I don’t have a witty or snarky or even lovey-dovey Valentine’s Day post for you. Sorry if that’s what you were hoping for. All I have for you this Valentine’s Day is a poem that I found in that terrific collection of poems I talked about in my suggestions for surviving this ridiculous winter.
This Valentine’s Day, I’m sending love to parents everywhere. It’s hard out there in the everyday battles of getting clothes on and faces washed and meals made and books read, and you deserve some love from a fellow mom-warrior. This poem is also a gift of appreciation to my own parents, who have always been both my “sheltering shore” and “Sir Isaac Newton sitting on the bed.”
Please enjoy this beautiful poem. I didn’t write it. A talented poet named Frances Cornford did, and she really seems to get the whole being-a-parent thing.
Ode on the Whole Duty of Parents
By Frances Cornford
The spirits of children are remote and wise,
They must go free
Like fishes in the sea
Or starlings in the skies,
Whilst you remain
The shore where casually they come again.
But when there falls the stalking shade of fear,
You must be suddenly near,
You, the unstable, must become a tree
In whose unending heights of flowering green
Hangs every fruit that grows, with silver bells;
Where heart-distracting magic birds are seen
And all the things a fairy-story tells;
Though still you should possess
Roots that go deep in ordinary earth,
And strong consoling bark
To love and to caress.
Last, when at dark
Safe on the pillow lies an up-gazing head
And drinking holy eyes
Are fixed on you,
When, from behind them, questions come to birth
On all the things that you have ever said
Of suns and snakes and parallelograms and flies,
And whether these are true,
Then for a while you’ll need to be no more
That sheltering shore
Or legendary tree in safety spread,
No, then you must put on
The robes of Solomon,
Or simply be
Sir Isaac Newton sitting on the bed.