~~~The Poetry of Ralph W. Seager~~~
For many years Ralph W. Seager and his wife Ruth were faithful and
much loved members of the Penn Yan First Baptist Church.
Ruth Seager passed away July 12, 2005.
Ralph passed away April 20, 2008.
- They are missed by us all. -
~~~~~~~~~ Celebrated their 72nd anniversary on Dec 11, 2004 ~~~~~~~~~

by Ralph W. Seager

He stands at last in the vast and lovely meadow,
Beyond the green gate at the lane's far end;
Where climb the pleasant slopes that rise unshadowed,
With fair skys bent upon the earth's green bend.
In his new fields there is no need for portals,
No fence forbids, no warning post, no bar,
He looks back, waves high, and knows contentment
Seeing that he has left each gate ajar.

On Sunday, April 20, 2008, the congregeation of Penn Yan First Baptist received the news that Ralph W. Seager had just passed "beyond the Green Gate". He was a very young 96 years of age, retaining his sharpness of mind, quick wit and love of story telling to the very end. The one thing he missed in life was his beloved wife and school time sweetheart, Ruth, who had passed away nearly three years before.

Ralph was truly a poet laureate. His biographical data is included in "Who's Who in Poetry". He received the "Certificate of Merit for Distinguished Contributions to Poetry" from the "International Who's Who in Poetry, Cambridge, England".

Ralph authored numerous books of poetry including the award winning and acclaimed "Beyond The Green Gate" and "Wheatfields and Vineyards". He directed more than thirty poetry workshops at nationally established writers' conferences, and served as a finalist judge in city, regional and state poetry contests. His poetry has been read worldwide by Basil Rathbone over NBC's Monitor program, on the Coptic Church program over Cairo Radio in Egypt, over Armed Service Radio, and on networks in the greater Chicago area. Many magazines including the Christmas 2004 issue of Ideals Magazine carried poems and articles by Ralph.

Closer to home, Ralph was named Professor Emeritus at Keuka College where he taught English and Creative Poetry. He also volunteered as mentor and workshop leader at the Yates County Jail, where he worked with inmates to produce a book of their works, "Writings On The Wall".

On a personal note, I have always felt a special closeness to my friend Ralph. It was over eighty five years ago that he was one of my mother's students at a one room schoolhouse in the little hamlet of Guyonoga, New York.

It was a special joy to hear Ralph read his poetry, as it was delivered with the same feeling and emotion as is contained within the written lines.

... Dick Johnson

"The Extravagance of God"
More sky than man can see
More seas than he can sail,
More sun than he can bear to watch
More stars than he can scale.

More breath than he can breathe,
More yield than he can sow,
More grace than he can comprehend,
More love than he can know.

...Ralph W. Seager

Christian Courtesy

He has callers every Sunday;
None are strangers, all are known.
Yet they quickly leave, and Monday
Finds Him in His house, alone.

Should we not on Sunday morning
After benediction's said,
Mend the manners we've been scorning
Ask Him to our house instead?

---Ralph W. Seager

Wheat and Grapes - Ralph W. Seager

     Bluff Point farmers sow their wheat
     Close against their Concord vines,
     Where purple goblets hold the wines
     That rain and sunshine pour so sweet.
         Bluff point farmers see it right
         That wheat and vineyards should unite,
         Since bread and wine fulfill this union
         In the serving of Communion.

Eyes of Granite by Ralph W. Seager

It's right to have a statue in the park,
Where swords and anchors guard the pledge in stone;
I come here often in the evening's dark,
And find a courage stronger than my own.

The Cannoneer is looking to the south;
There to the north, the Cavalry's at rest;
The Rifle's east, with sternness on his mouth;
And on my side* the Sailor, facing west.

They've stood here long before my father's time,
While I've grown up beneath their sleepless gaze,
And now my sons are men, and theirs will climb
Upon this shaft on flag-filled holidays.

Mankind must live, and love, more Godlywise,
Under the plea ingrained in granite eyes.

The subject of the poem is this memorial statue which stands in the Courthouse Square just North of the church.
*Ralph was in the Navy during World War Two, serving in the Pacific.

   The Outlet Trail ~
Ralph W. Seager
Come walk with me down this waterfall staircase
that descends from Keuka to Seneca Lake.
We'll follow the path of the old Fall Brook Railroad,
retracing the way the trains used to take.

We'll bend by "Old Bluenose" which glaciers discarded,
leaving their keepsake to landmark the trail,
and work our way downward past ice-era ages
that cut through the gorge of Genesee shale.

Moss, rose and dogwood reach out their greetings
while wild phlox stand pale and shyly apart.
Indian paintbrush sways at our footsteps
as clusters of berries clutch at the heart.

We draw ever closer to the cascade's cadenza,
where its musical art of wood, wind, and reed,
and the drum's somber booming from tympani bullfrogs
tunes the cataract's concert which our ears may well heed.

