Famous Women: Sacred and Profane (Part 7)

by Glen Levin Swiggett

The University Press of Sewanee, Tennessee



The Fruitful End

Some men may not desire, when old, to know
Of things that gave them pleasure when a boy,
Nor care for what at middle age gave joy;
Yet all must hope the closing years will go
As one a river, deep and wide, sees flow
Towards the unknown sea; and have a buoy
The guidance of our Lord, with rich convoy
Of thoughts and deeds from seeds they sought to sow.

'Tis not beginning but the fruitful end
Of life that counts in a democracy,
Where one, through choice, environment can mend,
And try, despite untoward destiny,
To find the higher way whereon attend
Truth, beauty, knowledge and morality.

The One to Whom Fame Never Came

These lines are proudly penned in memory
Of women who lived out their lives unknown,
Yet great influence had upon their own
Time through some member of their family.
To them, all are indebted gratefully
As to their mothers for attentions shown
In childhood or in manhood later grown,
That helped them follow best their destiny.

'Tis not the woman of the year who may
Have something done worthwhile, that I now praise,
But nameless women who since time began
Fulfilled their mission in the highest way
That God provided and such sons did raise
As home and country ask of every man.

To Dare Is to Defy

Though man was in God's image made, 'tis vain
For him to think that he can catch a star,
Or living pass beyond the earth-bound bar
Set for him at Creation, on whose plane
He must, for good or ill reward, remain,
For even Phaëton did scorch and scar
Both heaven and earth when from his father's car,
On falling out, he lost the sun-steeds' rein.

'Tis mad for man to think that he can fly,
However clever his machines may be,
To stellar galaxies in outer space,
Or even planets in our solar sky,
Whose course, divinely set in orderly
Control of laws, our own cannot embrace.

Christmas 1959

When "Unto us a child is born," he cried,
Who would his people save from misery,
Confronting presently captivity,
The prophet meant God's Son would come to bide
With them and save from sins for which He died,
That they might live again, upon the Tree.
May we forever hold in memory
That He for us also was crucified!

And let us, too, rejoice that Christ is born
Again for us this Day, and pray we fail
Him not, when we by passion, grief, are torn,
Remembering He died that Love prevail!
Come, let us all, therefore, this Christmas morn
Christ Jesus, Saviour and Redeemer, hail!


How often, meditating, does the mind
Slide back into the distant past where lay
The hidden springs to action that today
Involve, entangling sometimes, every kind
Of deed and thought and even dreams that find,
In manner most mysterious, their way
Into our lives and often hearts dismay
With omens strange and portents undefined.

Then swiftly on the heels of such dark hour
Comes, interrupting, hope's dark-breaking beam,
To shatter and recover all the joy
That one through gracious living has the power
To summon still from meadow, woods and stream
Where happily he roamed once as a boy.

Purdue University

Set near the stream whereof our poets sing,
Stands great Purdue, where students are well trained
To skills that have for State and Nation gained
Security and strength, encouraging
Experiments along those lines that bring
Prosperity the country has attained
With its establishment and since maintained,
Due to the power in Purdue's promising.

Purdue has grown beyond the dream of those
Who fashioned at the turn of century
Fine-spirited, though rough-hewn, lads who came
So ill-prepared to lead, yet who arose
Sometimes through those who shaped their destiny
To posts that gave them and their school high fame.*

*In memory of that fine group of fellow-teachers with whom the writer was most pleasantly associated at Purdue 1895-1900. Read at the Washington Purdue Dinner, April 14, 1960.

Easter Prayer

I pray that I can write this night a song
That will at least some lead on Easter Day
To come unto their Lord and, kneeling, pray
For guidance and the power to right some wrong
They may have done to one who, seemingly, so long
Has held this hurt in heart, yet would today
So gladly it forget, if they would say
The word for which this former friend does long.

Some voice seems urging people everywhere
To form a wider world society.
Such cannot be, howe'er, as long as man
Will unforgivingly not even care
To have for friend a fancied enemy,
And live according to his Master's plan.*

*Washington, Easter Eve, April 16, 1960.