To live as gently as I can;
To be, no matter where, a man;
To take what comes of good or ill
And cling to faith and honor still;
To do my best, and let that stand
The record of my brain and hand;
And then, should failure come to me,
Still work and hope for victory.
Eating The Cookies
by Jane Kenyon
The cousin from Maine, knowing
about her diverticulitis, let out the nuts,
so the cookies weren’t entirely to my taste,
but they were good enough; yes, good enough.
Each time I emptied a drawer or shelf
I permitted myself to eat one.
I cleared the closet of silk caftans
that slipped easily from clattering hangers,
and from the bureau I took her nightgowns
and sweaters, financial documents
neatly cinctured in long gray envelopes,
and the hairnets and peppermints she’d tucked among
Lucite frames abounding with great-grandchildren,
solemn in their Christmas finery.
Finally the drawers were empty,
the bags full, and the largest cookie,
which I had saved for last, lay
solitary in the tin with a nimbus
of crumbs around it. There would be no more
parcels from Portland. I took it up
and sniffed it, and before eating it,
pressed it against my forehead, because
it seemed like the next thing to do.
Edgar Guest was never a candidate for serious literary awards, but his popularity during his lifetime is largely forgotten, though quotes from his more than 11,000 published poems still make their way into our cultural milieu. Guest began his career as a copy boy at the Detroit Free Press and went on to be a reporter and regular columnist. At his height of popularity he was published weekly in more than 300 papers nationwide and in the 1940’s had his own radio show, sponsored by Land O’ Lakes creamery. Guest’s poems are frequently inspirational, rhyming, optimistic and steeped in a light religious sauce. There isn’t much heavy lifting required to understand Guest’s poetry. In our 24/7 news cycle, I think it would it be refreshing to see newspapers publish poetry again. The New Yorker magazine continues to include poetry in every issue, I would love it if more publications followed suit.
This time of year I generally dig out the box that has some of my favorite holiday children’s books and reread a few from my children’s childhood or my own. Mr. Willowby’s Christmas Tree remains one of my favorites as a fun rhymed children’s book about the magic of Christmas. Do you have holiday children’s books that you re-read every year? I would love to hear from you, please share your favorites.
At Christmas (Excerpt)
By Edgar Guest
Man is ever in a struggle
and he’s oft misunderstood;
There are days the worst that’s in him
is the master of the good,
But at Christmas kindness rules him
and he puts himself aside
And his petty hates are vanquished
and his heart is opened wide.
Oh, I don’t know how to say it,
but somehow it seems to me
That at Christmas man is almost
what God sent him here to be.