The Thespian and the Old Man
The Thespian and the Old Man
Henry Matthew Ward
Dedicated to Brother James W. Garner


A number of years ago, there came a noted British actor
On solo tour, to do an act based on a sacred factor.

The audience for this special tour (decidely exclusive)
Were congregations of the church. The reason?...not elusive....

He knew the faithful of the church would flock to this recital...
For what his act consisted of was "readings" from the Bible.

And, sure enough, each place he went, the people came to hear him.
They filled the pews and balconies, each feeling like a pilgrim.

His baritone voice boomed loud and clear from pulpits 'cross the nation,
Dramatically honing every phrase with fitting animation

His "readings" were, in fact, by heart, (by this, I mean by memory).
With proper emphasis and pause, befitting sacred history.

The scriptures were drama in his hands, an undisputed master....
A Thespian of the highest rank without a sole detractor.

The papers hailed him everywhere with headlines such as "Stirring!"
"Soliloquies such as this are rare!" "Don't miss it!" "Quite enduring!"

Then, near the end of this rave tour, appearing in a small town,
A modest church had hosted him. Of course, he held them spellbound.

At his finale on this eve, their silence told the story.
For, no one knew just what to say to follow in such glory!

At last there stood, from near the back, an old and wrinkled fellow.
"I thank ye, Sir", he said to him, "them words wuz sweet an' mellow!"

And then the man said something else that startled all the people...
"Kin I share verses dear to me, I first learnt 'neath this steeple?"

Before the crowd had realized what was about to happen,
They froze in utter disbelief! The pastor's face was ashen...

"The poor old man has surely flipped, or maybe he's just senile....
To follow mastery of the art with simple country profile!"

It was too late to stop him now, he calmly was proceeding.
So, patiently waiting, all sat still and listened to his reading.

Then slowly it revealed itself, they heard a item present...
A factor missing prior to now, a trusting, true contentment.

It didn't have the resonance and strict enunciation,
Professional skills like gesturing, of any great oration.

But, here was a man who truly felt the words he spoke were holy.
His confidence lay, not in himself, but in the scriptures, solely.

He read with simple faith the words, sincerely trusting in them,
Then closed his Bible reverently, and kissed the cover's emblem.

The tears in eyes of many there attested their emotion,
And as they left in silent prayer they felt his true devotion.

Reporters waited just outside to ask the guest a question:
"Sir, did you feel you were upstaged by such an indiscretion?"

The actor paused and scratched his chin, and thought for just a moment,
Then smiled and gave benevolently this final parting comment:

"I knew my lines, and spoke them well...My reverence was proper....
But when the old man read those words, it's plain he knows....the Author!"

By Henry Matthew Ward (c)1991

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