Flowers of Hope | from Amy
Amy Carmichael wrote this delightful poem for children whose lives and wellbeing were at risk. Amy’s major life work was to rescue or receive these children and offer them an alternative. They lived together with staff members at the Dohnavur Compound in South India. Over the years, scores of children found safety and hope for a different future.
The curriculum at Dohnavur included picnics in the woods, singing, and learning poems such as this by heart. It’s one of dozens Amy wrote for the children. Some, like this one, were put to music and included in a Dohnavur songbook. My comments follow the poem.
Up in Heaven, the golden street
Trodden by so many feet
Must get dusty; without doubt,
Tidy angels sweep it out.
Dust of gold then falls and falls
Past the shining, jewel walls,
Through the quiet dark blue air—
Making stars come here and there.
And the moon—who cannot sleep
And whose thoughts are very deep—
Says, “My flowers are silver; go,
They have need of you below.”
So dust falls into our world,
And the little flower bud curled
In her pale green envelope
Wakes, a golden flower of hope.
And more wake, and more and more,
Till the world’s big, grassy floor
Laughs with flowers of hope, and all
The round world’s a flower ball.
“Flowers of hope”: because they say
Softly gladly, all the day,
“Only dust of glory we;
What then must the glory be?”
Amy Carmichael, Mountain Breezes:
The Collected Poems of Amy Carmichael, p. 429
© 1999, The Dohnavur Fellowship, published by Christian Literature Crusade.
First published in Dohnavur Songs, 1921
* * *
Amy poem offers a fanciful story about how so many lovely yellow flowers happened to find themselves on this round world. Signs of the glory that we cannot yet see or comprehend.
The yellow flowers could just as easily remind us of Amy’s home full of young children–flowers of hope. They, too, have grown from dust that fell from heaven. Sent here to embody hope for all jaded grownups sorely tempted to give up on this old world. Each newborn baby an invitation to wonder. If this is just the “dust of glory. . . What then must the glory be?”
The news headlines aren’t exactly packed with hope for the present or the future. Especially for children and their caretakers. But Amy’s frame of reference isn’t news headlines. It’s the everyday miracle of yellow flowers and young children still pointing us in the right direction. Upward, instead of into despair and hopelessness.
If, that is, we’re willing to become like little children. Especially those who’ve been betrayed and yet are able to trust, be vulnerable, and full of wonder instead of cynicism, fear or deadly apathy.
© Elouise Renich Fraser, 20 July 2015
Photo credit: DAFraser, May 2015
Longwood Gardens Meadow