|witnessing a sign of Spring's rebirth|
Photo by J. Harrington
This morning I felt overwhelmed in a very different way as I followed the 24th suggestion on how to celebrated National Poetry Month, to Watch or read Carolyn Forche’s talk “Not Persuasion, But Transport: The Poetry of Witness.” Her mention of at least two songs, Amazing Grace and the Star Spangled Banner, in the context of poetry of witness, made me think of a paragraph I read recently in Gary Snyder's The Real Work: Interviews & Talks, 1964-1979. There he's quoted as saying:
"For a book of formal poetry, Turtle Island sold quite a bit. Actually, Americans love poetry, pay huge sums of money for it, and listen to it constantly. Of course, I'm talking about song, because poetry is really song. Rock 'n' roll, ballad, and all other forms of song are really part of the sphere that, since ancient times, has been what poetry is. If you accept poetry as song, then there are plenty of songs already which are doing most of the work that poetry is supposed to do for people."That, in turn, reminded me of songs such as Nobel Laureate Bob Dylan's I Pity the Poor Immigrant, and Woody Guthrie's Plane Wreck at Los Gatos (also known as "Deportee"). Poetry, especially poetry of witness, combined with music, can, perhaps, do more to soften a hard, human heart than even kittens or puppies. There is no doubt in my mind that we are living in days when we are in ever-growing need of hearts less hardened by exposure to
Arriving at last It has stumbled across the harsh Stones, the black marshes. True to itself, by what craft And strength it has, it has come As a sole survivor returns From the steep pass. Carved on memory’s staff The legend is nearly decipherable. It has lived up to its vows If it endures The journey through the dark places To bear witness, Casting its message In a sort of singing.
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