Sunday, February 10, 2013

More "found" poetry in the words of Mildred Ratcliff

Last year I delved into various family history-related documents from the 18th and 19th centuries to "find" poems in the wonderful words and phrases contained within them.  Correspondence was much more of an art form in the past, it seems, and even legal documents and Quaker meeting minutes have a certain rhythm and poetic feel to them.  The Memoranda and Correspondence of Mildred Ratcliff is a particularly good trove; it is no wonder that Mildred was respected as a minister and prophetess among Quakers.  The following poem is based on her words, contained on pages 36-37 of her Memoranda and Correspondence.  I have added line breaks, edited and revised a bit to improve the rhythm and flow, but for the most part left the words as Mildred wrote them.


Mildred Ratcliff; based on text from her Memoranda and Correspondence, pp. 36-37
First Month 1st, 1805

Oh! the wonderful goodness of my God!
Oh! the overflowing of thy love that I have felt this day.
The new found songs of praise that I have been favored to sing!
Yea, I will say hallelujah to thee.
Teach me, and I will declare of thy wonderful works,
whilst my hands are employed about the business of the day.

How thou hast arisen in my heart.
Thy animating love overcomes and reigns above all,
raising in my inward life new found praises,
adoration, thanksgiving, and supplications
unto thee, who liveth and abideth forever.
I have said in my heart, I am lost in love and praise;
for thou art holy! holy! holy!

Thy goodness extends to the smallest work from thy hands;
thy gracious care is to the sparrow upon the house-top.

Thou art worthy of all my affections.

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