November 18, 2015

...will lead my steps aright

“November is the most disagreeable month in the whole year,” said Margaret, standing at the window one dull afternoon, looking out at the frostbitten garden.  (Louisa May Alcott, Little Women)
View of my backyard this morning from my bedroom window...

Blech.  I think I'll let the picture speak for's definitely the type of morning where I'd rather still be in bed!  But I was able to eventually crawl out from under the warm comforter and face the day, thanks to a nice hot cup of coffee and a cheerful phone conversation with my daughter!  Hearing a loved one's voice is a perfect start to the day--it even makes the cold rain more bearable.  

I was also eager to get up and share this story with you today about my recent visit to my uncle's home in Indiana--I love it when a story goes full circle.

 My grandparents with my Uncle Phil

While we were visiting with my aunt and uncle I was recalling some of my favorite memories of my grandmother, and how I loved listening to her recite a poem that fit the day or mood.  I was so impressed with how many beautiful poems she had memorized and could recite at the drop of a hat.  My uncle laughed and told the story of how he expressed his frustration over his studies one day, confessing to her that he was struggling to memorize all the lines of the poem To a Waterfowl.  My uncle recalled that my grandmother looked at him, smiled, and then recited the whole poem on the spot.  The cool thing uncle was then able to recite the poem to me.  No wonder I love poetry so much! 

 My grandmother with my Uncle Phil and Aunt Freda on their wedding day--I'm sure she had a special poem ready!

But of course the story doesn't end with my uncle's recitation--impressive as that was.  No, in a beautifully serendipitous circle when I returned home and decided to blog about the poems I chose for my thankful banner I took another look at the "u" page, which I had chosen because it had Thanatopsis on it, my grandmother's favorite poem.  But wait...what poem was printed just above Thanatopsis, also penned by William Cullen Bryant??  You guessed it, and here it is for you today.  Sometimes, even in spite of raindrops and gloomy weather, life is just about perfect.

To a Waterfowl

   Whither, ‘midst falling dew,
While glow the heavens with the last steps of day,
Far, through their rosy depths, dost thou pursue
   Thy solitary way?

   Vainly the fowler’s eye
Might mark thy distant flight to do thee wrong,
As, darkly painted on the crimson sky,
   Thy figure floats along.

   Seek’st thou the plashy brink
Of weedy lake, or marge of river wide,
Or where the rocking billows rise and sink
   On the chafed ocean side?

   There is a Power whose care
Teaches thy way along that pathless coast,--
The desert and illimitable air,--
   Lone wandering, but not lost.

   All day thy wings have fanned,
At that far height, the cold, thin atmosphere,
Yet stoop not, weary, to the welcome land,
   Though the dark night is near.

   And soon that toil shall end;
Soon shalt thou find a summer home, and rest,
And scream among thy fellows; reeds shall bend,
   Soon, o’er thy sheltered nest.

   Thou’rt gone, the abyss of heaven
Hath swallowed up thy form; yet, on my heart
Deeply hath sunk the lesson thou hast given,
   And shall not soon depart.

   He who, from zone to zone,
Guides through the boundless sky thy certain flight,
In the long way that I must tread alone,
   Will lead my steps aright.

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