There have been a few times in my life when I have felt worthless. I have felt despised and have despised myself.

It is at those times – most recently after the birth of my youngest daughter – that I appreciate things that might not seem like “poetry” at other times in my life. Maybe what makes it poetry, then, is how it speaks to me when I need it to.

This is one of those classic poems (at least in the Christian circles I grew up in) that you’ll find framed and hanging on someone’s living room wall.

I used to hate that kind of thing.

But now I understand why my aunt had it above her organ, back when she lived in that little house. I think maybe I grasp some of what she heard when she read that poem in her head.

I was reminded of this poem in a book I read recently. It made me think of Saturday nights spent with my aunt, after catching fireflies at Grandma’s farmhouse and eating pudding pops.

Maybe that’s what poetry is all about. Maybe it’s all about going somewhere, thanks to the words of someone who knows how to weave them just so. Maybe it’s that smell that wafts up as you think of summer treats with favorite people. Maybe it’s the urge to call someone up that you

All because someone sat down and put in the work to write a poem.

But don’t take my word for it. Go see the rest of this week’s round-up, hosted this week at A Year of Reading.

The Touch of the Master’s Hand by Myra B. Welch (1877-1959)

Twas battered and scarred, and the auctioneer
thought it scarcely worth his while
To waste much time on the old violin,
But held it up with a smile.
“What am I bidden, good folks,” he cried,
“Who’ll start the bidding for me?
A dollar, a dollar, then, two! Only two?
Two dollars, and who’ll make it three?
Three dollars, once; three dollars, twice;
Going for three . . .”
But no,
From the room, far back, a grey-haired man

Came forward and picked up the bow;
Then, wiping the dust from the old violin,
And tightening the loose strings,
He played a melody pure and sweet
As a caroling angel sings.

The music ceased, and the auctioneer,
With a voice that was quiet and low, said:
“What am I bid for the old violin?”
And he held it up with the bow.
“A thousand dollars, and who’ll make it two?
“Two thousand! And who’ll make it three?
“Three thousand, once; three thousand, twice;
And going and gone.”said he.

The people cheered, but some of them cried,
“We do not quite understand, what changed its worth?”
Swift came the reply:
“The Touch Of The Master’s Hand.”

And many a man with life out of tune,
And battered and scarred with sin,
Is auctioned cheap to the thoughtless crowd,
Much like the old violin.
A ‘mess of potage,’ a glass of wine;
A game – and he travels on.
He is ‘going’ once, and ‘going’ twice,
He’s ‘going’ and almost ‘gone’.
But the Master comes and the foolish crowd
Never can quite understand
The worth of a soul and the change that’s wrought
By the touch of the Master’s Hand.

Poem found online here
Image source here