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Tabb Centenary Year XVII

Seven poems by Rev. John B. Tabb, on his birthday.


I know not but in every leaf
   That sprang to life along with me,
Were written all the joy and grief
   Thenceforth my fate to be.

The wind that whispered to the earth,
   The bird that sang its earliest lay,
The flower that blossomed at my birth—
   My kinsmen all were they.

Aye, but for fellowship with these
   I had not been—nay, might not be;
Nor they but vagrant melodies
   Till harmonized to me.

February 1893 (p. 242, Himself and Others)

In the Mountains of Virginia

Nurtured upon my mother’s knee,
   From this her mountain-breast apart,
Here nearer heaven I seem to be,
   And closer to her heart.

1902 (p. 356, Quatrains: Personal)

The Playmates

Who are thy playmates, boy?
“My favorite is Joy,
Who brings with him his sister, Peace, to stay
The livelong day.
I love them both; but he
Is most to me.”

And where thy playmates now,
O man of sober brow?
“Alas! dear Joy, the merriest, is dead.
But I have wed
Peace; and our babe, a boy,
New-born, is Joy.”

1894 (p. 145, Life, Death, and Similar Themes: Joy and Sorrow)

The Test

The dead there are, who live;
   The living, who are dead:
The poor, who still can give;
   The rich, who lack for bread;
To love it is and love alone
That life or luxury is known.

May 1904 (p. 143, Life, Death, and Similar Themes: Love)

To the Summer Wind

Art thou the selfsame wind that blew
   When I was but a boy?
Thy voice is like the voice I knew,
   And yet the thrill of joy
Has softened to a sadder tone—
Perchance the echo of mine own.

Beside a sea of memories
   In solitude I dwell:
Upon the shore forsaken lies
   Alas, no murmuring shell!
Are all the voices lost to me
Still wandering the world with thee?

November 1892 (p. 49, Nature: The Wind)

The Cowslip

It brings my mother back to me,
Thy frail, familiar form to see,
   Which was her homely joy;
And strange, that one so weak as thou,
Should lift the veil that sunders now
   The mother and the boy.

1897 (p. 20, Nature: Flowers)


All men the painter Youth engage;
And some, the famous sculptor, Age.

1902 (p. 372, Quatrains: Miscellaneous)

[Today is the anniversary of Father Tabb’s birth, March 22, 1845. “Fraternity”: a lay is a song. “The Cowslip”: a species of flowering plant, Caltha palustris.]

The references (page number and section) are to The Poetry of Father Tabb, ed. Francis A. Litz, Ph.D. (New York: Dodd, Mead & Company, 1928). All of Tabb's poems published here in the Father Tabb Centenary Year were originally published before 1923.

Biblical references link to the New Advent Bible comprising Bishop Challoner's edition of the Douay-Rheims Bible (English) and the Sixto-Clementine edition of the Vulgate (Latin), since they are the versions which Father Tabb would have used as a Catholic.

The year 2009 is the centenary of the death of Rev. John Banister Tabb, November 19, 1909.

Lane Core Jr. CIW P — Sun. 03/22/09 07:00:10 AM
Categorized as Father Tabb Centenary Year & Literary.


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