“Politics and Poetry – John Milton Hay” – Selection #21 of Deal Me “IN” 2016

The Card: ♠Ten♠ of Spades

The Suit: For 2016, Spades is my suit for “short Indiana-related non fiction works”

The Selection: “Politics and Poetry. John Milton Hay” from the 2009 book, Forgotten Hoosiers: Profiles from Indiana’s Hidden History.

The Author: Fred Cavinder (pictured below from The Southside Times), who has written several Indiana-themed books, also worked for the Indianapolis Star for 37 years, serving in many positions, from reporter to feature writer to editor.


What is Deal Me “IN” 2016? I’m glad you asked! Before the start of each year, I come up with a list of 52 stories to read and assign each of them to a playing card in a standard deck. Each week, I draw a card and that is the story I read. By the end of the year (52 weeks), I’m done, and ready to start a fresh deck. (For a more detailed explanation of the Deal Me In challenge, see the sign up post. For a look at my deck of cards/storylegacy project seal of approval 2roster click here.) Since 2016 is my home state’s bicentennial, in this year’s edition of my annual Deal Me In challenge, I’m reading only stories that have an Indiana “connection” of some kind. Deal Me “IN” is now also officially endorsed as a “Legacy Project” by The Indiana Bicentennial Commission.

Politics and Poetry – John Milton Hay

I had heard the name John Milton Hay before reading this profile, but was quite impressed with the resume of this Indiana-born politician/statesman, diplomat and man of letters. He is actually the third Indiana writer I’ve read about this year who also spent time in the diplomatic service (the others being Lew Wallace and Meredith Nicholson). I had no idea that granting diplomatic posts to writers was such a “thing” – although Hay’s accomplishments in the political world would certainly warrant an appointment if he’d never written a literary word.

Hay’s initial career options were “between law and the ministry.” He explained why he chose the former in the following:

“I could not do as a Methodist preacher, for I am a poor horseman. I would not suit the Baptists, for I dislike water. I would fail as an Episcopalian for I am no ladies man.”

Thus “limited,” he served, remarkably, in government under every president from Lincoln to Theodore Roosevelt, and not without distinction. His later duties included that of Secretary of State – often a stepping stone to the presidency, but he seemed not to have those aspirations. Somewhere in there he found time to be a writer as well, and much of his poetry appeared in Harper’s Weekly. Here’s an example – a sweet one about a doubt-plagued love:

DREAMS – John Milton Hay

“I love a woman tenderly,

But cannot know if she loves me.

I press her hand, her lips I kiss,

But still love’s full assurance miss.

Our waking life forever seems

Cleft by a veil of doubt and dreams.

But love and night and sleep combine

In dreams to make her wholly mine.

A sure love lights her eyes’ deep blue,

Her hands and lips are warm and true.

Always the fact unreal seems,

And truth I find alone in dreams”

You can read other John Milton Hay poems at http://www.poemhunter.com/john-hay/
So, what about you? Are you familiar with John Milton Hay, either as a politician or a writer? I wonder how many recent Secretaries of State have written poetry…
Ten of spades image from https://playingcardcollector.net/2013/06/27/piatnik-jugendstil-art-nouveau-playing-cards/
John Milton Hay image from Wikipedia

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