‘Twas battered and scarred, and the auctioneer thought it scarcely worth his while
to waste much time on the old violin, but held it up with a smile;
"What am I bidden, good folks," he cried, "Who'll start the bidding for me?
A dollar, a dollar; then two! Only two? Two dollars, and who'll make it three?
"Three dollars, once; three dollars twice; going for three..." But no; from the room, far back, a gray-haired man came forward and picked up the bow. Then, wiping the dust from the old violin, and tightening the loose strings, he played a melody pure and sweet as a caroling angel sings.
The music ceased, and the auctioneer, with a voice that was quiet and low, said; "What am I bid for the old violin?" And he held it up with the bow. A thousand dollars, and who'll make it two? Two thousand! And who'll make it three? Three thousand, once, three thousand, twice, and going and gone," said he.
The people cheered, but some of them cried, "We do not quite understand what changed its worth." Swift came the reply: "The touch of a master's hand."
And many a man with life out of tune, and battered and scarred with sin, is auctioned cheap to the thoughtless crowd, much like the old violin. A "mess of pottage," a glass of wine; a game - and he travels on. "He is going" once, and "going twice, He's 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's wrought by the touch of the Master's hand.
Poem by Myra 'Brooks' Welch
Credited and edited from source.
Wikipedia has a nice, concise article reviewing the point of this poetry. See source.
I can relate to this poem! I can especially relate to people not truly knowing a violin’s worth. When I had my first full-size violin stolen (see Theft and Other Lessons post), I couldn’t help but assume the thieves most likely pawned it somewhere for less than $100, even though it was a handmade instrument selected with care and worth thousands! This violin had seen me through some significant musical experiences over fifteen years, including my job playing for a summer at a theme park, a performance at Carnegie Hall, a trip to Europe to play with a collegiate orchestra there, CD recordings, auditions for grad school, concerts with celebrated world-famous musicians, a plethora of personal and meaningful practice sessions, and solo performances for hundreds.
It had been played A LOT. Admired by audition committees and appreciated by its owner. (Those who invest any serious amount of time into stringed instrument performance know from personal experience that there’s a special relationship between the player and their instrument. The wood almost takes on a persona. Think about the toys in Toy Story that come to life, and you’ll just about have it right.) The more love you pour into it, the more it mellows and improves over time.
Yet, most likely, my violin is now sitting, gathering dust in the closet of a high school student who is under the impression it’s a cheap violin their grandma found for them under the best of intentions, hoping they’d play it—but they’re really not that into it. They can’t possibly treat it the way I once did. And they have no idea the blood, sweat and tears that went into playing it once. (Though that’s more a figure of speech than anything, I did have a teacher once who admitted to practicing until her fingers bled; and I definitely shed plenty of tears on that particular violin, so it’s actually not that far off. . . ).
Knowing all this makes me appreciate how God views us, even when we don’t know our own worth. The poem seems to suggest that we not underestimate any of our global brothers and sisters, no matter how mediocre they may initially seem. I wholeheartedly agree! A violin isn’t just wood any more than a human being is just a collection of skin, blood, and bone! Both are instruments of spirit.
I like to apply the principle in this poem personally as well, realizing that in addition to appreciating others, I should also respect my own person more. We know so little about our capacity and history before this lifetime, or our potential in the hereafter, when the cares of life are suddenly gone. Someday, we’ll each have more answers, less worries, and more joy. Until then, there’s always violin music to help us through.
Happy Mother’s Day weekend!