Though the pages are yellowed and the cover time-worn, my copy of The Best Loved Poems of the American People is a favorite possession. My grandmother wrote her name in this book many, many years ago. In a few places within the pages, she has jotted a scripture reference near a poem that resonated with her. My mother owned a copy as well, and all the poems within are familiar to me, like childhood friends. There are story poems, such as Paul Revere's Ride and Casey at the Bat, or Edgar Allen Poe's The Raven. And a favorite, which I may share here one day, called A Cry from the Canadian Hills.
I took the book to the garden to read this evening, and when I got up to look at the lipstick pink lilies at the other edge of the garden, Arwen made herself comfortable in my chair! Before I got up, I found the following poem which is short, straight-forward, and as meaningful today as it was when written in the 1800s.
Oh, the comfort - the inexpressible comfort of feeling safe with a person,
Having neither to weigh thoughts,
Nor measure words - but pouring them
All right out - just as they are -
Chaff and grain together -
Certain that a faithful hand will
Take and sift them -
Keep what is worth keeping -
And with the breath of kindness
Blow the rest away.
by Dinah Maria Mulock Craik
photos by Aisling, June 28, 2007