Early Settlers of
Their Descendants...Their Stories...Their Achievements
Lifting the Mists of History on Their Way of Life
By: Ethelene Dyer Jones
National Poetry Month: Featuring Local Poet, Barbara Ruth Sampson
we celebrate during April the art of poetry, a local contemporary
She is Barbara Ruth Nicholson
(Collins) Sampson who lives on
Spring in the mountains,
but you are not here.
Yet, somehow, my eager eyes discern you
faintly profiled against darkening clouds,
hear your voice echoing in sky-shattering thunder
above the splintered silver waterfalls,
feel you in the profound absence of footsteps
along the leaf-padded trail bordering
the lavishly blossoming rhododendron thicket.
I sense you in the profound grandeur
of this unpeopled wildness,
relax with utter satisfaction in this spot
exclusive to lichen on boulders,
protective moss on northside of trees,
and the drama of an eagle launching himself
into vastness of sky above rugged mountains.
You are here in this
that prohibits raucous, man-made noises
within its sacred solitude,
and comes your voice to my depth of yearning
a luminescence of all past glory.
The cadence of your robust laughter,
profound and sincere, makes me smile,
my heart to sing.
So good there is nothing to intrude,
here in the mountains of spring,
Who is this wordsmith, this maker of verse? Would you believe she has already celebrated her four-score and tenth birthday? Spending most of her time now in a wheelchair, she is not bound by its physical limitations but allows her mind to soar, to grasp ideas that challenge and cajole, words that send imagination on flights of beauty to climb to heights of solitude, where there is “nothing to intrude” save for the very pleasure of writing.
This retired educator—high school
English teacher for many years---is herself a daughter of educators: Dr. James M. Nicholson was her father,
inimitable principal of Union County High School from about 1930 until
retirement in the mid-1940’s. Her mother
was Flora Maynard Nicholson, also an English teacher.
She grew up with siblings James Frank, George
Truett and Flora Nelle. Her sister,
called Nelle, is also a word-crafter and a poet. Barbara
Ruth proudly traces her ancestry back
to her great, great grandfather John Nicholson, a Revolutionary War
whose grave is in the
Barbara Ruth Sampson and I have been
pen pals for many years. Her letters are
literary gems, delightful to read and saved among my treasures. It was my distinct pleasure, as a fellow
member with her of the Georgia Poetry Society, to review her book of
published in 2000 by Sparrowgrass Press,
Like Reece, she is adept at the quatrain. Her “On Planting a Crocus Bulb” states a tremendous amount of truth in four lines: “I planted a crocus bulb today/under the leaves, under the clay;/ I planted a bit of purple hope/in a chilly wind, on a barren slope.”
In “Mortality” she feels and touches the splendor of earth and leads the reader to explore our own time and space in the world. The questions posed in the poem lead the reader to contemplate answers:
Why has pulsing spring so early come to earth
in this the growing winter of my days;
what primal instinct stirs less certain steps
to seek among more rough and youthful ways?
Now surely should I pull the fleecy shawl
around the shivering bones of age,
nor face the freshened breeze that challenges
beyond the spirit now grown pale and sage.
What is this pang within my very core
that makes me laugh yet wish to cry,
envisioning all that will come more
when empty of the world am I?
In reading her book, “Earth Is a Splendid Place”, one identifies with her love for natural beauty and her zest for life. Though age, an expected part of life, rolls upon us with the passing years, she encourages our welcoming the seasons as friends and the accrual of years as a blessing. During this month for poetry and poets, her poetic philosopy is well-expressed in another quatrain that gives her book its title:
High the sky to the edge of heaven,
bright the sun as a smiling face;
life is a treasured blessing given,
and earth is a splendid place.”
Congratulations, Mrs. Sampson, for your well-earned title of 2004 Senior Poet Laureate! Your stamina and wisdom are admirable; your love for and expression of words in poetry are exemplary. You make us think while giving us beauty.
Jones; published Apr. 14, 2005 in The Union Sentinel, Blairsville,
Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
Updated August 29, 2009