[My Dear Father]
My Dear Father,
In offering to you a gift compiled from the ravellings of my own uneasy brain, I would not willingly be accused, in your mind, of that ugliest of human faults, egotism. Rather than to challenge your admiration of any production within the compass of my power, I intend to challenge your sympathy with the bias of my mind. And to whom, sooner than to yourself, should I look for such a sympathy? In my earliest childhood it was your voice that taught my thoughts to run in the traces of rhyme and rhythm. It was your conversation that woke my heart to the conception and the support of noble principles and beliefs. And if, later, I have grasped, often falteringly, at the noblest and holiest principles of all, — the faith and love of Christ, — even here your quick power of appreciating truth, and your biting scorn of saintly-clothed falsehood, have been often intense prompters to the hidden life that ferments in mine, as in every other soul. At every time, and in all things, you have been an unspotted benison to me. You have been the means of giving a rose-color of happiness to my lot. To you I owe the tendency to earnestness of character, which I value as an unpriced jewel. By your tenderness my life-path has been soft as if I had trod on velvet sward. My years have had stormless summers and frostless winters; and the seed that has been sown in my soul was good and not unnurtured.
Wherefore, more in grateful acknowledgment of gratitude and love, than in return for benefits that could never be priced, do I bring to your feet such few wild flowers as have sprung up in the fields that were cultivated by your hands, albeit you little felt or recognised your own labors.
December 25th, 1866.
Menie Parkes, Poems, F. Cunninghame, Sydney, , pages iii-iv
benison = a blessing, a benediction (a bestowing of good wishes, especially in a religious context)
sward = a lawn or meadow; land covered with grass
[Editor: Corrected “rythm” to “rhythm”.]