Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The Gate of the Year

I first heard about this poem after watching the award-winning film, The King's Speech, and determined to remember it for posting during National Poetry Month.

And I said to the man who stood at the gate of the year: “Give me a light that I may tread safely into the unknown.”

And he replied:
“Go out 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.”

So I went forth, and finding the Hand of God, trod gladly into the night. And He led me towards the hills and the breaking of day in the lone East.

So heart bestill:
What need our little life
Our human life to know,
If God hath comprehension?
In all the dizzy strife
Of things both high and low,
God hideth His intention.

God knows. His will
Is best. The stretch of years
Which wind ahead, so dim
To our imperfect vision,
Are clear to God. Our fears
Are premature; In Him,
All time hath full provision.

Then rest: until
God moves to lift the veil
From our impatient eyes,
When, as the sweeter features
Of Life’s stern face we hail,
Fair beyond all surmise
God’s thought around His creatures
Our mind shall fill.

by Minnie Haskins
English Academic
1875 - 1957

The poem, published in 1908, was part of a collection titled The Desert. It caught the public attention and the popular imagination, when Queen Elizabeth handed a copy to her husband, King George VI, and he quoted it in his 1939 Christmas broadcast to the British Empire.

The poem was widely acclaimed as inspirational, reaching its first mass audience in the early days of the Second World War. Its words remained a source of comfort to the Queen for the rest of her life, and she had its words engraved on brass plaques and fixed to the gates of the King George VI Memorial Chapel at Windsor Castle, where the King was interred. Queen Elizabeth was also buried here in 2002, and the words of "The Gate of the Year" were read out at her state funeral.


  1. I like that but I don't remember it from the movie -- when was it used?

  2. The film's finale is the broadcast of King George VI's 1939 radio speech.

    While we do not hear the entire speech,(factually the address was delivered in December and the film *ends* before that), I believe we hear the opening lines of the poem.

    A friend sent me a link to the entire poem and I thought it was worth saving.

  3. spent some time trying to find a video clip and cant ;-(

    maybe it's not in the movie after all.... I will email my friend.