friday feast: james rumford’s poem for peace (calling all translators!)

Today I am honored to share a beautiful poem that was recently read aloud at the Jane Addams Peace Association Children’s Book Awards ceremony at the United Nations Plaza.

It was written by esteemed Hawaii-based author and illustrator James Rumford, and was inspired in part by a conversation he had with President Obama’s sister Maya Soetero Ng about the importance of using children’s books to promote peace. I was moved by this timeless, powerful message, words we all need to hear now more than ever.

(click to enlarge)



I wonder
how could I,
so small,
just one person,
bring peace
to this fighting world.

I might as well try
to touch the clouds
or journey to the stars
or travel to the far
corners of the globe.

Yet each time I
let raindrops fall
on my upturned face,
it is the clouds
out of reach
that touch me.

Each time I
dance in the twin-
kling night
it is the stars
so far away
that have journeyed
to meet me.

Each time I
take the first step
and go where
I’ve never
gone before,
it is the world
that opens up
to me.

Each time I
so small,
just one person,
and make a friend,
it is peace
that comes
to me.

~ Copyright © 2014 James Rumford

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Those of you familiar with Jim’s award-winning picture books know about his fervent interest in world cultures, and you might also know that he speaks at least a dozen different languages.

Wouldn’t it be too cool to translate this poem into as many languages as possible, to make it a truly global poem?


Jim has already translated “Each Time” into Hawaiian, French, Persian, Chinese and Spanish, but now he’d like your help. Anyone out there willing to translate this poem into yet another language? Can you think of anyone — friend, co-worker, relative, neighbor — who might like to give this a try?


If so, please email either me or Jim. We’d love to see this poem in German, Italian, Swedish, Swahili, Russian, Portuguese, Dutch, Greek, Hindi, Japanese, Polish, Arabic, Korean, Tagalog, Czech, Haitian Creole, Klingon, Elvish . . . 🙂


Here’s to world peace!

email addresses:

readermail (at) jamakimrattigan (dot) com

aloha (at) jamesrumford (dot) com

**Click here to read more backstory about Jim’s poem, and here to learn all about his many wonderful books.

***Please help spread the word via your social networks!!

ETA: Please check Jim’s Facebook page for updates — he’s posting new translations as he receives them. As of 11/10/14, he also has Arabic, Portuguese, Italian, Latin, and German versions covered.

*   *   *

poetryfriday180The charmingly purrfect Diane Mayr is today’s Roundup host at Random Noodling. Scamper over and check out the full menu of poetic goodies being served and slurped up in the blogosphere this week. Happy November!


Copyright © 2014 Jama Rattigan of Jama’s Alphabet Soup. All rights reserved.

58 thoughts on “friday feast: james rumford’s poem for peace (calling all translators!)

    1. Here’s to world peace, indeed! Great way to empower our youngest readers. And I have always been intrigued by translations… wish I knew other languages. Sigh. (Interestingly, our grown son’s complaint about his childhood is, “Why did you raise us bilingual?” Umm… gotta BE bilingual to do that… 🙂 Now he can learn other languages on his own! xo


      1. I always wished for the same thing. I like the idea of just naturally growing up with more than one language, hearing it spoken by native speakers, rather than learning a “foreign language” in school.


  1. How nice to see the different translations together on one page! It’s a great idea to translate one poem so that all the children of the world are speaking with one voice, if not one language.


    1. Yes, it’s a wonderful idea. I love seeing all the different languages and only wish I was proficient enough in another language to do a translation.


  2. How lovely, Jama! I’m afraid we are lacking in foreign language skills at our house, but I’ll bet my girls could translate to Ubbi-Dubbi (remember Zoom on PBS?) 🙂


  3. To my dear friend Jim, thank you. And folks, please check out his children’s books that are illustrated by Jim himself. Thank you, Jama, for being so aware of the good things on earth…and for sharing them with us.


  4. This is wonderful, Jama. I will ask several at school, & perhaps there will be someone. I will also share more than one version with students. Although they aren’t proficient enough to translate, we do have several French students. Thank you, a beautiful idea.


  5. Gorgeous poem, important message, and inspiring project, Jama! Thanks for sharing James’ poem and good luck with the translation project. I SO wish I could speak/read/write in another language. =)


    1. I feel the same. When I visited Europe for the first time years ago, I noted how it was pretty common for the average person to know at least two languages. It seems Americans are deficient in this area, sorry to say.


  6. I wonder what happens when you try to translate it with Google Translate? It would be interesting to try with the French version, just to compare how different it is. I am fascinated by poetry translating — it seems magical, in a way.


    1. Never thought of that, Tabatha. It would be interesting. I would *think* it would be a word-to-word translation, without the subtle nuances and interpretation an individual could offer. Translation is an art unto itself; I’m reminded of the work of Coleman Barks with Rumi.


  7. What a beautiful poem and post, and I hope some of the brilliant folks who frequent your blog (or at least other brilliant connections they might know?) can answer the call from you both and spread these words far and wide. Happy November!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Jama,
    This poem makes me feel like anything is possible. It is as if we just take the first step, something will come to meet us and make the following steps easier to make. It’s often true, don’t you think? Getting started is the hard part. The idea of PEACE is comforting, and these words in many languages speaks to the possibility.



  9. What a fabulous project! I’ll share your blog post with a few families in my classroom. They might want to make it a family project!

    Liked by 2 people

  10. Jama, the idea of having one global message on peace to reach so many distant lands is a wonderful idea since the message is universal. Thank you for sharing this poem that I will in turn share with teachers I work with.


    1. Peace is something we all wish for — no matter where in the world we live, and we all know how powerful words are. What better message to spread far and wide? Thanks for sharing, Carol.


  11. Who doesn’t need a peace poem?
    And who doesn’t want to see a smile coming at them?
    This should be in every classroom & school library & children’s youth dept of a library and…
    Braille would be a great language for it too. I have a coupla contacts due to a recent interview I conducted. I’ll ask if no one has already volunteered to enlist a volunteer interpreter for that.
    Brava! that the Italian is done now & all the added languages you pulled in- thanks to your wide circle of pals, Jama.
    A sweet & important post.


      1. Dear Jama,

        I well understand the issue, as I’m very slowly looking at the idea of translating a, illustrated picture book biography of mine for kiddos, into braille. There are multiple issues to understand, as you well point out – thank you!

        But, this lovely poem of world peace is much shorter than a bio.
        And I think the neat thing for the author, would be to have at least one copy of the translation in braille. And then at presentations, if he chose, he could mention that he has it for any interested in the audience. At the minimum. Once with the translation in hand, there may be a way to meld it with the lovely illustrations.

        Here is a link to an article I wrote about low-vision child readers, braille & children’s literature, which got me thinking more about this topic:

        Copy editors will note my lc for braille, which is explained in the article that has the url, above.

        Again, appreciations for your sharing of this poem. It is quite wonderful in how is opens up the huge idea of fostering world peace, while at the same time, making it feel a task approachable for all.


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