The glory, sorrow and unquestionable beauty of life are encapsulated in Catherine Lawton’s Remembering Softly. Lawton’s prose gently captures, like coaxing a firefly into the palm, the indescribable joy of simply seeing nature and the world in action. Sure, there are vile things out there, but there are precious things which overcome them and are worth living to witness. When misfortune passes, the memories of goodness will be everlasting.
So begins a just-published review of my poetry collection, Remembering Softly: A Life In Poems, reviewed by Realistic Poetry International. They seem to have “caught” and understood my poems. The review continues:
Remembering Softly is a personal and inspirational collection with Christian themes. The poems span several years of Lawton’s writing and experiences and are richly emotional. Reading it conjures a feeling of great creation, like seeing the kaleidoscopic glimmer of sunbeams through the fire reds of autumn woods, or perhaps one of those pure winter days where the sky is an unblemished white like being just beneath the floor of heaven.
“Shadows” stood out to me, as did “Glory” and “A Walk at Dusk” as strong points of the compilation. “A Walk at Dusk” in particular is a thought-provoking and fearless piece….
Remembering Softly is truly a beautiful book, and it’s hard to find anything to dislike. If I absolutely had to choose something, some of the personal poems addressed to certain people may not be as resonant to a new reader, though it’s obvious that they were written out of love. The illustrations are a charming touch, and fit well with the poems.
I would recommend Lawton’s collection wholeheartedly, with a 5 out of 5 stars.
My thanks to Realistic Poetry for their reading, evaluation, and recommendation of my first volume of poetry. You can read their entire review HERE.
We are a nation of immigrants and descendants of immigrants.
Today, on the 4th of July, the passionate words of the poem below express the heart of a woman who grew up on a “far-flung” island of Scotland and immigrated to America as an adult, with her husband and young family. Author and poet, Alice Scott-Ferguson, writes:
“In a land of deep class divides, my parents were not from the nobility, elite or formally educated. They were people of the land and sea in the farthest reaches of the United Kingdom, the Shetland Islands, where the sun never sets in summer and the aurora borealis dances in the long, dark winter skies.”*
Many of my ancestors also came from Scotland (and Ireland)—but way back during Colonial times of the 1600s. They crossed the Atlantic to the New World for economic opportunity (survival?) and for religious and personal liberty. They settled in and around Virginia and Kentucky, and each generation moved steadily across the expanding frontier, seeking new beginnings and opportunities, until they reached the Pacific Ocean. And now some of us have moved back toward the east. My ancestors include farmers, preachers, teachers, homesteaders, soldiers, and transient laborers. Many generations of blood, sweat, and tears have soaked into this land from shore to shore.
We are America. “This Land is My Land …” we have sung with gusto. Does our subjectivity make it hard—even impossible—for us to take an objective look at our country, our land, our nation? Have we become full of “hubris,” as Alice has penned (below)?
I think the voices of immigrants, who continue to choose to come to “America the Beautiful” to seek life and opportunity and freedom, are voices we need to hear and heed, if we want to “trade our hubris for humility,” as Alice Scott-Ferguson expresses in this poem:
America the Beautiful*
Pilgrim from a more restricted place to America, the parent of my progression land of my adoption.
Country of limitless opportunity for me and my progeny, ever grateful sometimes sad land divided in agony in greed in need of a re-birth of soul into a vibrant whole not of uniformity but of unity in our differences in our sameness with the world though still we hold that glorious space of being a framework of freedom.
Wide and wonderful land open your arms of welcome let us love one another let us not fear one another let us harness the love and discover fire again.
Let us trade our hubris for humility, thee and me.
~Alice Scott Ferguson
*(excerpted from Alice’s forthcoming book of poetry, Pausing in the Passing Places.)
We look down on Agate Beach before descending the steep, winding trail at Patrick’s Point in Northern California.
On the pebbly-sand beach as the fog clears and tide ebbs.
Larry searches for agates in the sand.
One of my happy places, finding semi-precious, polished-by-the-waves agates glowing in the sand.
See any agates among these pebbles?
Some agates found through the years and polished in a rock tumbler.
Looking for agates on the beach is what it’s like for me, as a poet, to dig into my heart and come up with poems shaped by experiences and observations.
And this is what it’s like for me as a publisher to discover stand-out poets and their glowing poetry to share with our readers. So far, we have searched for, found, and polished a few collections of gems, which you can discover at Agates Poetry.
—Written by one of my granddaughters (age 10 or 11 at the time) during an Easter Sunday church service as we celebrated Christ’s resurrection. I found this joyful verse written on the back of a bulletin I brought home in my purse. She gave me permission to share it but asked to remain anonymous. This child’s spontaneous expression of faith inspires me anew to praise the One who is risen indeed!
