The Archive Collection

National Poetry Month: Ruth Graham’s Handwritten Poetry

April 14, 2021

Ruth Bell Graham had a lifelong love of writing.

Although she was the wife of one of the world’s most famous evangelists, self-promotion was not her motive. Since her childhood, she had used writing to release emotions that she could not express to other people.

In 1975, just before publishing her first book of poetry, “Sitting by My Laughing Fire,” she wrote to Decision magazine editor Sherwood Wirt, “I was terribly shy and diffident about these poems at first but have suddenly decided, ‘Shucks! If they express what I was going through or how I felt about what someone else was going through, it doesn’t really matter whether everybody else likes them.’”

Ruth’s longtime secretary Evelyn Freeland said, “Whenever there were requests from anyone to quote her materials, her response was always, ‘My writing is to be a ministry.’”

Ruth wrote to encourage the new Christian, the mother of the prodigal, the lost soul who hadn’t yet found the Savior—people in all walks of life.

Her poetry was practical, reflecting a life with loneliness and struggles but overflowing with trust in God. Sometimes whimsical, it often drew from the beauty of the mountains and forests surrounding her home in the Blue Ridge Mountains.

The poem below is from one of Ruth’s many notebooks where she captured her writing.

Manicured, styled,
expensively suited,
They stood
and they smiled
as if programmed, computed,
by specialists fed;
yet I knew within each
beat a heart living—dead.
The smiles were a mask;
The life styles they led at best a brave show;
pretending, not being.
And You Who created
are God, The All-seeing.

Lord, we cannot see
as You see above,
behind and within. We
only can love.

This journal is part of the private collection of Ruth Bell Graham.

Plan your visit to the Billy Graham Library today, where you can learn more about the life and ministry of Ruth Bell Graham.

What Do You Think?