Doris Evelyn Alice Falconer, born April 9, 1922, died August 24, 2004

You taught me the importance of good humour,
the gravity of truth and courtesy;
to never take for fact a rampant rumour,
but make the time to search for honesty.

You showed me many wonders gleaned from nature
(the wisdom gained from all that’s wild and free)
the blissful kiss of bee on blushing flower
and raw survival’s claw of savagery.

You told me that, unspeaking, I should listen
to others’ words, then read between the lines
for meaning that my ears may well be missing,
and learn from all those underlying finds.

You urged me not to fret too much—don’t worry,
for peace of mind is life’s most precious gift;
to never be too proud to say, “I’m sorry”
when friendship’s more important than the rift.

You taught me to attain my full potential,
to reach for dreams and never be deterred;
that hope and faith and love are all essential—
and though you’re gone, I still hear every word.



Susan Jarvis Bryant is a church secretary and poet whose homeland is Kent, England.  She is now an American citizen living on the coastal plains of Texas.  Susan has poetry published in the UK webzine, Lighten Up On Line, The Daily Mail, and Openings (anthologies of poems by Open University Poets).

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33 Responses

  1. Rod

    Oh what a beautiful poem Susan! Reminded me of my own dear grandmother. And the poignancy of your last line I’m sure will resonate with a great many.

    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      Thank you very much, Rod. I can see that we have something in common with our grandmothers – what wonderful relationships we’ve had. I was lucky to have my nan for all my formative years and beyond.

  2. Satyananda Sarangi

    Hello Susan ma’am,

    At times, I read a poem and get so lost in it that mere words would not be appropriate. For me, this poem is the one where silence is the best compliment. Reminded of my own grandmother who passed away in 2009, much before I started writing.

    Stay safe, best wishes

    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      Thank you very much for your heart-touching observations, Satyananda – they’re much appreciated.

  3. Peter Hartley

    Susan – Brilliant, as always. Can we ever expect any less of you? Just one tiny point to cavil at, and this is nothing to do with your poetry (I’m not sure I would even dare now). Lower case initial letters to lines will always look wrong to me, on aesthetic and historical grounds, and don’t look very “classical” for a society that purports to be so. But I suspect you will have a far better reason for retaining them than I have for turning them back to capital letters. And either way I’m sure your grandmother would have been enormously touched by this thoughtful poem.

    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      Peter, thank you very much for your comments. I really appreciate your question. As you know, I am in love with rhyme, meter, and the plethora of poetry types to choose from. My answer is very simple. I like poetry to be as accessible as possible – first, and foremost, for me. When I read my poem, I like it to flow along smoothly, and find the capital letter at the beginning of each line a distraction, especially when it comes to appreciating enjambment to the full… the capital letter halts my flow. When studying Shakespeare’s sonnets, the cumbersome capital letter in the middle of a beautiful train of thought bothered me, as did the archaic language. I feel no modern sonnet should contain archaic language (unless it is for comic effect) as it makes it somewhat inaccessible and cumbersome to a modern reader, so why is it so drastic to remove the capital letter for exactly the same reasons?
      Having said that, I am willing to change my mind. When you mention the “aesthetic and historical grounds”, I feel a sense of integrity where the capital letter is concerned, and it certainly frames the poem nicely – although, a frame would work to greater effect if capital letters also appeared at the end of each line. (I’m only joking). I would certainly change my style if Evan required it – no poet would like their work overlooked for the sake of an unshakeable principle.
      I am very interested to hear viewpoints on this matter and more than willing to change my opinion… if convinced by an argument that sways me.

