefiled,

How can I keep from singing?

This poem, Always Rejoicing, was published in 1868, in the New York Observer, and was written by a woman who identified herself solely as Pauline T. This was modest of her — as was fitting with a 19th century woman — but I always wished she had stepped forward and claimed her poem. I wonder if she ever realized how long her words — turned Baptist hymn, turned Quaker plainsong, turned Seeger folksong — would go on. And imagine the wonder of a poem simply printed in the paper — that people took into their homes and read. The reverberations of the simple, Christian words went on and on. I hope she got a great deal of joy from the many people who find this their go-to happy song.

These are the hymn portions of the song, which few people know or sing anymore:

What tho’ my joys and comfort die?

The Lord my Saviour liveth;
What tho’ the darkness gather round?

Songs in the night he giveth.
No storm can shake my inmost calm,

While to that refuge clinging;
Since Christ is Lord of heaven and earth,

How can I keep from singing?
I lift my eyes; the cloud grows thin;

I see the blue above it;
And day by day this pathway smooths,

Since first I learned to love it.
The peace of Christ makes fresh my heart,

A fountain ever springing;
All things are mine since I am his–

How can I keep from singing?

May Spring and Pesach and Easter and Poetry Month find you singing today.

Kelvingrove Park 35

P.S.: Poetry Friday is rounded up today at The Book Aunt. Yes, there’s another one, and she, too is more than awesome. Rejoice, O Book-Receiving Nieces and Nephews!

4 Replies to “Poetry Friday {Poetry Month!}”

  1. I love these lines:

    I hear the music ringing;

    It finds an echo in my soul–

    How can I keep from singing?

    And I wanted to say thank you for the kind words you’ve posted on my blog in support of my poetry. I know the entire process I am going through is helping me grieve for what I’ve never known and then, perhaps, make room for something new.

  2. Tanita,

    Thank you for sharing this inspiring hymn! I love reading the history of hymns. Have you read the history on “Amazing Grace.” It is truly amazing.

    Laura Evans
    all things poetry

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