I am pleased to pick for the month of March a book that has no rival in American literature (at least to me) entitled Come My Beloved by Pearl. S. Buck. If you have read the book, then you will most likely agree with me it is a magnum opus of fictional creation; sustained from the first page to the very last.

I came across Come My Beloved many years ago and will forever bless the day. The book has magic that is found only in the ink of geniuses, a sustained piece of exotic story.  To start, the title is taken from a line in Songs of Solomon, the ultimate love song and the storyline follows this theme. It is a book about love- love for a woman, for one’s country, for God and the complexities that arises from such sacred love. Pierce S. Buck left an artistic testament that Americans will always treasure and celebrate whenever great works of fiction are the occasion.

The book opens in India- the pre-independent India where a shroud American financier had come on vacation after losing his wife. He came with his only son to this ancient nation and got to be appalled by her level of poverty, which he attributed to their religion. To correct what he felt was an injustice in nature, David Mackard decided to build a school to educate Indians about Western philosophy; believing that if Indians should change their ways of thinking, then their nation would modernize.

This idea was to be the cornerstone of Mackard’s imprint in India- concretized with the financier’s son’ emigration to India, against his father’s wish, to establish a school of theology in India rooted in Western values. This act of defiance was contrasted with India’s own clamor for independence from Britain, which Pearl S. Buck dramatized with an Indian character through whom the grand quality in Indian culture is explored. You need to read the book to feel these cultural synergies at play and then marvel at the author’s genius to have created this context that today almost seemed prophetic.

See, I can’t talk too much about Come My Beloved. It is better experienced personally. But of all climaxes in the book, the best to me was a scene in which David (the son) went to the woods to meditate one evening and heard a farmer singing. I think the song went like this:

Till my heart,

O Beloved as I am tilling this land,

And make me yours (sic)

   Till today I am still moved by this song. It is a line from the heart of a genius that I will always treasure. America’s greatness is expressed in a lot of things grand in the 20th Century but to me Come My Beloved is the ultimate expression of our greatness. The spirit of the book is the same today driving the Peace Corps and missionaries who travel out of the States to enlighten the world.

Like Pearl, I believe you are not fully American until you have seen other worlds and can then appreciate what your country is. Explore. Travel. Evangelize. And then you can pontificate to lead the world. See you next month.

Rosalie Banks

Author, Teacher, Naughty-Girl


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