An unseasonably warm winter day (here in Colorado) yesterday prompted my husband and me to go out birding. We took our nature-loving granddaughter with us. We drove toward the mountains west of us, into a little canyon formed by a ridge along which a small creek flows, where an American Woodcock has been spotted (a common bird in some states but rare in Colorado).
Our granddaughter suddenly exclaimed, “There’s a rainbow cloud. I love rainbow clouds.”
I looked out the car window, and sure enough, all the colors of the rainbow were displayed in this cloud against a blue sky. I’ve never seen such a cloud in my life. Sometimes at dusk the Colorado sky is rimmed all around with clouds glowing orange and pink. This was about 2:45 p.m., though—not even close to sunset. The day was sunny, warm (for February), and dry. Yet this one, lone cloud contained a rainbow. We quickly and excitedly took pictures with our phones.
The three of us shared a moment of awe and wonder.
The past week I had been reading an old book by the Scottish writer and minister, George MacDonald, The Hope of the Gospel. In it, he quoted the poem by William Wordsworth that begins,
Our birth is but a sleep and a forgetting; The soul that rises with us, our life’s star, Hath had elsewhere its setting, And cometh from afar: Not in entire forgetfulness, And not in utter nakedness, But trailing clouds of glory do we come From God, who is our home…
Then MacDonald quoted Henry Vaughn’s poem:
Happy those early days, when I Shined in my angel-infancy! Before I understood this place…. And looking back—at that short space— Could see a glimpse of His bright face; When on some gilded cloud, or flower My gazing soul would dwell an hour And in those weaker glories spy Some shadows of eternity; From God, who is our home
That sense of wonder that is part of childhood, that makes children spiritually sensitive, and that perhaps is a trailing cloud of the glory from which we each came when God created us a living soul, born into this world … I want to nurture this sense of wonder and awe as I become older. I want to see the rainbow clouds when they appear so briefly in the sky. I want to see and wonder at a little bird that surprisingly shows up in cold Colorado in February to forage along a tiny, protected, flowing stream full of watercress and fallen cottonwood leaves before flying on to its faraway spring destination.
George MacDonald wrote, “To cease to wonder is to fall plumb-down from the childlike to the commonplace—the most undivine of all moods intellectual. Our nature can never be at home among things that are not wonderful to us.”
Today, Valentine’s falls on Ash Wednesday—the beginning of Lent and, in many churches, the annual 40-day season of introspection and self-examination that leads to confession, repentance, and the spiritual freedom needed to receive the joy of Easter.
At first, though, it seems ironic that a Valentine’s Day of flowers and candy coincides with a time typically thought of as giving up something—such as flowers and candy! But then, the colliding and coinciding can help us to see what they have in common with each other and this blog: love.
Praise God our Father!
Blessings on our Mother Earth.
We are their love child.
Love of the beloved needs expression! The highest examples of these come in the Bible, the trek toward Easter, and the love expressed in poetry. You’ve undoubtedly read love poems—from greeting card verse on a Valentine to the 23rd Psalm to the poetic lines of a romantic sonnet. [You may have] tried your hand at writing a love poem too.
But “love” has many faces.
Take, for example, this prose poem. I’ll explain it once you’ve had a chance to experience it.
(after reading Attila Jozsef)
Attila the Hungarian poet, I really love you. Please
believe me before you throw yourself beneath that
train. The fright of flying freight crushes my reading
of your prose poems—poems poised with insight
and odd juxtaposition. I try to rescue the paragraphs
you pose from extermination, reeling as I read. What
can I do but pet The Dog you left behind, ragged and
muddy, ready to avenge your wounds and scavenge
the pieces of God you hid in my upper berth on this
Ever since childhood, I’ve “loved” poetry, which led to my reading the best works of classical and contemporary poets as evidenced in the above poem….. Once my tastes in poetry became more eclectic … I discovered poets from all over the world, each of whom brought experiences beyond my own.
Attila Jozsef of Hungary was one such poet, with his thought-provoking, deliciously-worded, introspective poems (suitable for Lent) such as “The Dog.” But when I learned he’d committed suicide by throwing himself in front of a train, that sad news stunned me into writing a poem pleading for life and poetry and, perhaps, for his forgiveness of those of us who have led easier lives.
Contemplation of our ease versus dis-ease, our lives versus death, our love versus bigotry, bias, boredom, and indifference gives us the stuff of which poetry and Lent are made. But the greatest of these is God’s Word of love.
If God didn’t love you, no eyes, no ears
would weave into your gut, no
heart would arch into the inner soles
of your shoes, showing you where to go.
If God didn’t trust you, there would be
no joy to oil your neighbors, no love to
cover the sins of your enemies, no Good
News to paper the walls of your head.