Advocate Editorial Board opinion: Goodbye to a true wordsmith of Victoria
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Words are powerful things. As journalists, we see this every day. And we love to see the way people can use words to convey everything from love and joy to tragedy and sorrow.
So we were sad to hear of the passing of Mildred Vorpahl Baass, of Victoria, who was the poet laureate of Texas from 1993 to 1995. Baass was a talented writer who wrote truths about life and the people who live it. Her daughter, Nancy Baass, often accompanied her as she traveled across Texas and the United States. Nancy Baass said her mother loved humor, such as the tongue-in-cheek tone of her short poem "Happy Hour Thought," which took first place in the Poetry Society of Oklahoma Award:
"Wouldn't it be nice if the fellow
Who carried on his shoulder a chip
Carried on his other shoulder
A bowl of guacamole dip?"
But she also had a serious, reflective side to her, and the words she used to express this rang true with many who enjoyed her poems year after year. And now that she's gone, we know her talent and loving personality will be missed by all who knew her. And we can think of no tribute more fitting than saying goodbye in Baass' own words:
"I feel a kinship with the coyotes
That chorus from ridge to ridge
In their need to speak with one of their own;
And like the wolf that climb a ledge
To wail his cry to a silvery moon,
I know the frustration that drives him there
To escape the desolation below.
I see skeins of geese in a slate-gray sky
And ache for the lone straggler,
Trying frantically to catch up,
Not wanting to be left behind;
And I empathize with its beating heart.
The yodeling of loons on a moon-struck lake
Touches me with its longing -
Oh, I know the feeling well.
Loneliness is being in uniform, far from home,
And not hearing your name called at Mail Call,
While others are happily reaching for letters.
It is seeing a solitary house with a lighted window,
From the window of a slow-moving night-train,
And being overwhelmed with envy
For the occupants sharing its warmth.
It is wishing your loved one could share
The glory of a color-splashed sunrise,
Or the beauty of a star-studded night,
And realizing the futility of the wish.
It is being in a crowded room,
Where the noisy chatter echoes the emptiness in you,
For your beloved it not there,
And cannot ever be."
This editorial reflects the views of the Victoria Advocate's editorial board.