When I Believe That Life Can Never Hold….

Every once in a great while, I hear a former student say he or she is trying to “channel” a favorite teacher, usually when the days are a chore to get through or a major challenge to professional identity or some other sorrow is afoot. I do the same. I had a favorite teacher too. Occasionally I try to channel Dr. Jenny Lind Porter, my literature professor at Huston-Tillotson College (now Huston-Tillotson University) back in the day. She wrote a volume of poetry called “The Lantern of Diogenes and Other Poems” [1]. Today the selection is:

When I Believe That Life Can Never Hold….

When I believe that life can never hold

That which is longed for, when I’m growing old,

Then once again I’ll seek that dreaming bow’r,

Lost from the wheel of life, the twilight hour,

Stand in the deepening shadows, as before,

Look to my valley, where the canyon floor

Lies dark with the purple of the mountains.

Soft comes the faint splashing of the fountains:

Peace is my master. There’s my gnarled oak,

Round which I ran on Mercury’s feet and spoke

To all of nature’s children. No one heard

Except a bright-eyed, solitary bird.

O Cardinal, can’st thou recall to me

That song, echoed in childhood’s ecstasy?

I’ve always been a gunslinger, restless and edgy. I don’t remember songs and bowers, but I prefer to believe they exist. On the other hand, peace is always her master. For many of us, Dr. Porter was and is our bright-eyed, solitary bird, singing the song of faith, not just in ourselves but in whatever lies beyond the sky.

1. Porter, J.L., The Lantern of Diogenes and Other Poems1954, San Antonio: The Naylor Company Book Publishers.