sometimes a crumb falls
from the tables of joy some
times a bone is flung
Pretty cheeky of me but this is adapted from the poem, Luck, by Langston Hughes, word for word.
Sometimes a crumb falls
From the tables of joy
Sometimes a bone
To some people
Love is given
Some times for some people things fall, are flung, are given or found.
How can so much be packed into so few words?
I wonder what others might have made of this.
I also wanted a further attribution so I put the phrase, Sometimes a crumb falls in the google and was rewarded with a story that appeared in the New York Times on March 2, 1994.
In the article by Joe Sexton, Mr. Sexton reports on the New York City Transit authority was using ad space in the New York Subway system to display poetry in a program called Poetry in Motion.
On that day, March 2nd, in 1994, this poem was on display and Mr. Sexton rode along on the subway to ask commuters if they had noticed the poem, if they would read it, and want they thought it meant.
It is a fascinating read and a fabulous snapshot of a moment in the lives of several people who I am sure never once thought they might be talking to a reporter about Langston Hughes on the New York Subway.
For me, the poem might have its roots in the Bible story in Matthew 15:
The woman came and knelt before him. “Lord, help me!” she said.
He [Jesus] replied, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to the dogs.”
“Yes it is, Lord,” she said. “Even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their master’s table.”
Then Jesus said to her, “Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted.”
I could go one with this thought of crumbs that fall, a bone that is flung, love found on earth or in Heaven but I won’t.
That thought of Biblical roots does not show up in the thoughts listed by the reporter as he interviewed commuters.
“I can’t express it, but I get it,” Ms. McNeil says of the poem.
“A crumb? A bone?” she [another commuter] asked. “What’s it got to do with heaven?”
“… To me, the poem means that you are lucky if you even find just some happiness.”
The story was headlined, Langston Hughes On the IRT; A Poem Arouses Many Feelings.
Whatever the feelings, I have to feel that Mr. Hughes would have been happy to learn that his poem, posted in the subway, where people might have a few seconds to ponder its message, had many feelings.
One more thing.
Those tables of joy.
Simple phrase you can consider in your mind and find it is 20 minutes later in your day.