Original Fragment: September 7, 1950. Reconstructed from an unfinished draft copy and memory.

 

                        The Story

                               

                                A myth you say, the story being told

                                       That God became a man and walked on earth

                                       Impossible, you say, that flesh could hold

                                       Divinity that has no boundary.

                                       But I say this to you, for what it’s worth:

                                       Go find a man who loves his enemy

                                       And you will see in that unfleshly act

                                       The Holy Spirit walking in a man

                                And not in story or in myth, but as a fact.

 

 

                                               

                        An Scéal

 

                                Dar leat, is miotas é an scéal  á  rith

                                       Gur shiúil Dia ina fhear faoin spéir

                                       Ní féidir é go gcoinneodh feoil ar bith

                                       An diagas nach bhfuil teorann aige ann.

                                       Más fiú é, deirim leat é seo go léir:

                                       An fear a fháil a ghránn a namhaidsean

                                       Is féach, sin gníomh don fheoil nach cóir ná ceart

                                       ’Sé sin an Spiorad Naomh ag siúl i bhfear

                                Is  níl  i  miotas nó  i  scéal,  ach  ina  bheart.

 

Version in Irish: 14 January, 2004                                          Raymond J. Clark / Réamonn Ó Cléirigh

 

Comment: Even though the English version of the poem above didn't exist back in 1950, I've included it here to represent a poem that did exist then and for a special reason. I think it was the only poem I wrote in those days with the intention of helping someone. In the summer of 1950, three years after I left St. Agnes, a Catholic high school in College Point, I met a former classmate, Ronald Schmaltz, who in the course of our conversation told me he had lost his faith and was leaving the Church. He gave me some of his reasons and I kept thinking about it. I begin the reconstructed poem above with two of the things he said to me that I remember --- it's all a myth or a story and it's impossible. I think I sent the original to him written inside a birthday card. I didn't keep a copy.

When we were in high school together and I was trying to convince Ronald about something, he would say to me, 'You're my best friend because you saved me from the lake' and then slyly, he might say, 'so I have to listen to you' --- putting me off. Now, how I saved him from the lake was by fast talking in our first or second year of school. At the end of an outdoor evening dance in Kissena Park in Flushing, I saw a commotion a little distance away and walked over. An Irish gang from College Point (which was largely a German neighborhood) had Ronald in hand and they were going to throw him into the lake. I knew about this gang but I had never seen them. I told the leader that Ronald was In my class and that I was a member of an Irish gang in my neighborhood. (I didn't mention that we also had Italians in our gang, which was no gang at all, but mostly our football team) When I thought I was on his good side, I told him Ronald couldn't swim and might drown. And I said I would talk to him and tell him not to go near that girl anymore --- because that's what it was all about. The leader, a tough-looking guy like a thinner Jimmy Cagney with a kind of permanent smile on his face, released Ronald over to my custody.

In the first year of high school, I remember how impressed I was when Ronald stood up in class and said that his ambition was to become the first Catholic president of the United States. I didn't even know there hadn't already been a Catholic president. Through the years Ronald's strong opinions used to get him into trouble with almost everyone, but he was far ahead of all of us when it came to politics After he completed his education, he spent a number of years in Washington, D.C., working in the political field and later I heard that he entered local politics in Connecticut. I never heard that he left the Church or lost his faith.

I didn't see him again after the conversation we had in 1950. I don't know whether the poem in the card helped him. I'm not even sure I sent it. But if I did send it and it did help him then I saved him again, and this time, maybe, from a very very deep lake.\