We stop by the mill sites that stand silent duty
like outposts that plead for the garrison's return.
Their lift gates are rusted, the mill races empty
where the grinding of grain was man's main concern.

And here, the canal, with its locks of stone blocks
that never would earn the promise fulfilled.
Gone is the mule path, the barge and the cargo,
the grist and the lumber that once was here milled.

This still is the homeland of the furred and the feathered,
the scaled and the gilled. The kingfisher clatters
the echoing chasm where sun-sleeping turtles
siesta the logs, and the garter snake scatters

his jewels like a necklace when its string becomes broken
and spills as it shatters. We cannot fail
to safeguard this treasure. The wealth of the Kingdom
is a heritage won and must always prevail.

So it's up to the living, like you who walk with me,
to become the caretakers of the Outlet Trail.

A Barn is a Miracle by Ralph W. Seager

Here is a miracle painted red,
A weather vane upon its head
With sliding panels in the walls,
The hidden doors and secret stalls.

The wheat upon this threshing floor
Once stood in acres, score on score;
And all of June stacked in this pile
Was hay and clover by the mile.

With summer high up in the mows
Above the sheep, above the cows,
The small teeth nibbling in the bin...
So winter's barn takes all things in.

Here, in this small and magic box,
The farmer crowds his fields and flocks;
Arithmetic can never tell
How one barn holds the farm so well.

Ralph W. Seager

Barns were my churches when I was a boy
High-lofted, gambrel roofed, old gothic styled;
Silos were towers, and cupolas spires
Churches with barns I have long reconciled.

Shepherds I knew, and green pastures, and sheep
Years before I learned the twenty-third song.
My cup that ran over was wired to the well
I've lived these verses for ever so long.

Barns are cathedrals and always have been;
Christmas was born in the manger and stall.
That a baby came to us like a calf or a lamb,
Does not surprise me at all, at all.

Barns, so like churches, take everyone in;
Sinner and saint come in under their eaves.
Horses and cattle and sparrows and mice,
And the Saviour there too - - with the chaff and the sheaves.

- Ralph W. Seager

I pump the water trough beyond its brim
As the horses, hot from the hayfields being their prance,
Lifting their heavy hooves in a clogging stance,
Lower their reddening nostrils to the rim.

And yet they show good manners, or so I think,
For I take note that what they do at first,
Before they ever quench their foaming thirst,
Is to breathe upon the water before they drink.

Is there then some gratitude that courses
Through those great quivering veins, when face to face
They pause to bestow an equine act of grace?
I mind not at all being cupbearer to horses.

Heart of crocus Gold
"The rainbow of spring is in the air
And it's pastel arch must end right there
By the edge of the lawn where I behold
It's treasury filled with crocus-gold."

---By Ralph W. Seager

The Woman Taken -By Ralph W. Seager

       Ho! Rabbi, standing there 
       See what we caught in our snare.
       A clutter of men in the marketplace
       Came dragging a woman by her arms and hair.

          They closed and opened like a fang-filled face,
          Then, with a shout, spat her out
          To huddle at the Rabbi's feet
          Clutching the shroud of her guilty sheet.

       Her accusers ran to the ruined wall
       And broke off fragments until they all
       Held in their fists the verdict stone
       As she lay crumpled and alone.

       The Rabbi spoke above the din,
       This woman's guilt is some man's sin.
       How then can any stone you cast
       Condemn the first but not the last?

       Ho! Rabbi, standing there 
       The law is just; the law is fair.
       Take a stone in your holy hand
       And strike with us who so declare.

           But He stood away from the righteous band
           And on his knee kneeled to see
           The travesty they never saw:
           The woman, broken, on the broken law.


The Wisest of the Wise.
I'll stand beside the keeper of the inn,
Challenging those who charge him with the sin
That let the child be born within his stable.
I say he did the best that he was able

Under the circumstance. Where else would there
Be privacy and summer-scented air?
The beasts, benign in their nobility,
Stood watch: and this, at least it seems to me,
Gave courtesy unto the act of birth.
The hostel must have reeled with raucous mirth
Jangling the laden night with feast and dance
As Roman taxes found the dice of chance.
Only a wise man would have seen the manger
As a cradle beyond the pry of stranger.

When pompous fingers shame his guiltless deed,
I'm on his side, disciple of the need
To say he was the wisest one of all,
Providing the sanctuary of the stall.

---Ralph W. Seager

Is the Child still there?

Tell me is the Child still there?
For I am too busy to look.
There are hundreds of Christmas cards to mail
To names in an address book.

Tell me is the Child still there?
I can't take the time to see,
With turkey to buy and presents to tie,
And lights for the Yuletide tree.

Tell me is the Child still there?
I haven't had the chance,
What with parties and pageants, and all,
And arranging the office dance.

Tell me is the Child still there?
I've come at last to call;
But the shepherds I can barely see,
And the wee Babe not at all.

~ ~ Ralph W. Seager

~ Thanks to Ralph for permission to use his poetry on the church's website ~