It must be quite something to have your work quoted by royalty. No, it hasn’t happened to me – yet. Queen Elizabeth II, in one famous speech said, ‘1992 is not a year on which I shall look back with undiluted pleasure.’ What masterful understatement. One of her ‘more sympathetic correspondents’ had called it an ‘Annus Horribilis’ and the Queen used that phrase in her speech. I imagine her unnamed correspondent might have been amazed to be quoted.

How did Minnie Haskins feel when King George V quoted her poem, The Gate of the Year, in his 1939 Christmas Message at the beginning of World War 2? Minnie Haskins was born in 1875 and died in 1957, decades before the Queen’s Annus Horribilis speech. The poet had a suggested answer to the uncertainties and difficult times of life and particularly to the unknown future that individuals, families, members of a nation and, now, participants of a global village, face.

I’ve seen Minnie Haskins’ poem quoted more at the beginning of this year than I remember seeing it in previous years. Is our world in a more precarious place than before? Are people more frightened of the future? There is no surer way to negotiate the unknown pathway of each day in this new year and new decade than to put our hand into God’s hand. Thank you, Minnie Haskins, for that reminder.

I said to the man who stood at the gate of the year,
‘Give me a light that I may tread into the unknown.’
And he replied,
‘Go into the darkness
and put your hand into the hand of God.
That shall be to you better than light
and safer than a known way.’


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