Skip to main content

Living with ALS: Poems of great riches for spring rebirth

Written By | Apr 22, 2019

CHARLOTTE, NC,:  Easter week, the unofficial start to spring for many, is a time for reflection. A time of rebirth and renewal, a time when darkness yields to the light and a time when Christians celebrate the very core of their faith.

It’s nothing new, of course, the same words have echoed throughout the centuries for 2,000 years.

Long before I was diagnosed with ALS, I happened to come across two powerfully poignant poems at different times, of course, that, for me at least, changed my life.

Much like contemporary art, poetry is subjective at best, and for many of us comprehending its meaning can often leave us befuddled. The poems I discovered are easy to understand however and, in their own unique way, capture the essence of Easter.

The Richest Man

The first by Merrit Malloy is but six simple lines, but there’s magic in the nuances of her words.

Born in September, 1950 in Pennsylvania, Merrit Malloy was well known for her love poems, but in this instance, she tells the story of a poor man who never knew it.

He was the richest man I ever knew.
He didn’t have a dime.
He didn’t know what he didn’t have So He didn’t care that he didn’t have it.
They didn’t know he didn’t know So They didn’t care that he didn’t care.
They thought he was poor because he lived in a tent in the woods.
He thought they were poor because they didn’t.

The Touch of the Master’s Hand

The second poem written in 1921 by Myra Brooks Welch is the longer of the pair. Myra Brooks Welch of La Verne, California grew up in a music-loving family.

Myra also loved poetry. So much so that her friends called her “The poet with the singing soul.”

One evening while attending a lecture to a group of students, Myra became captivated by the speaker’s message and, as she put it, “became filled with light.”

The words were so powerful that she wrote a poem that took just 30 minutes to compose.

Believing it was a gift from God, Myra anonymously sent the poem to her church hoping it would be printed in the bulletin the following Sunday. Not only was the poem published, as if by magic, during a day when social media and the internet did not exits, but its popularity also spread throughout the country.

‘Twas battered and scarred,
And the auctioneer thought it
hardly worth his while
To waste his time on the old violin,
but he held it up with a smile.
“What am I bid, good people”, he cried,
“Who starts the bidding for me?”
“One dollar, one dollar, Do I hear two?”
“Two dollars, who makes it three?”
“Three dollars once, three dollars twice, going for three,”
But, No,
From the room far back a gray bearded man
Came forward and picked up the bow,
Then wiping the dust from the old violin
And tightening up the strings,
He played a melody, pure and sweet
As sweet as the angel sings.
The music ceased and the auctioneer
With a voice that was quiet and low,
Said “What now am I bid for this old violin?”
As he held it aloft with its bow.
“One thousand, one thousand, Do I hear two?”
“Two thousand, Who makes it three?”
“Three thousand once, three thousand twice,
Going and gone”, said he.
The audience cheered,
But some of them cried,
“We just don’t understand.”
“What changed its worth?”
Swift came the reply.
“The Touch of the Masters Hand.”
And many a man with life out of tune
All battered with bourbon and gin
Is auctioned cheap to a thoughtless crowd
Much like that old violin
A mess of pottage, a glass of wine,
A game and he travels on.
He is going once, he is going twice,
He is going and almost gone.
But the Master comes,
And the foolish crowd never can quite understand,
The worth of a soul and the change that is wrought
By the Touch of the Masters’ Hand.

During this week of celebration 2019, may each you share your riches and be truly blessed by the touch of the Master’s hand.

About the Author:

Bob Taylor is a veteran writer who has traveled throughout the world. Taylor was an award winning television producer/reporter/anchor before focusing on writing about international events, people and cultures around the globe.

Taylor is founder of The Magellan Travel Club (

Read more of What in the World and Bob Taylor at Communities Digital News

Read more of Bob’s journeys with ALS and his travels around the world

Editors Note: Support Bob’s GoFundMe to give him a hand up

Follow Bob on TwitterFacebook 

Bob Taylor

Bob Taylor has been travel writer for more than three decades. Following a career as an award winning sports producer/anchor, Taylor’s media production business produced marketing presentations for Switzerland Tourism, Rail Europe, the Finnish Tourist Board, Japan Railways Group, the Swedish Travel & Tourism Council and the Swiss Travel System among others. He is founder of The Magellan Travel Club ( and his goal is to visit 100 countries or more during his lifetime.