Stately, kindly, lordly friend,
Here to sit by me, and turn
Glorious eyes that smile and burn,
Golden eyes, love’s lustrous meed,
On the golden page I read.
All your wondrous wealth of hair,
Dark and fair,
Silken-shaggy, soft and bright
As the clouds and beams of night,
Pays my reverent hand’s caress
Back with friendlier gentleness.
Had I but lived a hundred years ago
I might have gone, as I have gone this year,
By Warmwell Cross on to a Cove I know,
And Time have placed his finger on me there:
“You see that man?” – I might have looked, and said,
“O yes: I see him. One that boat has brought
Which dropped down Channel round Saint Alban’s Head.
So commonplace a youth calls not my thought.”
“You see that man?” – “Why yes; I told you; yes:
Of an idling town-sort; thin; hair brown in hue;
And as the evening light scants less and less
He looks up at a star, as many do.”
“You see that man?” – “Nay, leave me!” then I plead,
“I have fifteen miles to vamp across the lea,
And it grows dark, and I am weary-kneed:
I have said the third time; yes, that man I see!”
“Good. That man goes to Rome – to death, despair;
And no one notes him now but you and I:
A hundred years, and the world will follow him there,
And bend with reverence where his ashes lie.”
Rhyme is honored to publish an interview with Amy Foreman, one of the best contemporary poets.
What was your relationship with poetry before you started writing it?
I have always loved reading literature, including poetry, so, even though my BA was in Music and Theology, I got my MA in English Language and Literature. Poetry, especially the rhyming poetry of such greats as John Milton, George Herbert, John Donne, Emily Dickinson, Robert Frost, and, of course, William Shakespeare, always appealed to me. I especially enjoyed formalistic criticism, in which we look at the poem’s structure, and how that adds to the meaning.
What prompted you to start writing poetry?
Our family moved to Arizona in 2014, and, in our new community, there was a group called “Writers on the River” which met and publicly read personal works of poetry, short stories, or essays. I decided to have our seven children try their hands at poetry (for home school credit!) – and it looked so fun that I thought I would try it as well. That first poem I wrote, “Jesse’s Hands”, was well-received by the “Writers on the River” crowd as well as by my husband Jesse, for whom it was written… so I kept at it!
The inspiration for this poem is the miracle of our seven beloved children, gifts from God, each one. It has been my greatest earthly privilege to be their mother, to walk with them from birth to adulthood, and to partake in their joys and sorrows, their dreams and achievements, their fears and ultimately, their faith.
“The sum is greater than its parts,” or so the saying goes.
And now the two of us can see the proof as each one grows,
Distinct but similar in code, the perfect mix and match
Of you and me but with a little extra in each batch.
You gave your chromosomes, all twenty-three, and I gave mine:
That nose like yours, those eyes like mine, his humor, her hairline.
The two became one, yes it’s true, that one plus one is one,
But each of us gave more than us to daughter and to son.
Gently blow and stir the fire,
Lay the mutton down to roast,
Dress it nicely I desire,
In the dripping put a toast,
That I hunger may remove:
Mutton is the meat I love.
On the dresser see it lie,
Oh! the charming white and red!
Finer meat ne’er met my eye,
On the sweetest grass it fed:
Let the jack go swiftly round,
Let me have it nicely browned.
On the table spread the cloth,
Let the knives be sharp and clean:
Pickles get and salad both,
Let them each be fresh and green:
With small beer, good ale, and wine,
O ye gods! how I shall dine.
Amidst the days of pleasant mirth,
That throw their halo round our earth;
Amidst the tender thoughts that rise
To call bright tears to happy eyes;
Amidst the silken words that move
To syllable the names we love;
There glides no day of gentle bliss
More soothing to the heart than this!