It’s an odd thing to speak in the official ceremony of memorials, especially for someone as close as a parent. On the one hand, there’s so much I could say, but much of it is so mundane. On the other hand, the interesting stuff is often not appropriate. Plus, it’s not like one gets all that much practice at it.
In the end, I chose to go with one of my dad’s loves, Kansas poetry. During the time he was building up the web presence of small Kansas towns, he was also building up a sizable collection of Kansas poetry. Every time he’d come across a dusty copy of something, often printed around the turn of the 19th to the 20th century, he’d snag it and put it on the web.
Interestingly, there’s quite a lot of poetry written in Kansas during the late 1800s, early 1900s. Some of it quite good, like the one I chose to read.
The author of this poem is Esther Mary Clark Hill. She is most known for her poem Call of Kansas, which was written while in Long Beach, California. Essentially, the poem says that no matter how pretty the California beaches are, the prairies call her back. I understand that feeling.
Anyway, the poem I chose was this one:
And Your Old Men Shall Dream Dreams
The old men sit by the fire and doze
And dream to their souls’ content.
They were gallant enough in their time, God knows!
But the gold of their youth is spent.
They were rovers, daring and eager then,
In their manhood’s radiant dawn;
They are rovers still for their souls at will
Go venturing on and on.
The length and breadth of the Hebrides,
From the far north fields to the southern seas,
Past the austere Pillars of Hercules,
Venturing on and on.
They stir uneasily in their sleep,
They shuffle their hearth-bound feet;
While the visions last they must hold them fast
For the dream is sweet, is sweet!
The old wives sit by the fire and knit
And dream of their girlhoods gone;
But the souls of the old men seek the lands
They never have trod upon.
For the languid beauty of tropic shores,
Through the shrouding mists of the far Azores,
Past the frozen cliffs that are Labrador’s,
Venturing on and on.
We, too, shall sit by the fire some day,
When our blood runs chill and thin;
And our once swift feet are no longer fleet
For wandering out and in.
We, too, shall sit where the old wives knit
And the old men doze and yawn,
As bent and gray and as spent as they
When the flower of our youth is gone.
We shall nod and dream as the years drift past,
Till we come to the one great dream, the last,
And then, with our hands on our hearts locked fast,
Go venturing farther on.