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Poetry and Music for November


An old man planted and dug and tended,
Toiling in joy from dew to dew;
The sun was kind, and the rain befriended;
Fine grew his orchard and fair to view.
Then he said: "I will quiet my thrifty fears,
For here is fruit for my failing years."

But even then the storm-clouds gathered,
Swallowing up the azure sky;
The sweeping winds into white foam lathered
The placid breast of the bay, hard by;
Then the spirits that raged in the darkened air
Swept o'er his orchard and left it bare.

The old man stood in the rain, uncaring,
Viewing the place the storm had swept;
And then with a cry from his soul despairing,
He bowed him down to the earth and wept.
But a voice cried aloud from the driving rain;
"Arise, old man, and plant again!"

“Disappointed” by Paul Laurence Dunbar. Born in 1872, Dunbar began writing poetry as a child and his work had already been published by the time he reached age fourteen. The son of freed slaves from Kentucky, he became one of the first African American poets to gain national recognition. Though a good student, Dunbar was too poor to attend college and in 1892 he took a job as an elevator operator. In 1893, he began selling his first self-published book of poetry for one dollar to people who rode his elevator. When he moved to Chicago later that year he became friends with Frederick Douglass, who found him a job as a clerk. In just a few short years, Dunbar’s poetry began being published in national newspapers across the country.1


“Hallelujah” by Leonard Cohen who passed away on November 7, 2016. Cohen was a Canadian singer and songwriter, as well as a poet and novelist. He was known as a Sabbath-observant Jew and kept the Sabbath even while on tour. Though not a Christian, Cohen showed a keen interest in Jesus Christ, once stating, “I'm very fond of Jesus Christ. He may be the most beautiful guy who walked the face of this earth. Any guy who says 'Blessed are the poor. Blessed are the meek' has got to be a figure of unparalleled generosity and insight and madness…A man who declared himself to stand among the thieves, the prostitutes and the homeless. His position cannot be comprehended. It is an inhuman generosity. A generosity that would overthrow the world if it was embraced because nothing would weather that compassion.”2


1.       More of Paul Laurence Dunbar’s biography can be found here.
2.       More of Leonard Cohen’s biography can be found here.


Alisa Williams is Spirituality Editor at
Photo Credit: Erik Dungan /


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