The Bible Poem

On Thursday the 11th, as we sat talking to Mother…some one asked for Miriam. She went down, and presently I heard her thanking somebody for a letter…I ran back, and sitting at Mother’s feet, told her Miriam was coming with a letter from Lydia. “Mother! Mother!” a horrible voice cried, and before I could think who it was, Miriam rushed in, holding an open letter in her hand, and perfectly wild. “George is dead!”, she shrieked, and fell heavily to the ground.

-“A Confederate Girl’s Diary” by Sarah Morgan Dawson

The Farming Daughter: The Bible Poem (https://thefarmingdaughter.com/2015/10/26/the-bible-poem/)
Photo by Emily Ann Putzke

While now we think of handwritten letters mainly as a quaint form of correspondence, during the Civil War letters were much more important. Letters were cables of communication connecting apprehensive families at home with their men far away at war. They were lifelines of relief, reassuring anxious mothers that their boys had survived the deadly battle. And all too often letters were the messengers of death, telling the sad tale of the fallen. Imagine waiting, possibly for weeks, between letters, never knowing what those sheets of paper would contain when they arrived.

I wrote this poem to include in a Civil War letter I was writing to a friend. I was inspired by the common practice of sending the remaining possessions of the dead back to the their families. Usually a letter would be written to a family by the deceased man’s commanding officer or comrade. The letter would explain the news of his death, and often times contain some trinket from the departed. A silver watch, a last letter, a lock of golden hair, a brass coat button, all offering one last tangible link with the loved one who had died, and was probably buried hundreds of miles away.

I also wanted this poem to depict the sentiments of death and dying held by most people in the 19th century, while also reflecting my own personal faith. Somewhat unconsciously I explored and juxtaposed the widely differing effect words have. How strange that the same twenty-six characters can be arranged to plunge a heart into the depths of despair, or raise their souls in glorious hope! I hope you enjoy reading The Bible.

 

The Bible

 

With bloodless white lips and ashen pale cheek

She took the small bundle, unable to speak

As cold premonition’s sharp claws gripped her throat

She steadied herself and read the short note

 

The letter was writ in a thick, unknown hand

And she sank to a chair, unable to stand

For Joseph, her dearest, ‘midst the thick storm of lead

Had not conquered triumphant, but was struck down instead

 

She glanced at her hand and the dainty gold ring

How bitter the blow and full cruel the sting!

That cut down their hopes so recent in bloom

Now laid like her sweetheart in the black of the tomb

 

Intensely, but softly she wept in her grief

And the rivulet of tears found no relief

Her thin shoulders shook and she let out a moan

As she thought of her Joe dying unaided, alone

 

At last, sorrow spent, she shuddered a sigh

And chancing a look down something appeared in her eye

In her haste she had forgot that in the bundle was more

And when sorrow struck, it had dropped to the floor

 

Curious, she picked up the ponderous thing

And gently unloosed its wrap of paper and string

And lo! In her lap fell a small leather book

That she herself bought and with him Joe took

 

Tenderly she stroked the cover, smooth from much use

And fingered the thin pages that were starting to loose

A few of the leaves were smudged black with powder

And she thought of him reading as the cannon boomed louder

 

Tucked ‘tween the pages she found something there

A photograph of her image and a lock of her hair

These three treasured possessions that he carried always

On march, into battle, and in the last fray

 

Holding a passage was a silk ribbon of red

That she had pulled from her tresses, her heart full of dread

The marked verses were spotted with the salty tear’s stain

Mute evidence of the hope ‘midst the deep sorrow gained

 

And inscribed near the front in two simple lines

She read what she had written in happier times

“I commend thee to God, Joseph my love,

We shall soon meet again, or else meet above.”

 

These simple words, the work of her pen

Like bread on the water had come back again

For God knew the hour, the minute, the day

When her Joe would be taken and carried away

 

Then the promise of the Lord gave strength to her heart

And she knew those in Christ would not long be apart

For on that bright morning when the last trumpet will sound

The dead will arise, and the lost will be found.

 

-Michaela Richmond

October 20, 2015

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Now He Belongs to the Ages

Sesquicentennial of the death of Abraham Lincoln Poem

 

Today marks the 150th anniversary of the death of Abraham Lincoln. As a tribute I have written this poem:

 

Now He Belongs to the Ages

 

Our country rejoices in peace come at last,

Now avarice and strife are confined to the past.

The sword it is shivered and there in its stead,

The olive branch waves o’er the field of the dead.

 

The four years long struggle is finally done,

The dark night is finished and bright dawns the sun,

The cannons have ceased their deafening roar,

While the shriek of the fife resounds never more.

 

Our banner victorious, we broke tyranny’s chain,

And joined North and South together again.

Exult all ye people, from East to the West,

We have withstood the fires and passed through the test!

 

But what is this shadow that’s lending its pall,

And turned sweetest vict’ry to bitterest gall?

The loathsome assassin has fired a blow,

That found its dread mark and laid our Chief low.

 

The Jubilee is quenched on this blackest of days,

And hope fallen cold where our brave Captain lays.

The time of our triumph intended for gladness,

Is drained of its joy and instead changed to sadness.

 

How little we valued while he was yet ours,

And failed to acknowledge the strength of his powers.

When he was among us, his greatness too near,

Now that he’s left us the truth becomes clear.

 

He was man of the people and yet stood alone,

Whom many have seen, but little have known.

Open and frank, yet guarded, contained,

Laughingly cheerful mixed with sadness and pain.

 

He was kind and forgiving, but solid and steady,

Deliberate and patient, yet active and ready,

Humble of character and humble of birth,

That belied his significance and obscured his worth.

 

Oh anomaly of men! Our comprehension failed,

Until his spirit had already passed through the veil.

Now he is counted among the rulers and sages,

He is no longer ours, now he belongs to the ages.

 

-Michaela Richmond

April 15, 2015

Fall Wildfires

fall pic 1

Cold weather has sparked, and kindled a blaze

That burns through the forest till the end of fall’s days

Simply smoldering at first on the tips of the trees

Before insatiably ravaging the whole of the leavesfall pic 2

Tingeing the hillside with colors of light

The orange and the gold ‘midst green shining bright

Then quickly fading away in a blink and a flash

Darkened to brown like the dying ember’s ashfall pic 3

Brittle and cracked like the tome’s dusty page

They flutter to earth with the onset of age

Leaving staunch oak and fair maple bereft of their crown

Verdant pine’s greenery alone to be found

fall pic 4But how odd that in the humble leaf’s passing

Is then that its beauty is so brilliantly flashing

But dormant hope still resides, even in death

Which will awaken ere long when fanned by spring’s breath

fall pic 5So let us still look for hope in the bitterest defeat

Which will soothe the deep hurt and make the gall sweet

For after the bare branch withstands the long cold

Is then the green shoot springs out from the old

fall pic 6

 

Poem written by me, October 26, 2013.

-The Farming Daughter