The Bald Eagle

The Bald Eagle

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

The Ballard of the Harp-Weaver Changed My Life by Pat Garcia

Hello Everyone,

It is the first Wednesday of the month, and IWSG Time. 

IWSG is a writers' support group created and led by Alex Cavanaugh. It is a big help to many of us who do not mind sharing our insecurities, our successes or giving encouragement and help to others. 

So, if you are interested and would like to join, the link below will lead you directly to us:

My report: 


Glimmer Train: Very Short Fiction

The Ballard of the Harp-Weaver Changed My Life by Pat Garcia

I have been learning poetry by memory as long as I can remember. That’s the way the older people kept my mind busy from asking too many questions when I was little. However, I didn’t realize the role poetry would play in me discovering the power of words until I was fifteen. 

I came across the poem by Edna St. Vincent Millay, and it knocked me out. I remember crying as I read it.  Encountering this poem came at the appropriate time for me. Our church was scheduled to be the hostess for the Walker Baptist Church Convention in Georgia. My grandfather had asked me to recite a short poem for the closing program. He said a short poem because he knew he hadn’t given me much time to learn a long poem like The Creation by James Weldon Johnson. But I was so much in love with the Ballard of the Harp-Weaver that I gave it a go. It took me three days to impregnate that poem in my heart. 

The closing evening of the convention I stood before a packed sanctuary filled with expectancy as I stood before them empty-handed, no book, no paper to read from. As I begin to speak with my eyes observing the people sitting on the front rows, I knew the moment I had caught them up in the world of the tiny boy and his mother. 

I will never forget the quietness in the sanctuary as I got to the second to last verse with my sad, melancholy voice.

There sat my mother
  With the harp against her shoulder
Looking nineteen
  And not a day older,

A smile about her lips,
  And a light about her head,
And her hands in the harp-strings
  Frozen dead.

The church gasped aloud, shocked.

I paused two or three seconds to let the reality of the words sank in their hearts and then continued with the last verse.

And piled up beside her
  And toppling to the skies,
Were the clothes of a king's son,
  Just my size

People jumped out of their seats clapping their hands. I received a standing ovation but more than that I realized the power of words spoken from the heart. 

Wishing all of you a lovely month of May. 

Shalom aleichem,

Pat Garcia

*The Ballard of the Harp-Weaver by Edna St. Vincent Millay


  1. What a wonderful choice! God gave you that poem to recite.

  2. You gave me chills, Pat. Good chills and some smarting about the eyes. Wonderful story.

  3. Poetry and I have never been on the same page.

  4. Wow! Such power in poetry AND in the way it's spoken/performed. I wish I could memorize/remember things like that. Sigh.

  5. What a lovely memory of a moving performance. Of course, I had to look this one up--what a beautiful, wrenching poem. That's quite a feat for a child to memorize, much less perform. Clearly, you developed your stage presence at a young age.
    Thanks so much for your kind words on my blog this morning. They mean a lot.

  6. Learning poems by rote has such great benefits. I wonder how many modern educational curricula focus on rote learning of poetry?
    A standing ovation? What a powerful moment, Pat!

  7. Thank you for sharing this lovely blog post that touched my heart. You were blessed to have such an experience. The Robert Frost poems have much meaning for me and I loved studying Shakespeare's sonnets in college. I used to write a lot of poems when I was younger. Now you've flamed that part of me alive again and I'll experiment with poems. Thank you.
    JQ Rose

  8. Powerful poem! Thank you for sharing this with us.

  9. Great poem! Thanks for sharing this part of your life with us!

  10. What a beautiful memory! I, too, love the poetry of Edna St. Vincent Millay. In junior high, I memorized Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's Midnight Ride of Paul Revere and even today, can still recite the first few stanzas.

  11. What a powerful memory! I love Millay's poetry, too.

  12. How wonderful to get that standing ovation!

  13. Wow, the part you shared reaches inside. I can't write poetry, but I've read some that grips me and twists at my heart.

  14. Wow, Pat, wish I could have been there. Poetry has sooooo much power.

  15. That is so lovely Pat thank you ...

  16. Wow! That must have been powerful live! Thanks for sharing :-)

    Ronel visiting for #IWSG day: Help Me, Please!

  17. What a beautiful story. You're delivery here was pretty powerful too. God Bless. Hugs. Juneta

  18. I had forgotten how much I enjoy your blog. I've got to get back to blogging fulltime.

    Thanks for visiting me.

  19. Great story, Pat. I have to admit I don't quite understand the last verse. What does it mean?

  20. Thanks Pat! I just finished a biography of Millay - All The Lips My Lips Have Kissed - so good! She was a memorizer of poetry - me? I cannot even memorize my own. The Ballad of the Harp-weaver was for her mama. Thanks for always being your true good self.

  21. What a beautiful poem. I've been mossing my mom, so this was doubly touching.


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