It took a year but I have my grandfather’s poetry book in pdf format. If you would like to print it out, click here and download the file links on the page.
I don’t know when he began writing poetry but the 1st edition of his booklet was printed January 1946. The 2nd was printed in June 1958 and the 3rd, nine years after his death, in 1974. It is the 3rd one that I have scanned. There are some different poems in the first two and I will add those later.
He used poetry in two ways: one as a way to witness for his faith and the other to comment on life around him. The subtitle is “Poems concerning the things of today and poems confirming the Heavenward way” and that pretty much sums them up. If he were alive today, maybe he’d make his observations through Twitter. But I’m glad he chose the medium of rhyme. Again, his own words best describe that. In “The Poet’s ‘Must’”, he writes, “Yet must the poet keep his feet – And beat it down the line; – And make his feet the accent keep – Or lose the swing and rhyme.”
What his poetry also did was to make the writing of poetry a part of life. It wasn’t something rarefied, that “ordinary” people couldn’t dream of doing. His children and grandchildren grew up with his poems and poetry books around. My mother said she’d see him at his desk in his cement shop, with a pencil stub and scrap of paper – working out words and rhyme while they were in his mind.
His children naturally turned to putting their thoughts on paper too. While none of them wrote as prolifically as he did, they too wrote poems of their faith. And they didn’t just stick the final product in the back of a drawer as so many of us do; they had them printed and distributed. They had seen him do it so knew it could be done and there was an audience out there.
Perhaps too it was their church that helped them to know how to print and distribute and that there was an audience out there. A church that always had a good supply of Gospel tracts, telling real life stories of conversion and discussing points of Scripture.
Whether it was the example of their church or my grandfather’s love of language and human observation, writing from life and belief came naturally to his children. They recognized his ability and treasured it. I have a notebook in which my Aunt Ada carefully transcribed in longhand her father’s poems and gave to him as a gift. My mother spent the evening before her wedding transcribing his Christmas song in words and music in preparation for printing. But maybe the greatest gift they gave him was in their own writing. They remembered the grammar that their mother had taught them and kept the “swing and rhyme” that he showed them.