      • Peter Hartley

        Susan – I fully agree with you with regard to the use, misuse and abuse of archaic language in a modern poem, except, as you say, for comic effect (and you could scarcely use ‘sblood, ‘sfoot, gadzooks or ‘od’s bodikins for anything else) I think that when it is used for other reasons It is often just a cop-out as to use “or” for “before” because we have run out of syllables or “o’er” for “over” for the same reason. The use of upper case for the initial letters of lines in poetry has an ancient lineage, however, going back to the earliest incunabula and to the beginnings of printed English, notably to Caxton’s printing of Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales in 1476. That is the historical reason for upper-case initials. The aesthetic reason (for me) is that the left-hand edge of type looks ragged with a mixture of upper and lower case. But you may well think the very reverse, and as you say, argumentum ad absurdum, from an aesthetic point of view alone, why not both edges of type? (Caxton never thought of that?)

      • Susan Jarvis Bryant

        Peter, I belonged to the Caxton House (in honour of William Caxton) at school. In my final two years, I was a prefect and wore a light blue sash in the “Caxton” colours. My father and grandfather worked at a book publishing company. I am addicted to the smell of a freshly printed batch of books. I love this site and feel certain the majority of members feel the same way you do – historical and aesthetic grounds for capitalising shouldn’t be taken lightly. My argument seems to be paling into insignificance by the minute. From this day forward, I’m with you all the way. Unless I feel like going off on a creative tangent with a concrete poem, capital letters at the beginning of each new line it is! Peter, you’ve enticed me back to the path of literary purity. Warning – please don’t ever ask me to give up my pudgy gluts of stodgy adjectives! LOL

      • C.B. Anderson

        Susan & Peter,

        Initial caps in poetic lines is just a convention. Some folks like ’em and some folks don’t. I tend to use them nowadays just because I decided a few years that they put some of the formality in formalism, something from which I do not shy. You each put forward points for and against, and all these points are valid. It’s just a matter of taste and the matter of the needs of a particular poem. Using them is now my default mode, but I will happily dispense with them if there is a good reason to do so.

      • Joseph S. Salemi

        I’m glad Mrs. Bryant has decided to use initial capitalization. Peter Hartley’s historical arguments are quite correct — initial caps for poetry have been standard in the West ever since the invention of printing. Add to this the fact that the vast bulk of existing canonical poetry in English uses initial caps, and one is compelled to think that a refusal to use them is petulant and self-absorbed. It’s just another example of “in-your-face” modernism.

        But visual aesthetics is the real clincher. A page of poetry with a left-hand margin that is a randomized mishmash of lower-case and upper-case letters (some of the latter for proper names, some for the start of a new sentence) is intrinsically untidy and unsightly.

      • Susan Jarvis Bryant

        Dr. Salemi, thank you for endorsing the majority viewpoint on capitalization. I feel the time has come to bow to my betters. I am, however, a tad disappointed to discard my diva traits of petulance and self-absorption – I hope my poetry doesn’t suffer from the departure. LOL

  4. Joe Tessitore

    A very beautiful poem, that so obviously speaks of you as well as your grandmother.
    Thank you for sharing it with us.

    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      Thank you very much for reading and commenting, Joe. Your observation is lovely.

      • Peter Hartley

        Susan – never in a million years! Where would the manciple’s and the summoner’s tales have ended up without their imbibing untold gallons of pudgy gluts before they left the Tabard? And surely it was only the pudgy gluts that gave the squire enough confidence to perform an emergency bilateral orchidectomy on the nun’s priest (and a Caesarean on the miller) without anaesthetic?

      • Susan Jarvis Bryant

        Peter, I’m seeing The Canterbury Tales in a whole new and hilarious light. If you had written the Cliff Notes, school-day Chaucer would have been far more appealing. The Nonnes Preestes Tale of the Cok and Hen now sounds like the title of a Carry-On film LOL – Carry on Chauntecleer! Thank you for my morning grin!

  5. Jeff Eardley

    Susan, you certainly know how to make a grown man cry. Absolutely brilliant.

  6. Susan Jarvis Bryant

    Thank you for dropping by, Jeff, and thank you for your kind comment. My grandmother meant the world to me and I’m glad that came through… although, I apologise for the tears.

