Words By Heart
According to family lore, my first public speaking experience was in our little one-room church in Kentucky when I was three years old. My dad lifted me up onto that little podium, and I had three words to say: “God is love.” And I did say three words: ”God rubs me.”
A couple of years later in that same spot, I was to recite a poem which involved bird sounds such as what an owl says and what a robin says. I was rollicking along just fine until I got to the line about what the dove says. There was complete silence—I could not remember what the dove says! Finally, from four pews back, my dear mother said “Coo, coo” –and my world was all right again as I concluded the poem.
It is a joy and a pleasure for me today that my teachers from earliest years through high school saw the importance of students learning the “words by heart” as we studied different levels of poetry.
Often and unexpectedly a few lines from a poem “learned by heart” so long ago cross my mind. A well-known one is Trees by Joyce Kilmer. Its simple closing lines point to our Creator:
Poems are made by fools like me
But only God can make a tree.
Edgar Allen Poe’s “The Raven”, “Annabel Lee”, and “The Bells” were favorites. There was a certain darkness sensed in these poems requiring a special tone of voice when they were recited in class.
More seriously we quoted Longfellow’s “Psalm of Life” with these lines:
Life is real! Life is earnest!
And the grave is not its goal.
Dust thou art to dust returneth
Was not spoken of the soul.
The sad love story of Maud Muller by John Greenleaf Whittier really struck a chord in my romantic teen-age heart as I memorized those closing words:
For of all sad words of tongue or pen
The saddest are these: It might have been.
At my present age, I find myself chuckling as I recite the words of Oliver Wendell Holmes in “The Last Leaf.” When I learned these “words by heart” all those many years ago, the words of the poem were about OLD PEOPLE! Now they are about ME!
THE LAST LEAF
I saw him once before,
As he passed by the door,
The pavement stones resound,
As he totters o’er the ground
With his cane.
My grandmother has said –
Poor old lady, she is dead
Long ago –
That he had a Roman nose,
And his cheek was like a rose
In the snow;
But now his nose is thin,
And it rests upon his chin
Like a staff,
And a crook is in his back,
And a melancholy crack
In his laugh.
I know it is a sin
For me to sit and grin
At him here;
But the old three-cornered hat,
And the breeches, and all that,
Are so queer!
And if I should live to be
The last leaf upon the tree
In the spring,
Let them smile, as I do now,
At the old forsaken bough
Where I cling.
“In my personal genealogy research, I often spent days in courthouses, libraries, and cemeteries, as well as considerable expense copying, records only to discover that I was following in another researcher’s footsteps. I could have saved myself time, effort, and a lot of money if I’d only known of this research earlier.” “Don’t waste time and money completing genealogy research others have done! Take advantage of what other genealogy researchers have discovered and download this E-book in minutes to your computer or E-reader today. E-books can be easily downloaded directly to your computer with FREE APPS.”
This is Volume VI of a set of Biographies on Notable and Not-so-Notable Alabama Pioneers published by Alabama Pioneers and Donway Publishing. The biographies of the Alabamians in this book are from many sources. A good deal of the information comes from source books written when the subjects were still living. Additional information and/or documentation on any of the subjects has been included at the end of each biography. Photographs of some of the people in this Volume may be found on www.alabamapioneers.com Direct Links to the photographs have been provided with the biographies. The biographies included in Volume VI includes
Judge Daniel Arthur Greene (1863 – 1923)
John Coleman Carmichael (1861 – 1930)
Eli Forrest Denson, MD. (1853-1910)
Henry Bramlette Gray (1867 GA – 1919)
Andrew Jackson Tarrant (1832 – 1922)
Dixon Hall ( 1755 VA – d. 1820 AL)
Dr. John S. Gillespy (1859 AL – aft. 1910)
Judge Mitchell Porter (1825 AL – 1916 AL)
Judge Charles W. Ferguson (1855-aft. 1904)
Capt. Charles Drennen, M.D. (1842-1913)
Walter Melville ‘Mel’ Drennen (1851 – aft. 1924)
Sumter Bethea (1861- 1931)
William Marion Bethea (1857- 1905)
Newcomb Frierson Thompson (1844 – 1923)
William Everette Berry (1847-aft. 1910)
Thomas Hunter Molton (1853 – 1931)
Charles Hooks (1768-1843) Revolutionary War Soldier
Paul Jerome Morris Acker (1870- 1953)
William P. Acker (1868-aft. 1918)
Samuel Black Ackland/Acklen (1762 VA. – 1826 AL)
Theodore Ackland (1833-1870)
Asa Castellow Alexander (1760 – 1834) Revolutionary War Soldier
Charles Alexander (1862-aft. 1918)
George Lee Alexander (1839-1862)
Jeremiah Alexander (1763-1847) Revolutionary War Soldier
John Davidson Alexander (1829 -1901)
Olin M. Alexander ( 1868 -1930)
William Anthony Alexander (1837-1914)
William Burford Alexander (1853-1931)
William Jasper Alexander (1842)
John Finley Gillespie (1858)
James Bass Cobbs (1856-1925)
Griffith Rutherford Harsh (1860 – 1934)
Dr. Joseph Riley Smith (1818 – 1905)
Robert Patton McDavid (1867-1915)
Hon. Littleberry James Haley, Jr. (1865-1927)
Aaron A. Gambill (1865-1933)
Hon. Felix Edward Blackburn (1867-1937)