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Hood’s Winks – Poetry

By Ralph Hood

These words by Strickland Gillilan from “The Reading Mother” capture one of my fondest childhood memories…

“Richer than I you can never be – I had a Mother who read to me.”

My mother read to me before I could read to myself. One of my favorite poems came from Robert Louis Stevenson’s “A Child’s Garden of Verses” …

“How do you like to go up in a swing

Up in the air so blue?

Oh, I do think it the pleasantest thing

Ever a child can do!”

Daddy also liked poetry and recited verses—out loud. One of his favorites was “The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere” by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow…

“Listen my children and you shall hear

Of the midnight ride of Paul Revere,

On the eighteenth of April, in Seventy-five;

Hardly a man is now alive

Who remembers that famous day and year.”

He loved to recite a less serious poem called “Casey at the Bat”, by Ernest LawrenceThayer, which extols Casey’s baseball abilities for the Mudville team. The score was tied with only one more person to bat, Casey himself…

“Oh, somewhere in this favoured land the sun is shining bright,

The band is playing somewhere, and somewhere hearts are light;

And somewhere men are laughing, and somewhere children shout,

But there is no joy in Mudville—mighty Casey has struck out.”

In high school and college I was introduced to other poetry, such as Rudyard Kipling’s poem about the water boy, “Gunga Din”, when Kipling was serving in India for the Queen of England…

“Though I’ve belted you and flayed you,

By the livin’ Gawd that made you,

You’re a better man than I am, Gunga Din!”

The following excerpt comes from Sidney Lanier’s great poem “The Marshes of Glynn”…

“And I would I could know what swimmeth below when the tide comes in

On the length and the breadth of the marvellous marshes of Glynn.”

Lanier also wrote “The Song of the Chattahoochee”…

“Out of the hills of Habersham

Down the valleys of Hall

I hurry amain to reach the plain

Run the rapid and leap the fall”

Both of my parents, I believe, would be dumfounded to learn that I remember each of the verses cited above. Poetry at its best is a wonderful, fascinating force, and how could anyone in Georgia ever forget Sidney Lanier’s Marshes of Glynn?

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