April is National Poetry Month.
In Central Park on Saturday for the Radio Bookworm fundraiser, Don Keil read poems by Edgar Guest and his readings brought back memories of my childhood. Edgar A. Guest was a very popular poet at one time and my folks’ library contained several books of poems – Guests’ among them.
When I was young, our teachers required us to memorize quite lengthy poems (few of which I remember today – or only a verse or two of some of them: “under the spreading chestnut tree, the village smithy stands . . .” comes to mind!) – Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.
Evangeline by Longfellow
Christmas Bells by Longfellow (I heard the bells on Christmas day . . .)
Crossing the Bar by Alfred Tennyson
Hiawatha’s Childhood by Longfellow (Good Grief – this was a difficult one to learn!). “By the shores of Gitche Gumee . . .”
Abou Ben Adhem by James Henry Leigh Hunt
The list goes on. One of my very favorite poets (one I read over and over again) is Emily Dickinson. However, she was not one of the poets that we learned about when I was in grade school.
The Lord had a job for me, but I had so much to do.
I said: “You get somebody else–or wait till I get through.”
I don’t know how the Lord came out, but He seemed to get along,
But I felt kind o’ sneakin’ like–knowed I’d done God wrong.
One day I needed the Lord, needed him right away–
And he never answered me at all, but I could hear him say
Down in my accusin’ heart–“Nigger, I’s got too much to do.
You get somebody else or wait till I get through.”
Now, when the Lord has a job for me, I never tries to shirk;
I drops what I have on hand and does the good Lord’s work;
and my affairs can run along, or wait till I get through.
Nobody else can do the work that God’s marked out for you.
–Paul Laurence Dunbar