Sunday, October 12, 2008

A telephone conversation

Hello dear readers,

I know, I know, I have only just posted something, and here I am at the post office again. Most unusual. So, as an explanation -

My fabulous grandfather just called me and we had the most wonderful conversation. If you have been hanging around my comment box for a while, you will most likely know that this is my grandfather who sent me his library, who is currently living in Manhattan, and whose mission in life is to teach every single person he meets a poem.

Today I decided to ask him a few questions about my grandma. Although my grandma died several years ago, Grandpa still feels that he is living with her and he talks to her, and about her, very often. He calls her his "girlfriend". So I asked him to try to describe what Grandma was like before I knew her, when she was the mother of three teenagers. He immediately recited the following poem as his answer:

On Being A Woman / By Dorothy Parker

Why is it, when I am in Rome,
I'd give an eye to be at home,
But when on native earth I be,
My soul is sick for Italy?

And why with you, my love, my lord,
Am I spectacularly bored,
Yet do you up and leave me- then
I scream to have you back again?

As Grandpa recited this poem by heart to me, over the telephone, I was already planning to post it because it was just too wonderful not to share around! So then, of course, Grandpa started to recite a second poem. This second poem perfectly reflected what I was hoping to do by posting the first poem. Grandpa is amazing.

Here is the second poem:

The Arrow and the Song / By Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

I shot an arrow into the air,
It fell to earth, I knew not where;
For, so swiftly it flew, the sight
Could not follow it in its flight.

I breathed a song into the air,
It fell to earth, I knew not where;
For who has sight so keen and strong,
That it can follow the flight of song?

Long, long afterward, in an oak
I found the arrow, still unbroke;
And the song, from beginning to end,
I found again in the heart of a friend.


Unknown said...

The second poem by HW Longfellow is one of two poems I memorized as a wee girl of maybe 6 or 7. I love his poetry. But I long for your grandfather's library.

RW said...


And how amazingly wonderful for you to have your grandpa still in your life.

Feeling a little vaklempt!

Anonymous said...

If there's anything better than a grandfather who can recite poetry at will, I dare ANYONE to name it.

(I can't tell you how happy it makes me to think of him in Manhattan, inspiring everyone around him with his love for poetry. I just know he's made many a friend...)

PS-Whenever applicable, I demand stories about your grandfather. I DEMAND THEM.

Sömsmånen said...

What a man! I bet he puts a spell on any lady in Manhattan - and blogland, too. As poets and bards always have.

Anonymous said...

Your Grandpa's words make my heart soar. What a lovely gift.

PS I am waited with bated breath for chapter 3 : )

alice c said...

In my husbands family the gift of languages leaps from generation to generation. He takes it for granted but I, who cannot learn languages, can see it clearly.

It is also clear to me that in your family the gift of poetic insight and storytelling leaps from generation to generation.