The third day prompt for Poetry Pub’s November Poem a Day Challenge is “Humble.”
In writing this poem, I found myself caught up in a memory and taken along. That is the way of the mind sometimes. In his collection of essays titled, Wayfairing, Alan Jacobs comments on this phenomenon in discussing an essay by Charles Lamb. He first quotes Lamb (below) and goes on to comment.
Charles Lamb writes, “I do not know how, upon a subject which I began with treating half seriously, I should have fallen upon a recital so eminently painful; but this theme of poor relationship is replete with so much matter for tragic as well as comic associations, that it is difficult cult to keep the account distinct without blending.”
[And Alan Jacobs goes on to comment.} “Of all the many virtues of the essay as a form, it seems to be that the most wonderful of them is exhibited here. It is what I have elsewhere called a humble mutability of tone, a willingness to acknowledge and accept the vagaries of the mind, with its habit of following its own pathways in serene disregard of what we would have it do. Lamb may have meant to write a comical bagatelle; his mind, it turned out, contained a store of memories that would not confine themselves to the mood in which he began.”
I think poetry does this sometimes, at least I found this true with this poem.
I am not yet young enough to be humble I do not ask for help when in trouble Or confronted with my weakness. I double down on doing it alone— As if I am the only one. I am old and proud, Not young. Remind me. How is it that we come? By getting from You whatever we ask? Get the seat on Your right or left? Or by keeping back the riff-raff? Because, well, we’re older and Have more important things to do Than help these pushy parents And their needy children who Want blessing. Can one who is now old, again become young? Young enough to be truly humble? To look with jaw-dropped wonder At the bigness of the moon? To think it still follows me Just as I did so many years ago When I watch the fall Ohio moon Race along the tree tops From the jump seat in the back Of the family’s Pontiac, Looking through the window Thinking that it looks like it’s chasing me, Wondering if the moon really does see me And if, like you said, God would bless me? Can I, one who is old, Learn again to come And rest and receive? As one who is young?