Justice Harris’ poem “Homecoming”

JEFFERSON, Iowa, Aug. 24, 2016 — We’ve been thinking ahead to this Sunday’s “Poetry Out Loud” program at our Greene County Historical Museum, featuring readings by members of the “First United Coven of Greene County” poets group. And that prompted a pleasant memory of one of Greene County’s most respected citizens, the late David Harris, who was known much more for his 27 years as a justice on the Iowa Supreme Court but was also a fine poet.

Justice David Harris mugshot
Justice David Harris

Justice Harris, who died in 2010, occasionally wrote reflections for the Jefferson Bee & Herald, and sometimes he included poems he’d written.  So we asked retired Bee & Herald editor and publisher Rick Morain if he happened to have any of Harris’ poetry handy, hoping we could share a verse with readers.

Morain gave us one that seems most appropriate, a poem of praise by Harris for his hometown of Jefferson.  The Morains have it framed and displayed on their mantelpiece.  Harris wrote it in 1973 and titled it “Homecoming.”  It is written with a rhyme scheme of a Shakespearean sonnet, and here it is to savor:

Our pride is not in us but in the place
That molded us and is our strength and pride
As we come home. We sing its lasting grace,
Thanksgiving sing, to town and countryside.
If there is good in anything we’ve done
Or said, or written here or anywhere
We may have wandered, any laurels won,
The words and deeds were not enough to bear
Our thanks. Kind fortune smiled most tenderly
Upon our gentle town, gave treasures rare,
To us for all the watching world to see.
Our sons and daughters, with so much to share,
Should lead this sad and weary world to live.
We, here, were given so much more to give.

You can enjoy the poetry reading this Sunday, Aug. 28, at 2 p.m. at the museum in Jefferson.  The program is free — and the refreshments will be, too.

And you can read more about it in another story on this internet site.

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