Anne Porter, “Music” from Living Things.
Copyright © 2006 by Anne Porter. Reprinted with permission from Steerforth Press.

This submittal is offered in memory of Henry Holland, Co-founder of Glimpses of Faith

When I was a child
I once sat sobbing on the floor
Beside my mother’s piano
As she played and sang
For there was in her singing
A shy yet solemn glory
My smallness could not hold

And when I was asked
Why I was crying
I had no words for it
I only shook my head
And went on crying

Why is it that music
At its most beautiful
Opens a wound in us
An ache a desolation
Deep as a homesickness
For some far-off
And half-forgotten country

I’ve never understood
Why this is so

But there’s an ancient legend
From the other side of the world
That gives away the secret
Of this mysterious sorrow

For centuries on centuries
We have been wandering
But we were made for Paradise
As deer for the forest

And when music comes to us
With its heavenly beauty
It brings us desolation
For when we hear it
We half remember
That lost native country

We dimly remember the fields
Their fragrant windswept clover
The birdsongs in the orchards
The wild white violets in the moss
By the transparent streams

And shining at the heart of it
Is the longed-for beauty
Of the One who waits for us
Who will always wait for us
In those radiant meadows

Yet also came to live with us
And wanders where we wander.


I see glimpses of faith flowing freely through this stunningly beautiful poem. The images remind me of our worship services, the outstanding music, its pageantry, the spoken word, and now, with chills, Henry Holland’s presence seemingly always being there with us, as he has been in so many activities and functions of our church for so many thankful years. The music of his presence has been more like a symphony for us.

The feelings of poet Anne Porter as a youngster, listening to her mother play the piano, come to light again, and yes, such beauty “opens a wound in us, an ache a desolation.”  Henry’s amazing consistency of devotion, among heavy physical restraints, reminds me, and somewhat further explains, Porter’s feelings. Henry even had a percussion section in his rolling orchestra, his air pump, acknowledging his presence, pulsing his life-stream, counting like a metronome, the music of Christian relationships, collections of writings, endless knowledge, imagination and keen wit. That was just part of Henry’s “beauty.”

Now, there’s the image of Henry with “the One who waits for us.”  They’re together, I know, discussing unanswered questions Henry always carried with him in that huge mind. Thanks for your gifts to us Henry, of yourself over all of these years. Peace. Praise be to God.


“Music” — 3 Comments

  1. Page, your parallels between “Music” and the life of Henry
    Holland are magnificently composed. If I read the poem
    and your tribute one more time, I may have them
    memorized. You capture the harmony of his generous spirit
    that over-powered adversity.