by Peg (Mary L.) Penry (1917-2011)
Weep not, dear friend,
For one who’s gone in death;
Ah, this is not the end,
For life is but a breath
That God breathed into man,
And then He made a soul
To outlive life’s short span–
The grave is not its goal.
Weep not, dear friend,
Nor bow your head in grief;
Remember, hearts will mend,
And years on earth are brief.
Someday He’ll look down and see
You’re tired and need to sleep,
Then together you’ll be for eternity,
So dear friend, do not weep.
Peg Penry, whose husband was in the US Air Force, traveled with him around the world at his different stations throughout his career. Wherever they went, she hosted radio and television shows about poetry. During Vietnam, the wife of a deployed soldier took a copy of one of her poems and mailed it in a letter to her husband, who had “lost faith while he was in Vietnam because of all the stuff he saw there.” But after reading Peg’s poem, he took it to the chaplain, who made copies and handed it out to all the troops serving in the unit (The Capitol Journal). There are many other stories about her influence, and I know she touched my life. I would post the picture of her that was published in her local newspaper, but she told me she hated it, and she might hate any picture I’d post.
She published in total five books of poetry:
- Autumn Leaves (1972)
- Moods and Meditations (1974)
- Barefoot on the Beach (1976)
- Echoes (1979)
- Wings (2009) (This last book is a compilation of all her religious poetry pulled from her previous four books and consolidated with a few new religious poems. It was the last thing she believed she had left to do before going home.)
I had the honor and privilege of getting to know the wonderful author of this poem during the few years our time overlapped as members of the same church. My father, an elder of the church, introduced me to her when she was a widow and a shut-in as my poetic interests and skills were young and burgeoning. She was full of energy and wit and excited to see an upcoming poet who she could invest into. I was young and ignorant and in many ways narcissistic, and I did not take advantage of the time with her as much as I could have. She moved away a few years later to be closer to her own surviving family, and I dropped off my writing letters to her eventually as I got busy with my own life and college education, but she never forgot me. I thank God for her, and I look forward to seeing her again one day among the poets of heaven. Until then, I have her wisdom stored in her poetry, all five books.
Anderson, Phil. “Topeka woman, 92, still a poet.” The Topeka Capitol Journal, 6 Nov 2009, https://www.cjonline.com/article/20091106/LIFESTYLE/311069692. Accessed 18 Jun 2021.