  7. Norma Okun

    Susan, I commend your grandmother who taught you well in principles. I wish there were more of them today. I believe a lot of suffering and pain can be avoided if the words of wisdom and conduct are heard early at home.

    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      Norma, you are absolutely right. Our youth would most certainly benefit from a caring input from family members, especially those who are older and wiser, those who society appears to have scant respect for these days. I consider myself most fortunate. Thank you very much for dropping by to read and comment.

    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      Thank you very much for your kind comment, David. If I am half the woman my grandmother was, I am a very fortunate woman indeed.

  8. Margaret Coats

    Susan, I see that this is an anniversary poem, having been posted on the date of your dear grandmother’s death. This says all the more about your love for her, and I certainly honor Evan for taking notice and putting it out on the proper day.

    The first line of the third stanza struck me as weak, because “that before I speak to listen” is poor grammar and usage. And looking forward to the rest of the stanza, good parallel structure would require a “to” before “read” and another “to” before “learn.” However, there is more than one way to fix this little problem, while maintaining the rhythm.

    You told me that, still silent, I should listen
    You told me that, yet quiet, I should listen
    You told me that, unspeaking, I should listen
    You told me that, ere speaking, I should listen

    In the last option, “ere” for “before” may seem archaic, but my dictionary says that “ere” is “archaic or poetic.”

    The poem is a lovely poetic tribute to your grandmother!

    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      Margaret, thank you for taking the time to read, to comment, and to offer some very welcome advice. I agree wholeheartedly and will edit accordingly. I appreciate your considered suggestions together with your lovely observations.

  9. Rod

    Absolutely agree with C.B. regarding the use of initial letter caps. Always used them myself as in my mind’s eye it helps to differentiate the work from prose.

  10. Susan Jarvis Bryant

    Peter, C.B. & Rod, thank you very much for your input on the initial letter caps front – I’m convinced.

  11. Mike Bryant

    I love this beautiful tribute to Your grandmother. I feel like I know her because You have shared so many stories with me. She lives on in You. You write like a dream.

  12. Jeff Kemper

    Susan, your poem made me long for something I never had – a relationship with any of my grandparents. And I have no grandchildren. But I have five of what I call “adopted grandchildren,” who tell me that I am actually a kid as are they. I hope I instructive for them as was your marvelous grandmother for you.

    And what a wonderful discussion on capitalization; I agree with the “capitalists,” but I’m not a hardliner. I regret never having read Dryden, Spenser, Pope, et al, and only a bit of Shakespeare, for I feel a bit out of place in these discussions.

    But while we are on the subject of formalities, I noticed that I placed my commas inside quotations in the above paragraphs, a practice I abhor but execute anyway, since I heard that it is the American way. Perhaps someone can explain why.

    • Mike Bryant

      Since capitalization at the beginning of each line distinguishes poetry, I suppose prose must be the more common form of writing.
      I am definitely a “Capitalist” now.
      I’ll never ever be a “Commonist.”

      Here are the American rules of punctuation.

      • Jeff Kemper

        Thanks, Mike, for the link. The footnote at the end answered a question I always had. I place commas and periods within the quotes in the same way a child eats his spinach.

  13. Susan Jarvis Bryant

    Jeff, thank you very much for your comment. I was lucky to have a close relationship with a grandmother who was, in my eyes, perfect. However, life’s experience has shown me that blood is not thicker than water. The majority of my “family” are not related to me, and they are all gifts in a life made much happier by each and every one of them. It sounds as if your “adopted grandchildren” bring you much joy as I’m certain you do them. The heart and soul of a relationship is everything – I’m certain your role as grandfather is invaluable.

    As for grammar, spelling, and pronunciation my head is constantly spinning. Sometimes I think in British English, sometimes American English, and sometimes both at the same time… it’s a wonder I’m able to produce any coherent poetry. LOL


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