Guys Reciting Poems

Last Valentines Day I wrote about Guys Holding Babies.  My idea was to honor the memory of my father who died on this day in 1987 and honor my husband and sons because they are guys I love. 

Does it surprise you to know that poetry used to be clearly in the center of masculine interests?  Think of the epic poems and their authors: Homer, Virgil, Milton, some anonymous guys, and G.K. Chesterton.  We’ve been reading through the The Top 500 Poems in our morning routine; only 27 of the 500 poems in this collection were written by a woman.  Don’t forget the Biblical poets who happened to be men: Moses, David, Solomon, Hezekiah, Jonah.  And never forget the Song of Simeon, those potent words of an old man, “Lord, now lettest Thou Thy servant depart in peace.”    

My father loved poetry.  My father loved words.  He had a phenomenal mind; he could both recognize the bits of poetry and poetical references that blow past most of us and recite entire poems. Occasionally he would corner one of us kids with an imperious “Listen to this” and read a poem which took his fancy.  I wish now that I had paid more: more time, more attention, more interest, more respect.  Who were his favorite poets?  I’m not sure, but I’d guess William Cowper, John Oxenham, Joe Bailey and Luci Shaw.  Often a stoic in demeanor, the reading of a poem or article could break down my father’s reserve.  I can still hear his voice choked while reading from Joe Bailey’s A View from a Hearst.

The poetry of my husband’s childhood was the poetry of motion: dodging tackles, arcing basketballs, change up pitches.  However, he grew up with a rich liturgy and had weekly infusions of the Nicene Creed, the Lord’s Prayer and Luther’s hymns.  He brings raw honesty to poetry.  He will readily say, “I don’t get it.”  But he will also show the impact of poems he does get.  Curt was inspired by George Grant’s recitation of Alfred’s War Song and can still recite it years after he committed it to memory.

When the enemy comes in a’roaring like a flood,
Coveting the kingdom and hungering for blood,
The Lord will raise a standard up and lead His people on,
The Lord of Hosts will go before defeating every foe; defeating every foe.

For the Lord is our defense, Jesu defend us,
For the Lord is our defense, Jesu defend.

While not exactly poetry, Curt also has a keen ability to take quotes from literature and insert them into our daily life.  He does the best “Hey, Boo!” with impeccable intonation ( you need to know To Kill a Mockingbird to appreciate it) although never on command; when I least expect it, he’ll offer, “for you, a thousand times over”.  Lately, he mutters Brilliant. which is a quote from a mediocre movie; the quote makes us laugh because we were stupid enough to watch the whole thing.  

Collin, for better or for worse, has inherited my father’s genetic makeup.  He has an ear for words.  His ability to capture the cadences of the stuff he reads is remarkable. As a young boy he would quote Hiawatha while playing on the rug.  We still laugh at his youthful description of ants on the back deck who, “heedless of their life, plunged off the precipice.” Two well-loved characters, Jeeves, the gentleman’s gentleman, and Jan Karon’s Father Tim, both have a store of poetry in their minds; their quotes flow quite naturally into their conversations. Collin’s current favorite quote (from P. G. Wodehouse) surfaces whenever I mention the great Scottish poet Robert Burns.

“Jeeves, expunge the poet Burns from your mind.”
“I have already done so, sir.”

Real guys know the power of poetry. 

Real guys love words. 

Really great guys keep learning. 

I’m thankful for the real guys in my life.


6 thoughts on “Guys Reciting Poems

  1. Amen,I got into all kinds of trouble on my blog when I mentioned my favorite Scottish poet! Burns, without a doubt.My 2nd son Nicholas used to beg me to read Hiawatha over and over again and he is my poetry lover.  All my boys like poetry in one form or another and quote it frequently but Nicholas really has that connection.My 3rd son thanked me the other day for teaching him lots of poems. He said that even if he never liked poetry himself which he does sometimes, it was a great way to impress smart girls :)It is a terrible, terrible shame that poetry has been relegated to the feminine and romantic. I can hardly imagine raising sons, manly sons, without it.

  2. What a blessing to have a real man with poetry in his heart. My valentine is also a real man in that sense. It amazes me. Looking at the poetry in the Word, it seems that real men are made in the image of the God of the poetic heart. I loved this. Thanks. M in SC with hearts to you.

  3. Beautiful post and tribute to your guys. I’ll never forget my second date with my husband — he read poetry to me as we drank jasmine tea! As we fell in love, he wrote poems for me — the type that don’t rhyme but capture images and convey without many words so much to the heart, from the heart. We are blessed truly with the loves the Lord has given. In Him, Laurie

  4. I’m sorry for being so shallow, but I got greater enjoyment reading your comments about Collin’s comments than anything else on this post!!! Oh, my goodness, just that he would remember the Jeeves quote leaves me rolling on the floor laughing!! What a funny, funny boy you have!

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