Thursday, August 1, 2013

Lieutenant Roseanne Schrage, RN: A Tribute

    A lifetime ago, it seems, Nurse Schrage from Shaker Heights, Ohio, tended a young, scared, homesick sailor hospitalized for a blood clot in his leg. During that three week stay, Nurse Schrage tended not only his physical needs but his psychological needs as well by gifting him with an anthology of Immortal Poems of the English Language after he had read every magazine in the hospital ward and became restless.

    That very anthology is here now on the table beside me. Perhaps she knew how outlook-altering poetry can be. Poetry was described by Wordsworth as being “…the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings: it takes its origin from emotion recollected in tranquility.”

    That very sailor, me, home from the sea many years ago has had a lifetime of love for the poetic word. That anthology, yellowed and fragile from age, has been in my collection ever since and it has provided answers many times to questions about a particular poet or a particular phrase and even as recently as last week found use to reference a powerful thought parallel to another thought expressed on FaceBook.

    The anthology I have was copyrighted in 1952 and a poem attributed then to an anonymous writer has since been attributed to John Wilbye (b.1574 - d.1638).

                Love not me for comely grace,
                For my pleasing eye or face;
                Nor for any outward part,
                No, nor for my constant heart:
                For those may fail or turn to ill,
                   So thou and I shall sever.
                Keep therefore a true woman's eye,
                And love me still, but know not why;
                So hast thou the same reason still
                   To doat upon me ever.

    In my book, the poem immediately before the above one is still without a known author but remains one of the more powerful collections of words of a yearning soul in despair.

                O western wind, when wilt thou blow,
                That the small rain down can rain?
                Christ, if my love were in my arms,
                And I in my bed again!

    It’s seems magical the way poetic rearrangement of words can add synergy to ordinary words. It’s almost linguistic origami. Another magical thing about poetry is its flexibility — it can be sad or joyous or reflective or even humorous.

                Sir, I admit your general rule,
                That every poet is a fool:
                But you yourself may serve to show it,
                That every fool is not a poet.
                                        —  Matthew Prior

A poetry anthology is a field of delight which can be harvested all year around.
Thank you, Nurse Schrage

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