Guest poem sent in by Sidharth Jaggi
(Poem #1248) The Cold Within
Six humans trapped by happenstance In dark and bitter cold Each possessed a stick of wood-- Or so the story's told. Their dying fire in need of logs, But the first one held hers back, For, of the faces around the fire, She noticed one was black. The next one looked cross the way Saw one not of his church, And could not bring himself to give The fire his stick of birch. The third one sat in tattered clothes He gave his coat a hitch, Why should his log be put to use To warm the idle rich? The rich man just sat back and thought Of wealth he had in store, And keeping all that he had earned From the lazy, shiftless poor. The black man's face bespoke revenge As the fire passed from his sight, For he saw in his stick of wood A chance to spite the white. And the last man of this forlorn group Did nought except for gain, Giving just to those who gave Was how he played the game, Their sticks held tight in death's stilled hands Was proof enough of sin; They did not die from cold without-- They died from cold within.
Poetry of the distant past used often to be a medium to convey high-minded morals in a trite, sugar-coated package form. The form still survives, but is now usually thought of disparagingly (with good reason - consider those avoidable cloyingly sweet Hallmark cards, where one tends to gloss over the words as easily as water does off the cards) if at all. But every once in a while one comes across pieces like the one above where the words fit as neatly as if (dare I say it? :) God meant them to, and the thinly veiled message can be swallowed without too much effort. This above piece is, iMho, a gem. I think it deserves a place in this forum, especially since minstrels is fast becoming a premier poetry archive :) The place I read this poem (framed on a wall) attributed it to a high school student, sometime in the mid-1970s. A cursory search on the net hasn't helped much either - was this teenage prodigy really a one-hit person? I wonder what happened to him... -- Sidharth Jaggi