Ruth, Tears, and Alien Corn

One of my favorite books in the Bible is the Book of Ruth.  Laura and I read it to each other last night through the inevitable tears that spring from me when I contemplate the story of family devotion and divine providence.   This book is also an inspiration for some of my favorite lines of poetry, found in the latter verse of John Keats’ Ode to a Nightingale (text of poem):

The voice I hear this passing night was heard
In ancient days by emperor and clown:
Perhaps the self-same song that found a path
Through the sad heart of Ruth, when, sick for home,
She stood in tears amid the alien corn;

I think often of Keats’ image of Ruth when I think of the journeys to foreign lands that my parents — and I — have made, when we too have been “sick for home, … [standing] in tears amid the alien corn.”