The Dash

"The Dash" originally was an essay written by Alton Maiden, a former Notre Dame student and football player under famed coach Lou Holtz. Coach Holtz first read the composition to his players in 1996 at a team meeting. I have taken the liberty to revise and rewrite the composition as an iambic pentametric poem. It has a very thought-provoking message.

I've seen death’s stare in a way that many cannot know.
I've seen death claim and others take but still left me below.
I've heard the wails of mothers’ cries but death refused to hear.
I've seen a face contort with grief and eyes great wells of tears.

Once death has come and pain has gone a tombstone sits to see.
But it’s no more than a symbol of a person's memory.
I've seen my share of tombstones but took not the time to heed
The meaning behind what is there for everyone to read.

The person's name is clearly shown and the date of birth we see.
Past the dash we read the date the soul met eternity.
The date of birth and the date of death we read in but a flash.
What tells us most about a life is what’s within the dash.

A person’s name, the face, the eyes, in time we cease to see.
Even the dates of birth and death from our recollections flee.
But in the dash, the simple dash, are the memories that last.
The life, the loves, the joys and aches of a soul so quickly passed.

When you begin to chart your life avoid the path most rash.
Your birth and death will quickly dim, but forever lives your