In celebration of National Poetry Month the Jasper Project invited several artists, writers, and leaders in the Columbia arts community to share with us their favorite poems and most of them generously accepted.
We’ve put together this collection of our favorite poems and will be sharing them with you, poem by poem, day by day, over the month of April. Some of the poems are old and traditional, others are new and inventive. Some are whimsical, others are insightful. Some rhyme. Some don’t.
What they all have in common is that someone you know loves that poem – and this gives us such lovely insight into the soul of our community.
Thank you to everyone who shared their poetry with us.
And Happy National Poetry Month from Jasper.
Today we're featuring Sheila Morris's favorite poem, Lay of the Last Minstrel, Canto VI, [My Native Land] by Sir Walter Scott
My dad loved poetry and recited this poem and countless others from The Best Loved Poems of the American People, his favorite book, when I was very young. He carried his Bible to church every Sunday, but he read poetry the other six days of the week.
Lay of the Last Minstrel, Canto VI
Breathes there the man, with soul so dead,
Who never to himself hath said,
This is my own, my native land!
Whose heart hath ne’er within him burn’d,
As home his footsteps he hath turn’d
From wandering on a foreign strand!
If such there breathe, go, mark him well;
For him no Minstrel raptures swell;
High though his titles, proud his name,
Boundless his wealth as wish can claim;—
Despite those titles, power, and pelf,
The wretch, concentred all in self,
Living, shall forfeit fair renown,
And, doubly dying, shall go down
To the vile dust, from whence he sprung,
Unwept, unhonour’d, and unsung.
Sheila Morris is the editor of Southern Perspectives on the Queer Movement published in 2017 by the University of South Carolina Press.