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The art of verse

By Staff | Feb 8, 2017

Ralph McDonald’s granddaughter, Jessica Pohlman, created for him as a gift large print copies from an old book of collected poems McDonald’s mother had kept, and by extension he inherited.

“She didn’t even charge me for it,”?McDonald joked.

Members of McDonald’s family showed up with residents, staff and guests at Windsor Manor Monday afternoon to hear McDonald read a selection of poetry.

McDonald struggled to name a favorite poet, but his reading selection included many American and British classics.

“I?had a teacher by the name of White,”?McDonald said. “He would assign us a poem on Monday, and we were to recite it on Friday.”

McDonald said he worked diligently on the memorization.

“The guys who were football players, they didn’t have time for poetry. All I had to do after school was milk the cows and do a few other farm chores,”?McDonald recalled.

Reciting poetry is an art that has fallen out of fashion. Not one other person in attendance could think of a poem to recite.

McDonald’s descendants in attendance, daughter Sally and granddaughters Pohlman and Emily Swalve, said the poems they remember are mostly the ones in Monday’s reading.

McDonald talked about a few different poetic forms, including the quatrain, a four-line poem in which two of the lines rhyme.

Ralph Waldo Emerson’s “Bid Time and Nature Gently Spare”?was one:?

“Spirit, that made those heroes dare

To die, and leave their children free,

Bid Time and Nature gently spare

The shaft we raise to them and thee.”

McDonald brought up the debate of whether poems must rhyme.

“I?don’t think a poem that doesn’t rhyme makes any sense,”?McDonald said.

Windsor Manor Executive Director Peggy Youll said, “but isn’t a poem just words placed in a rhythm?”?

McDonald said, “Yes, it is. I?think there is something special in making rhythm and rhyme work together.”?

McDonald ended the reading on a high note with a poem about the white cliffs of Dover.

Youll said, “This was a special time. We don’t get many chances to share poetry together.”?