Thursday, June 19, 2008

Thank you - Maria Shriver's Memorial Poem

Maria Shriver read the poem, "The Little Ship", at Tim Russert's memorial service yesterday. When I copied it here, I had no idea that it meant as much to other people as it did to me. Almost 800 people have come to the blog, looking for this poem. It says a great deal about Tim Russert, and what he meant to people, that so many of us watched the service, and identified with the poem. It also showed how beautifully Maria Shriver read the poem, one that was sent to her by someone after the death of her cousin, John F. Kennedy, Jr. Thank you for coming to the blog to read it. I'll share it again, in case you missed it.

The Little Ship

I stood watching as the little ship sailed out to sea. The setting sun tinted his white sails with a golden light, and as he disappeared from sight a voice at my side whispered, "He is gone".

But the sea was a narrow one. On the farther shore a little band of friends had gathered to watch and wait in happy expectation. Suddenly they caught sight of the tiny sail and, at the very moment when my companion had whispered, "He is gone" a glad shout went up in joyous welcome, "Here he comes!"


I don't know if you noticed the picture. It was a beautiful day in Washington, D.C. yesterday, for Tim Russert's memorial service. When they ended the service, the song played was "Somewhere Over the Rainbow." And, according to MSNBC, at that time, they were worried about the lightning and storms. Was it a surprise, to any of us watching who cared about a man we never met, that after the service, and the lightning, there was a double rainbow? It was a fitting conclusion, just one more memorial for a man we'll miss.

12 comments:

Alexis. Kozak@level3.com said...

Thanks so much for printing the poem. I just lost my brother at 41 yrs of brain cancer & this certainly hit home & I too will be blessed & comforted with the meaning.

Alexis Kozak

Lisa Richardson said...

Lesa, thank you. That was very special.

I don't always comment, but I always enjoy your blog.

Thanks for sharing,

Lisa Richardson

Auntie Knickers said...

The poem read by Maria Shriver is a shortened version of a piece (I wouldn't call it a poem myself, more a meditation) called "A Parable of Immortality" attributed to Henry Van Dyke, who also wrote "The Other Wise Man" and "Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee" (a hymn to the tune of Beethoven's Ode to Joy.) Van Dyke was a Presbyterian clergyman, environmentalist, and writer in the late 19th-early 20th century. I could not find an original publication of this piece (i.e. a book printed during his lifetime with his name on the title page) but I did see that Phyllis Theroux published about 10 years ago a book of eulogies and funeral readings which included it, and perhaps she did the research. Anyway, it seems reasonable that he wrote it. This piece was read at my parents' funerals and I believe has been reprinted in Dear Abby or Ann Landers more than once.

Lesa said...

Ah, Alexis,

I'm sorry for the loss of your brother. I know how hard it can be. I'm glad the poem helped.

Lesa said...

You're welcome, Lisa.

Thank you for commenting today. I know you're one of the regular readers, and I appreciate it.

Lesa said...

Auntie Knickers!

Thank you for answering the question that people have been asking. Who wrote the poem? I hadn't come across a source. I appreciate it.

writingmom said...

Lesa: Thanks for posting the "poem". It is actually a paraphrase (with some artistic license) from Henry Van Dyke's writing mentioned by Auntie Knickers. Here is the writing "A Parable of Immortality" in its full and, I believe, original content:

"I am standing upon the seashore. A ship at my side spreads her white sails to the morning breeze and starts for the blue ocean. She is an object of beauty and strength, and I stand and watch until at last she hangs like a speck of white cloud just where the sea and sky come down to mingle with each other.

Then someone at my side says, 'There she goes!'

Gone where?

Gone from my sight ... that is all.

She is just as large in mast and hull and spar as she was when she left my side and just as able to bear her load of living freight to the place of destination. Her diminished size is in me, not in her.

And just at the moment when someone at my side says, 'There she goes!' there are other eyes watching her coming and their voices ready to take up the glad shouts 'Here she comes!’

Lesa said...

Thank you, WritingMom. I have to say, though, Henry Van Dyke needed editing. The version Maria Shriver read is so much more concise, and it reads better. Had she read the original version, I don't think anyone would have cared.

writingmom said...

Lesa: I am in total agreement. The paraphrase is concise and to the heart. The VanDyke version is in need of paring down for simplicity and impact and would not have moved our hearts the way the Shriver version moved us.

Sara Paretzkys book looks like a gem. I'm glad I found your blog.

Lesa said...

Thank you, WritingMom. Sara Paretzky's book is very unusual. She certainly pulls no punches, even about her own life.

Glad you agree about the Shriver version of Van Dyke's essay.

MARSHA CALDERON said...

I WAS SO SUPRISED TO SEE HOW MANY PEOPLE WERE TOUCHED BY THE POEM MARIA SHRIVER READ AT TIM RUSSERTS MEMORIAL. I LOST MY DAUGHTER FOUR YEARS AGO AND AFTER HEARING THAT POEM IT WAS VERY COMFORTING. I READ IT EVERYDAY AND FEEL A SENSE OF RELIEF WHEN I DO.

THANK YOU FOR PRINTING IT.

Lesa said...

You're welcome, Marsha.

I'm so sorry. My father, who lost a son when my brother was only 2 and a half, always said a parent should never have to bury a child. I'm sorry.

It's so nice that the poem does bring you some comfort.