Poem #45: The Miracle by Fenton Johnson

Estimated Reading Time: 2.5 minutes

A black and white photo of Fenton Johnson leaning on his right arm and looking towards the camera
Soure: Wikimedia
Title: The Miracle

Author: Fenton Johnson



Though I was dwelling in a prison house, 
My soul was wandering by the carefree stream
Through fields of green with gold eyed daisies strewn, 
And daffodils and sunflower cavaliers. 
And near me played a little browneyed child, 
A winsome creature God alone conceived, 
“Oh, little friend,” I begged. “Give me a flower
That I might bear it to my lonely cell.” 
He plucked a dandelion, an ugly bloom, 
But tenderly he placed it in my hand, 
And in his eyes I saw the sign of love. 
‘Twas then the dandelion became a rose. 


This is one of those poems without a rhyming scheme and yet to read aloud, it is so very easy to derive the rhythm and flow of the words (or at least, it is for me).  The notion of this poem reminds me of how we celebrate beauty as a rarity and we see that with flowers.  The dandelion does have its own natural beauty but because of its abundance, it seems less valued than the rose or other similar flowers.  The more delicate and rare the flower, the great it is praised and yet, a dandelion is capable of growing and thriving in a crack in the sidewalk.  

With that in mind, I read this poem and think about how this prisoner dreams up this scene and asks the boy for a flower to which he delivers.  In reading this scene, I see the little boy as a younger version of the speaker and that the prisoner is the dandelion that became the rose.  That is, something about the self-love needed to survive whatever the speaker has manifested in this dream. That the prisoner strived deep within his soul and pulled forth something to give him faith and strength as he sits in prison.    

Those are my thoughts.  What did you find interesting about the poem?

About the reflections
This poem is part of a 365 day challenge project that focuses on a poem a day.  Similar projects have included short shorties and photo reflections. Part of the intention of this year's project is to develop a better appreciation and means of reflecting on poetry, something that has never been a strong suit for me.  These reflections therefore do not represent a definitive assessment of the work by me. They are merely an opportunity for me to have a public conversation about what they mean in order to help myself better understand them and mayhaps have a conversation with readers for further insight.  

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