Sophy Burnham ’58

Author of fifteen books, best-selling author, Sophy Burnham ’58 has written novels, plays, children’s books, short stories, investigative journalism, essays and poetry, including Falling: Love-Struck, the God Poems (Finishing Line Press, 2016). Her work is found in several anthologies and is translated into twenty-six languages. She is best known for writing on mysticism, angels, and the spiritual dimension.         

What is a poem?

What is a poem is not an idle question
in these days when neither rhyme or rhythm rule,
when connections are left to the bafflement
of readers who leap from stone to stone
in crossing streams of consciousness. You may as well
toss words into the air and snatch
as they fly

like bats beating on your brain pan
as the Dadaists
did.

What is poetry which does not save
nations or people?
grieved Nobel poet Czeslow Milosz,
about the holocaust.

But surely that’s not the purpose of a poem:

How about a blue armchair
a child, a book:
How about Patroclus killed:
How about the old man
just an old man now
don’t think king his wagon
the patient oxen the star-stabbed night
the old man who crosses the enemy lines
to beg the body of his son:

How about the child’s tears
streaming across three thousand years?