Robyn Hood Black - children's author, poet, artist









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Hanging with fellow Georgia writers (from top, l-r) Tracy Walker, Heather Kolich, Donna Bowman, (bottom, middle) Janice Hardy and Paula Puckett
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Susan Rosson Spain, Robyn Hood Black, Elizabeth Dulemba, and Myra Meade at the Hall Book Exchange in Gainesville, Ga.
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Robyn with Kathleen Duey, author extraordinaire http://www.kathleenduey.com

Robyn with Alaska Nature Writer Debbie Miller http://www.debbiemilleralaska.com

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Life on the Deckle Edge

Poetry Friday - Seeking Solace in Old Poetry

August 17, 2017

Tags: Words or phrases to categorize this post for the tags section


Greetings, Friends. I had another idea brewing for today, but this week…

In times of trouble I often take comfort in words left behind by others, even centuries ago.
I dove into my studio stash of vintage poetry books, and thought I might find something in one for children – so I thumbed through THE YOUNG FOLKS’ SHELF OF BOOKS, THE JUNIOR CLASSICS 10 – Poetry, Reading Guide, Indexes, part of The Junior Classics Series by Collier.

It was published in 1938, the year my mother was born, and features everything from riddles and nursery rhymes to Shakespeare.

1938 – the year of Kristallnacht, “Night of Broken Glass.”

I was born in 1963 – the year a bomb ripped through 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, killing four precious girls.

I suppose this past week has reminded me that we can’t just rest, settle, and assume the worst of all that is behind us in this country (or any country). In the mid-1980s, my husband and I, as a young married couple, joined most of a small town in North Carolina in a street-lined protest of marching KKK members. At first those marching thought the crowds had turned out to support them, but then their faces changed as they realized we were all standing calmly, singing I think?, to counter their message of hate that day. I wouldn’t have dreamed then that the headlines would be what they are today, late in the second decade of the 21st Century.

This poem by Christina Rossetti (1830-1894) though likely about the journey of life and a spiritual journey particularly, spoke to me somehow in the midst of these heavy days.


UP-HILL

Does the road wind up-hill all the way?
      Yes, to the very end.
Will the day’s journey take the whole long day?
      From morn to night, my friend.

But is there for the night a resting-place?
      A roof for when the slow dark hours begin.
May not the darkness hide it from my face?
      You cannot miss that inn.

Shall I meet other wayfarers at night?
      Those who have gone before.
Then must I knock, or call when just in sight?
      They will not keep you standing at that door.

Shall I find comfort, travel-sore and weak?
      Of labor you shall find the sum.
Will there be beds for me and all who seek?
      Yea, beds for all who come.




I was heartened this week, when on a rare check of my Facebook feed, I saw two posts show up by friends who are also kidlit people, both in Georgia. The posts were back to back, and strangely both were about small acts of civility and warmth in grocery stores. The folks involved were black, Hispanic, white… looking out for the needs of others – strangers – and offering a cup of kindness.

This next poem reminded me of staying grounded in the midst of chaos. Four hundred years have passed since it was written, but the words still ring fresh to me. This one is by Thomas Campion (1567-1620).



INTEGER VITAE

The man of life
     Whose guiltless heart is free
From all dishonest deeds,
      Or thought of vanity;

The man whose silent days
      In harmless joys are spent,
Whom hopes cannot delude,
      Nor sorrow discontent;

That man needs neither towers
      Nor armor for defense,
Nor secret vaults to fly
      From thunder’s violence;

He only can behold
      With unaffrighted eyes
The horrors of the deep
      And terrors of the skies;

Thus, scorning all the cares
      That fate or fortune brings,
He makes the heaven his book,
      His wisdom heavenly things;

Good thoughts his only friends,
      His wealth a well-spent age,
The earth his sober inn
      And quiet pilgrimage.



Note: I didn't really absorb the similar "inn" symbolism in both poems until posting them here... I'll ponder and sleep on that.

{ Prayers for all who are oppressed or grieving this day, and prayers for peaceful days ahead. }

Many thanks to Kay at A Journey Through the Pages for Rounding Up today - her first time hosting! She, and I’m guessing many of us, are all on a similar path this week, seeking the solace and light of poetry.

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