A Poem for the Birth of My Daughter

I came home off of my mission in mid-October 1979, and ended my missionary journal at that time. I tried to keep up my journal writing habit, and so kept writing on looseleaf paper until I could get a new bound journal to use. This journal runs from 11/18/79 to a final entry of 1/1/91. I lost this journal a long time ago, but my wife just now found it in our hall storage space, so I’ve been enjoying rereading it.

It was funny to read my post-mission patter, including a lot of entries about dating and such. On 1/14/80 I wrote this line: “Saturday I ran into Melody and her friends at a dance, and before the evening was out I had lip action.” (As you can tell I had been over-influenced by my Californian friends at BYU! And I have no memory at all of this event or even who “Melody” was.) It was also interesting to see my growing interests in scholarship, the books I was reading, my first publications, and so forth.

Speaking of my fledgling scholarly chops, starting on 3/22/81 I did something sort of pompous: I began to keep my journal in Latin. That lasted until 9/17/81, at which point I gave up; it was just too hard. I’m sure I made a lot of mistakes, but it was just my personal journal so I wasn’t too concerned about that.

The main reason I had wanted to find this thing all these years is that I wrote a poem for my yet unborn daughter Emily about a month before she was born. (We didn’t know the sex yet, so it used male grammatical forms; I’ve modified them to female here.) I’ve always wanted to share that with her, and now I can. Since this was part of my Latin journal phase, the poem is in Latin. I’ll give the original text below, together with a translation:

Carmen Domino Occasione Primi Nostri Infantis

Domino die cantabo,
Laudabo mericordias eius nocte;
Spectavit nam suum servum Kevinum,
Invisavit suam servam Sandram.
“Parvala enim nata est nobis,
Et filia data est nobis.”
Semper eam amabimus
Amore sempiterno
In tempi saecula omnia.
O puera, sis robusta fortisque
Et firma viis Domini.
Crescas fieri integra probaque,
Digna filia potentis Dei!

A Song to the Lord on the Occasion of Our First Child

I will sing to the Lord by day,
And praise His mercies by night;
For He hath looked upon His servant Kevin,
He hath visited His servant Sandra.
“For unto us a child is born,
Unto us a daughter is given.”
We shall love her forever
With an eternal love
In all ages of time.
O girl, may you be vigorous and strong,
And firm in the strength of the Lord.
May you grow to become whole and honorable
A worthy daughter of Mighty God!

Comments

  1. The perfect father’s prayer.

  2. You are a great man, Kevin. After reading the OT, I have thought that I should try to write a Psalm, and here you have done it. Now I definitely will have to give it a shot.

  3. Grant Barney says:

    Wow dad, very pretentious indeed. So does this mean I didn’t get a latin poem? I feel so left out now and I hadn’t even realized it all these years.

  4. Kevin, as usual, you are a rock star. This is very sweet.

  5. Kevin Barney says:

    Grant, you know how parents take more pictures of their first child because, well, she’s first? Same principle applies to Latin poems, I’m afraid. But if you’re still interested I think I could manage an English limerick for ya…

  6. Stephanie says:

    Wow, very sweet. Cute exchange with Grant, too. You make parenting seem fun. :)

  7. Proud Daughter of Eve says:

    That was wonderful. Just perfect!

  8. Love the parallelism, the epiphora, and is that hidden anaphora in the last two lines?? Swoon.

  9. This is beautiful, Kevin. It brings back so many memories! Thanks.

    Grant, if your dad writes you a limerick, I want to read it – I think . . .

  10. “May you grow to become whole and honorable”

    Delightful.

  11. MikeInWeHo says:

    Let’s help Kevin out and collectively write something for Grant.
    I’ll get us started:

    There once was a son named Grant Barney…..

  12. who didn’t grow up to be a carney(?)

  13. Cynthia L. says:

    There once was a son named Grant Barney,
    Who didn’t grow up to be a carney,
    He’s witty and brave!
    His own poem he does crave,

  14. But instead we give him balarney!

  15. MikeInWeHo says:

    Let me polish this up:

    There once was a son named Grant Barney,
    Who didn’t turn into a Carney.
    He’s witty and brave,
    His own poem does he crave;
    But instead we give him this blarney!

  16. Kevin Barney says:

    Ding ding ding! I’ll make sure he sees this. Thanks for doing my fatherly duty for me.

  17. Mark Brown says:

    Guys, that’s pretty good for a first draft but shouldn’t it be in Latin? Who knows, maybe Latin limericks might replace patriotic haiku as BCC’s preferred poetic form. I also just want to say that it thrills me to actually know somebody who is smart enough and geeky enough to have actually kept his journal in Latin. Nice going, Kev.

  18. Grant Barney says:

    Very creative guys, but you really shouldn’t encourage this behavior. My dad writes enough limericks as it is.

    As for the photo thing, I’m pretty sure there were more pictures of Playful the cat than Emily and me combined.

  19. Kevin Barney says:

    Grant speaks the truth. I’ve been known to do our Xmas letter in limerick form, much to my wife’s dismay. And it’s true, we have more pictures of our longtime cat Playful (now deceased) than of the kids combined. Since I’m not the family photographer I’ll claim innocence on that one.

  20. Other Grant says:

    “My poem you never did write”
    Said Grant to Kevin one night
    “While Playful got all the attention,
    Of me you made barely a mention”
    And now Kevin is surely contrite

  21. Grant Barney did not get a poem,
    Which made him feel like King Jeroboam.
    To his father he went,
    And his garment he rent,
    So BCCers wrote verses to show ‘im.

  22. “I feel so left out!”
    Famous dad no Latin wrote.
    Second child shafted.

  23. I love being surrounded by fellow word nerds. Selah.

  24. Cynthia — that made me laugh out loud. May it inspire a thousand more. (Uh, not really.)

  25. 22 now we just need that cross stitched on a pillow for dear Grant.

  26. Kevin Barney says:

    It’s a good thing we’ve had lots of practice writing haiku around here.

  27. I couldn’t read it without singing it in Gregorian plainsong. Quite moving (the poem, not my singing I hasten to add)!

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