Posts Tagged ‘poetry’

When I was in high school, my mom (an English lit major) introduced me to William Herbert Carruth’s (1859-1924) “Each in His Own Tongue.” For a variety of reasons, I’ve been thinking a great deal about this poem recently. 

I’m not an atheist, but I have the utmost respect for those who consider themselves atheists. And I get it; I get why someone wouldn’t believe in God. I do wonder – and I always have – how much religious definitions of God affect people’s decisions on the matter. For example, I certainly don’t believe in the God of fundamentalist right-wingers who use religion as a way to justify bigotry, intolerance, cruelty, and in the most extreme cases, murder. I certainly don’t believe that it’s “God’s will” for people to suffer, as so many pious people like to point out. Put simply, my definition of God just simply isn’t the same as someone else’s. So it’s a hard thing to talk about, and a subject I generally steer clear of. 

One argument that I have to mention (because it’s referenced in the poem) is the theory of evolution. I believe in evolution, and I think people who use religion as a way to argue against it may as well be living in a fantasy world. But why can’t one, for the sake of argument, entertain the thought that evolution is science paired with something so miraculous, so beyond our comprehension? No one ever seems to look at it that way, which I find puzzling. Why does it have to be one or the other?

I suppose it’s human nature that very difficult life circumstances make us question the meaning of our life and, if we do have any sort of faith, the very notion of “God” itself. And that considered, I have found this poem to be very comforting recently and very beautiful. So without going into any further analysis, I thought I would just post the poem. 

Each in His Own Tongue / William Herbert Carruth
A fire-mist and a planet,
A crystal and a cell,
A jelly-fish and a saurian,
And caves where the cave-men dwell;
Then a sense of law and beauty
And a face turned from the clod, –
Some call it Evolution,
And others call it God.


A haze on the far horizon,
The infinite, tender sky,
The ripe, rich tint of the cornfields,
And the wild geese sailing high;
And all over upland and lowland
The charm of the golden-rod, –
Some of us call it Autumn,
And others call it God.

Like tides on a crescent sea-beach,
When the moon is new and thin,
Into our hearts high yearnings
Come welling and surging in:
Come from the mystic ocean,
Whose rim no foot has trod, –
Some of us call it Longing,
And others call it God.

A picket frozen on duty,
A mother starved for her brood,
Socrates drinking the hemlock,
And Jesus on the rood;
And millions who, humble and nameless,
The straight, hard pathway plod, –
Some call it Consecration,
And others call it God.


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