Friday, March 13, 2015

Let Us Now Praise Old Things

Hello and Happy Poetry Friday! Be sure to visit Laura at Author Amok for Roundup (and all sorts of other poetic goodness!). Big thanks to everyone who signed up for our 2015 Progressive Poem. Our roster is FULL! Poets who signed up, I will be in touch the last week of March with more information. So happy to have you join us -- it's going to be fun!

This week I had the great fortune to spend some time with my dear friend Pat in Cullman, Alabama, where we shopped the thrift stores and treated ourselves to lunch. We also visited Deb's Bookstore. And the whole day I was thinking how much I love old things. AND THEN, lo and behold, posted on the wall at one of the junk shops was a poem called "I Love Old Things" by Wilson MacDonald. 

Turns out Mr. MacDonald was a pretty prolific Canadian poet, so beloved, there's even a museum named after him! What joy to discover a new (old) poetic voice! And extra-appropriate, as I will soon travel to Austria, Germany and Switzerland to experience all sorts of old (new to me!) things! So here's the poem, with a shout-out to one Amy LV, who did that amazing series of Thrift Shop poems for National Poetry Month last year!:

by Wilson MacDonald

I love old things:
Streets of old cities
Crowded with ghosts
And banked with oranges,
Gay scarfs and shawls
That flow like red water.

I love old abbeys
With high, carved portals
And dim, cool corners
Where tired hearts pray:
I join them in the silence
And repair my soul.

I love old inns
Where floors creak eerily
And doors blow open
On windless nights,
Where heavy curtains
Dance a slow waltz.

I love old trees
That lift up their voices
High above the grasses.
They do not sing
At the light wind's bidding:
They chant alone to storms.

I love old china,
Knowing well the flavour
Of great, strong men
And fair, sweet women
Lurks at the rim
Of each deep brown bowl.

I love old books
Frayed from the searching
Of truth-hungry fingers:
Their warm, soft vellum
Leads me up through sorrow
Like a dear friend's hand.

I love old men
And old, dear women
who keep red cheeks
As the snows of winter
Keep the round red berry
Of the wintergreen.

I love old things:
Weather-beaten, worn things,
Cracked, broken, torn things,
The old sun, the old moon,
The old earth's face,
Old wine in dim flagons
Old ships and old wagons...
Old coin and old lace,
Rare old lace.


  1. Wow, Irene. What a find! The details in this poem evoke an old city for me.
    "Gay scarfs and shawls
    That flow like red water."
    I can picture the open air market with stalls of fabric.

  2. Irene, I haven't seen this poem before or heard of Wilson MacDonald. The poem you shared makes me want to read more from him. It's amazing what we find in those old "junk" shops! : )

  3. What a great find! Have a wonderful trip!

  4. Wow! What a poem. Each stanza a gem with a tight finish to boot! Safe travels, Irene!!!!

  5. Wow! What a poem. Each stanza a gem with a tight finish to boot! Safe travels, Irene!!!!

  6. It's so beautiful. We're lucky you found it, and then shared! I love the one verse about old trees, have one "old cottonwood" outside my office window, and understand that line "chant alone to storms".

  7. I love this too--the combination of grand and plain old things, of nature and artifice. Reminds me also of "Pied Beauty" by Gerard Manley Hopkins. Thanks, Irene!

  8. Perfect! I agree with Charles -- every stanza rings true. Have fun enjoying really really old things and places!

  9. Irene,
    Thank you for introducing me to a "new to me" poet. This poem is gorgeous.

  10. Enjoyed hearing you read this lovely poem!

  11. That's the best thrift store bargain of all... those special things that are just sitting there waiting for you and you alone. Thanks for sharing your treasure with all of us!


Your thoughts?