I want to give a shout out today for all the Dads out there. I did not know my father. My mother left him when I was six months old for what many would consider dereliction of duty. He just wouldn’t work and take care of the family. So my mother got the hell out of Dodge and never looked back.
In all the years after that, not once did he make an effort to contact me. I heard from my older brothers that my mother had refused to let him see me. But even as an adult, he never gave the old college try. And I can’t see my mother refusing him from seeing me.
So fathers, Dads, have always been a mystery to me. But I think they are mysteries to those who have Dads.
Anyway I have two poems and two songs here that celebrate children’s relationships with their fathers. The first is Robert Hayden’s “Those Winter Sundays”.
The second is Seamus Heaney’s “Digging”:
Here is Dougie Maclean’s “Scythe Song“:
And finally Cat Stevens’ “Father and Son”:
Happy Father’s Day, y’all.
My, I do love the poem, For I will consider my Cat Jeoffry. This is from an excerpt from an excerpt of a much longer poem by the eighteenth century English poet Christopher Smart:
For I will consider my Cat Jeoffry.
For he is the servant of the Living God, duly and daily serving him.
For at the first glance of the glory of God in the East he worships in his way.
For is this done by wreathing his body seven times round with elegant quickness.
For then he leaps up to catch the musk, which is the blessing of God upon his prayer.
For he rolls upon prank to work it in.
For having done duty and received blessing he begins to consider himself.
For this he performs in ten degrees.
For first he looks upon his forepaws to see if they are clean.
For secondly he kicks up behind to clear away there.
For thirdly he works it upon stretch with the forepaws extended.
For fourthly he sharpens his paws by wood.
For fifthly he washes himself.
For sixthly he rolls upon wash.
For seventhly he fleas himself, that he may not be interrupted upon the beat.
For eighthly he rubs himself against a post.
For ninthly he looks up for his instructions.
For tenthly he goes in quest of food.
For having considered God and himself he will consider his neighbor.
For if he meets another cat he will kiss her in kindness.
For when he takes his prey he plays with it to give it a chance.
For one mouse in seven escapes by his dallying.
For when his day’s work is done his business more properly begins.
For he keeps the Lord’s watch in the night against the adversary.
For he counteracts the powers of darkness by his electrical skin and glaring eyes.
For he counteracts the Devil, who is death, by brisking about the life.
For in his morning orisons he loves the sun and the sun loves him.
For he is of the tribe of Tiger.
Once a week on Friday, Uncle Bardie celebrates the creativity in others by shining a Spotlight on a movie, a song or a creator. This week’s Spotlight is the band Quoting Napoleon singing their composition “Amherst“:
This song is a beautiful tribute to the great American poet Emily Dickinson.
Scraps of Emily everywhere
no single room unattended
nor corner of the private worlds
hidden in New England shadow
unstudied by the thorough eye
of that reclusive brilliance
who gave Amherst a name.
Kindness is a daisy I thank heaven for.
Art is an act of generosity parting the darkness and letting the light in.
Music is a gift of love from one to another.
May the songs forever be sung.
Poetry is a never ending conversation between friends.
Dance is an act of grace from the heart, compassion an open palm.
Love is an oak, its roots sunk deep into the earth.
If each human being be a masterpiece made in the image of the Creator,
when the song of another is violently shortened by a fellow traveller,
blasphemy is done.
The world is blue and green, brown and red with a sun in the sky.
With a moon to share and rainbows after the rain,
we are all so blessed.
There’s an oak in my back yard and a cat on my porch.
The birds are chirping and butterflies dancing.
Isn’t it all so grand?
Mary Chapin Carpenter, “The Age of Miracles”.
Once a week on Friday, Uncle Bardie celebrates the creativity in others by shining a Spotlight on a movie, a song or a creator. In honor of St. Patrick’s Day tomorrow, this week’s Spotlight Creator is the great Irish poet, Seamus Heaney:
Upon his death
Making Sense of a Life
Seamus Heaney was our Irish poet. Just as Derek Walcott was our Caribbean poet. He sang songs so dug into the Irish soil that they were universal. He sang with a poet’s voice that was as beautiful as Everest is tall. He threw out the net of his words in such a way that they caught the attention of all us fishes.
We thought we would have him forever. Too often we fool ourselves into believing an artist, a poet, will continue among us. They will continue to give more and more of the poetry pouring out of him. It’s such an illusion.
Our bubble has burst. Seamus Heaney’s voice has been lifted from among us and risen to join his brothers and sisters in the heavens: Homer, Sappho, Chaucer, Shakespeare, Wordsworth, Whitman, Dickinson, Yeats, Frost, Eliot, Bishop, Hughes and the Others. And I am sure he is finding new ways to sing Hallelujah.
But we can be thankful for the time we had with him and the glorious poetry he gave us. One of his lines can best sum up the motto for any artist. I know it does for me. “Walk on air against your better judgement”, from one of his poems, “The Gravel Walks”. It’s the epitaph on his gravestone.
Thank you, Seamus.