There is a strange holiness around________, But there his fish lay like a key, To the bright lost mystery.
Strange Holiness By Robert P. Twistram Coffin
There is a strange holiness around
Our common days on common ground.
I have heard it in the birds
whose voices reach above all words,
Going upward, bars on bars,
Until they sound as high as stars.
I have seen it in the snake,
A flowing jewel in the brake,
It has sparkled in my eyes
In luminous breath of fireflies.
I have come upon its track
Where trilliums curled their petals back.
I have seen it flash under
The towers of the midnight thunder.
Once, I met it face to face
In a fox pressed by the chase.
He came down the road on feet,
Quiet and fragile, light as heat.
He had a fish still wet and bright
In his slender jaws held tight.
His ears were conscious, whetted darts.
His eyes had small flames in their hearts.
The preciousness of life and breath
Glowed through him as he outran death.
Strangeness and secrecy and pride
Ran rippling down his golden hide.
His beauty was not meant for me,
with my dull eyes, so close to see.
Unconscious of me, rapt, alone,
He came, and stopped as still as stone.
His eyes went out as in a gust,
His beauty crumbled into dust.
There was but ruin there,
A haunted creature, stripped and bare.
Then he faded at one stroke
Like a dingy, melting smoke.
But there his fish lay like a key
To the bright, lost mystery.
Robert Peter Twistram Coffin is a relative of mine.I know this because my mother was a genealogist for over 30 years. A lot of poets shake out of my family tree. No wonder I love poetry.
In my days as a care giver for Tootsie’s Girls I took care of a women named Rita who knew him when he was at Bowdion College, in Waterville, Maine. She worked there and she said he was not to smoke on campus, yet pipe in hand he did.
Robert Peter Tristram Coffin was born in March 18, 1892 and died January 20, 1955. I was born February 16th 1955. Robert PT Coffin was an American poet, educator, writer, editor and literary critic. He was warded the Pulitzer Price For Poerty in 1936. He was the Poetry editor for Yankee Magazine.
He was also a descendant of Twistram Coffin, a settler and Alice Mary Coombs who lived on a saltwater farm on Sebascodegan Island. He earned his undergraduate degree from Bowdoin College in 1913 and then his Masters of Arts from Princeton University in 1918. In 1922 Coffin was awarded the degree of Doctor of Literature by Oxford University where he was a Rhodes Scholar. He won the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry in 1936. He also served in the US Army in World War I. When he came back from the war he taught English at Wells Preschool. After this he was as the Pierce Professor at Bowdoin college. He was the co-founder with Carroll Towle of the Writers’ Conference of the University of New Hampshire in 1956. It is an interesting read to check him out.