I have not been very good about regular posting to this blog since most of my work appears on one of my family history blogs Trovando Famiglia or The Family Letter Blog – which is really frustrating because this is the blog on which I have the most “followers.”
But in about a month that will change as I participate – for my third year! – in National Poetry Writing Month. Although I’m sure that March is a “Na- something month,” it’s nice to have a break after February’s Family History Writing Month before gearing up for another monthly writing challenge.
But in the spirit of getting ready for National Poetry Writing Month and as a tie-in to my true passion, which is family history, here are two poems that were published in old newspapers. I don’t know about you – but I think it might be nice if today’s newspapers started publishing more poetry and uplifting stories – instead of the gloom and doom “news” we get nowadays.
That’s why I read old newspapers – and honestly – you’d be surprised how many common themes seem to repeat from days gone by. That’s about as close to politics as I’m going get – I like to keep my social media presence apolitical.
So here’s a poem written by my great great grandmother Annie McNabb Preston, published in the Washington Post on March 25, 1894, just a few months short of the first anniversary of her husband’s death.
Butterflies on wing, up-soaring in mellow June,
And worn on hilltops, sun-kissed with hope of day –
Moonlight upon waves with rhythm of tender tune –
A rainbow in evening sky, tinted by sunset ray,
Or rose with heart of light and pink of opening leaf;
Or fields of waving grain, or wheat in golden sheaf;
Or ships in sail, to prosperous havens sent –
These are life, with love and heart’s content.
Butterflies with broken wing, in autumn, prone,
And moon on hills, clouded and banked in gray;
Silence of water, where neither star nor moon
On dancing wavelets in silver luster play –
Or storms at eventide, without rift of sky;
Or fields upturned, where failing harvests die;
Or ships gone down, in pebbly shallows led-
These are life without love, when hearts are dead.
Oh love! oh, deathless love! oh, love beyond the grave!
Live you where flowers smile through the enshrouding sod;
Comes there from pulse-less breast, to death a slave,
A language of light and joy and peace and God!
I greet you, budding rose, in faith’s dear sunshine grown,
And hear in thee a voice that speaks to soul alone,
Saying, “I love thee, heart of my heart; bear on, mine own,
Till love hath joined us twain, up there, as one!”
Uhmm.. . yeah – I think she really loved her husband. I love the beautiful imagery but overall I think this is a very sad poem – or perhaps – bittersweet is a better way to describe it. Or hope-filled in the knowledge that they would be “joined us twain, up there as one” but even that rings of sadness.
On lighter note – in honor of March – a poem published in the New Castle News on March 29, 1969, written by Nicholas V. George, my husband’s great uncle. Nick immigrated from Italy in 1904 when he was 8 years old. He began working in New Castle PA at a young age, leaving school after 6th grade, but as his daughter wrote in a recent email
You would have loved my father … everyone did … I always say that he only went thru sixth grade but was the smartest man I ever knew … taught me everything I know … he was a great role model … taught me about life thru his actions … was so proud of me that I was an A+ student, which made me try that much harder …
My husband didn’t know much about his Italian side of the family until 2013 when a DNA test led us to a cousin in New Castle, PA and the rest – as they say – is history – FAMILY HISTORY – the best kind. Here’s a poem from great uncle Nick.