He who Was Beloved


Photo by Antonio Molinari on Unsplash

He who Was Beloved

According to namesake,
I am the fair-haired
male child of he
who was beloved
by Jehovah.

At first blush,
my birth name feels
amusingly ironic to this

middle-aged agnostic
who avoids most religions,

especially the catholic one
that informed his childhood.

I am the fourth to carry
the rather singular mantle
of this rather common English name

partially derived from
Irish and Hebrew origin,

two lineages whose people have known
countless historical hardships
beyond their control
and sometimes comprehension.

I’ve no known earthly history
on how the first of my name
received his – no
our name,

no scrapbook,
no word-of-mouth lineage,

no photographs, save for
the second to carry our line
as he spearheaded
the Korean campaign before
succumbing to frostbite.

The man staring back
across monochrome grasslands
from three score ago
looks nothing like dad and me;

it’s possible that
all he ever gifted us
was his given name,

as there are no shifting sands to dig through,
excavating our eternally lost lineage.

Between the second,
his son the third, and
the grandson he never met,

there was never
a single fair-hair
among us.

Perhaps the first of our name
was a fair-haired, spear-wielding
son of he who Yah favored.

Perhaps the first was
the son of a slave – no, or
even slave-master

who really was God’s darling favorite,
spearheading the farming of
broken brown bodies through
fertile red Mississippi delta mud.

But I often wonder
what our names would have been
had our legacies not been so muddled;

had our culture’s course not been dominated
by forces beyond our control
and even comprehension.

My namesake felt
amusingly ironic
at first.

But now
I guess it’s as apt
as any other moniker

bestowed lovingly
one by one

by he who reached across decades,

lighting the wick of each nameless brown infant
reminding each new keeper of the flame
how fortunate he is
to be so beloved.

Written for dVerse Poetics: What’s in a Name?, hosted by Amaya, and shared at Real Toads The Tuesday Platform. Others contributed to this prompt here.

My name is Barry Dawson Jr. IV. Barry either means fair-headed, or sharp and spear-like, depending on which Gaelic historian you ask. Dawson means “son of Dawe”, which is shortened from David, which is Hebrew for “beloved of Jehovah”.

29 thoughts on “He who Was Beloved

  1. I learnt such a lot from your poem and narrative – that Dawson is a form of David. we do wonder how names come to be and why they are passed down, it does connect the generations in a way

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This was an interesting reverie…….so much of our history is lost over time, which we begin to wonder about as we grow older. Your lineage sounds rich with history, Barry. It might be worth checking ancestry.com. there are likely amazing stories there. One of my dad’s ancestors was one of the first Fathers of Confederation here in Canada and he was assassinated.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m glad you liked it.

      Umi translates to mother in Arabic. He also references his father (Abi) and grandfather (Jiddo) in the song.

      Thanks for visiting me. 😊


  3. What an interesting read into the passing down of your name Barry~ So much time has passed, that we do wonder how the original namesake lived and looked in those times. Thanks for sharing and wishing you a good week.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Wow, wow. This is epic, as it should be, given the vastness of subject. I think repeating your “beyond control and comprehension” line is super-effective in this and really appreciate the reflection on the ironies and history. Beautiful, painful, joyous, confusing, all of it.


  5. Magnificent. A thoughtful and beautiful reflection, how a life with progenitors passing through crucibles of war, bondage, hardship, “muddled” heritage, all converged, like a tip of a spear, to give us… you. There is indeed a Grace in considering our origins, and in strengthening loving, rather than oppressive, bonds between us – encompassing us writ large and small and forward and backward, truly a turning of the hearts of the children to the fathers and the hearts of the fathers to the children, without which, apparently this whole enterprise is a waste, POINTLESS even. Thank you and your family for this Barry, beloved of God.
    💜ed this! Working through this prompt trail a little late, but it has been a great one,

    Liked by 1 person

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