The Cold Within

Cleaning out drawers and closets today I came across a paper that I’ve saved for twenty-six years. It was a hand-out for “Cultural Awareness Month” back in 1994, prepared by the Federally Employed Women, Inc.

After rereading the poem printed on the page, I am inspired to share it with others. I love this poetic story so much, I plan to frame it and hang it up somewhere.

I have a strange adoration for rhyming poetry ☺, can’t deny it. Even more, I love poetry with a clear and beautiful meaning. The poem below exemplifies both of these characteristics with bountiful honor.

The Cold Within, written by American poet, James Patrick Henry, in the 1960s, stands up as a testiment of the stubborn nature of humanity.

Share your thoughts on this!


The Cold Within

Six humans trapped by happenstance

In a bleak and bitter cold

Each one possessed a stick of wood

Or so the story’s told.

Their dying fire in need of logs

The first woman held hers back

For of the faces around the fire

She noticed one was black.

The next man looking cross the way

Saw one not of his church

And couldn’t bring himself to give

The fire his stick of birch.

The third one sat in tattered clothes

He gave his coat a hitch.

Why should his log be put to use

To warm the idle rich?

The rich man just sat back and thought

Of the wealth he had in store,

And how to keep what he had earned

From the lazy shiftless poor.

The black man’s face bespoke revenge

As the fire passes from his sight.

For all he saw in his stick of wood

Was a chance to spite the white.

And the last man of this forlorn group

Did naught except for gain,

Giving only to those who gave

Was how he played the game.

Their logs held tight in death’s still hands

Was proof of human sin.

They didn’t die from the cold without

They died from the cold within.

-James Patrick Henry

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