Wednesday, April 23, 2008

One More Poetic Memory of My Father...

So, one more and I'll probably stop. My dad had a strong desire that his children (all 5 of us...we're Catholic, ok?) would be cultured. He had a near photographic memory (well, it was selective to the subject). Part of being cultured was to call him "Sir", to be exposed to poetry and to embrace reading like it was a drug. (All great demands, in retrospect)

I remember in college I had my heart utterly and completely shattered by Handsome. REALLY BAD FIGHT. Beyond repair (so I thought) and I travelled home that weekend to be consoled by my familial unit. Everyone thought it was over.

All I wanted was a hug from my dad.

After getting the "Strong Woman Pep Talk" from my mom all about how I was better without him and he was never good enough for me, blah, blah, dad came home.

He knew the situation, just took me in his arms as I broke into tears and asked, "Do you remember what I told you? 'Tis true, tis true'"

He was referring to a poem by A.E. Houseman, "When I was One and Twenty" (I was really Two and Twenty). It was the perfect consolation that I could have asked for. Maybe it makes no sense, but to me, it did.

My dad hides behind his own wisdom, even today, but he, more than anyone else in my life (with maybe the exception of Handsome who is my Twin Soul, truly), has known exactly what to say when.

When I Was One-and-Twenty

WHEN I was one-and-twenty
I heard a wise man say,
"Give crowns and pounds and guineas
But not your heart away;
Give pearls away and rubies
But keep your fancy free."
But I was one-and-twenty,
No use to talk to me.

When I was one-and-twenty
I heard him say again,
"The heart out of the bosom
Was never given in vain;

'Tis paid with sighs a-plenty
And sold for endless rue."
And I am two-and-twenty,
And oh, 'tis true, 'tis true.