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[Poetry Friday] Nancy Wood’s “Strengthen the Things That Remain” – in the Wake of Minister Mentor LKY’s Passing

poetry friday

Myra here.

It has been quite awhile since I joined the Poetry Friday community, hosted this week by Amy Ludwig VanDerwater of The Poem Farm. I thought of sharing a poem today as I was deeply moved and saddened by the passing of one of Singapore’s Founding Fathers, Lee Kuan Yew, Minister Mentor. As I ponder on how much Singapore is mourning over the loss of a great man and reflect on Good Friday, which marks the death of Jesus Christ, poetry brings solace and peace once again as seen in this beautiful book: This Place I Know: Poems Of Comfort with poems selected by Georgia Heard and illustrations done by 18 renowned picture book artists.

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This collection of 18 poems was gathered together by Georgia Heard during the wake of the World Trade Center Tragedy to provide some semblance of meaning to young people who have witnessed and lived through this cataclysmic event. In the Author’s Note, Georgia Heard stated:

As I read through poems for inclusion in this anthology, I kept asking myself one question: What words can comfort? I tried to choose poems that touch upon our feelings of fear and loss, remind us that we are not alone in despair, and assure us that dreams can be born even from tragedy.

There were familiar poems such as Emily Dickinson’s hope is the thing with feathers and Langston Hughes’ Dreamsbut there were also a few that spoke to me in a new voice such as Wendell Berry’s The Peace Of Wild Things:

Took a photo of the poem as found on the internet and edited it using an iPhone app.
Took a photo of the poem as found on the internet and edited it using an iPhone app.

Most of the poems are also inspirational such as Louise Driscoll’s Hold Fast Your Dreams and quite empowering with Trouble, Fly by Susan Marie Swanson. The illustrations provided by the award-winning artists are equally uplifting. Here are a few of my favourites:

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The poem that provided me with the most comfort as I grieve alongside Singapore with LKY’s passing is Nancy Wood’s Strengthen the Things That Remain. I hope this poem provides you with a sense of quiet too this Good Friday.

I took a photo of the page and edited it using an iPhone app.
I took a photo of the page and edited it using an iPhone app.

This Place I Know: Poems of Comfort. Poems Selected by Georgia Heard and illustrations by Eighteen Renowned Picture Book Artists. Published by Candlewick Press, 2002. Book borrowed from the NIE Library. Book photos taken by me.

4 comments on “[Poetry Friday] Nancy Wood’s “Strengthen the Things That Remain” – in the Wake of Minister Mentor LKY’s Passing

  1. amyludwigvanderwater

    Thank you, Myra, for this poem for today…for all of us, regardless of what and whom we mourn.

    “Do what you will, but strengthen the things that remain.” Nancy’s words – and you – are on my mind.

    May your Poetry Friday and spring season hold joy and goodness too. xo, a.

    Like

  2. maryleehahn

    “Strengthen the things that remain.” YOU remain, and you have chosen the perfect book with which to strengthen yourself.

    I think Mr. Berry says essentially the same thing, doesn’t he?

    Like

  3. It’s past Good Friday and Easter too as I finally make it over, but your post is timeless – thank you for sharing Georgia Heard’s book and your heart with us. I did hear of the passing of Lee Kuan Yew on the news last month; while my world history is a bit deficient, I immediately thought of you. Sending warmest thoughts and prayers.

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  4. I will have to get this book. Hugs to you, Myra…

    Like

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