An Outlook

Every April, from the time when this month was first declared National Poetry Month, I have included at least one column featuring a poem, dating back to the days when I wrote for The Door Reminder. Thus, it would seem a shame to let this April slip by without continuing the tradition.

In this instance, I offer a poem by my father, whose attraction and proficiency with structured poetry in his early years always amazed and sometimes confounded me. The title of the poem below, “Prothalamion,” is intended as a nod to the 16th century poet, Edmund Spenser. In 1596, Spenser published Prothalamion; or, A Spousall Verse in Honour of the Double Marriage of Ladie Elizabeth and Ladie Katherine Somerset (the daughters of the Earl of Worcester). So a prothalamion is a wedding song.

The structure of my father’s poem is called a sestina, which was created in the late 12th century by the Provencal troubadour Arnaut Daniel and was quickly picked up and imitated by other troubadours of the time. A sestina consists of six, six-line stanzas followed by a three-line stanza (called a tornada). Each of the six-line stanzas use the same ending words, that change order in each successive stanza, while the three-line ending stanza uses all six words again: three in the middle of the verses and three at the end of the verses.

This poem appeared in his collection entitled A Giant of My World, published by the Golden Quill Press in 1960.


By Harold M. Grutzmacher, Jr.

The millennium broke with a whisper
Of dread and morning winds tug at my flags
Of festival. Darkness becomes bright
Dawn without clouds masking the wisest sun
We have yet known or trumpets cracking our dreams
Into splinters despised in other days.

This is the finest yet of our days,
Unfolding like a sea on the whisper
Of dread at change and sudden fruits of dreams.
Flickering morning stars serve with flags
To mark our celebration, and a sun
Will warm us lovingly to a bright

Zenith. You come fragile in your warmth, bright
With the seed of your promise and our days,
Understanding my love for naked sun
And how shouts of love become a whisper
From tongue to tongue; the flying flags
And souls return from stars to lie in dreams.

Numbers cannot measure my jeweled dreams
And pleas to gods I do not love; the sun
Is our master and your slave to whisper
Obeisance to the subtle hints of your bright
Eyes once my incantation transforms our days
To handsome blossoms, petals battle flags

For our perfect army. Enough of flags
And war; relate softly your private dreams
To me while smiling for our guests bright
In finery, feasting our new-won days
With wines and laughter as your lithe whisper
Beguiles me and coaxes down the sun.

This perfection ends with out sun
Deepening the riot of our flags
Into night, promised threshold of our days
Imposed precisely on your textured dreams,
And our knowing god departs for bright
Regions until called back by your whisper.

They bear down my flags and leave us dreams
We caress till sun creates a world bright
As Eden: our days are born from your whisper.