It might have been the words “beautiful to the very heart” that my father had used to explain the beauty of the mountains outside of Vienna. The words “beautiful” were no doubt chosen for the idea that they seemed to describe something that my father knew all too well was true. I can remember the first time that I understood my father’s true meaning.
My father taught me to appreciate beauty and not to deny it. Even when he was lecturing on the importance of poetry, he taught me to appreciate its power. I recall one particularly memorable time that he spoke with such eloquence about poetry that I found myself speechless the entire time. When he was on his death bed, my mother gave him a special message he wanted to say to her. She handed him a book of poems by a little known artist named George Ramm who was then in France. It was an article in the “Colloquial,” a popular magazine, which explained the importance of poetry and told the story of how a French friend had discovered a verse by a “beautiful” poet who had died soon after being born.
My father thought it an impolite thing to be given a copy of the poem by such a little known man. He took a quick glance at the poems and saw that Ramm was one of the very few people in Europe who had ever been to the United States before. But no one thought much of the subject matter. It was only years later that I learned that Ramm might have been the son of a Parisian painter who had been in love with a French girl who had moved to the United States later in life as an adult.
I was told that poetry was “one of the few things in the English language we never quite get over.” When my father retired at the age of 60, he sent one of his books of poems to his wife, the only woman in the house. I remember the message he left her with this letter, which was never released:
I love you so much and I know you want a little time for yourself. But before you leave you can give this book to some one in your family who loves poetry.
You will appreciate its beauty, yet also how different it is.
From a young man who loved so many things, I have learned how to cherish what is most precious.
You are no longer “my dear one”, but to my friends, my “little friend” for all
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