Stunning and severe. I would expect nothing less of the influential poet and essayist Adrienne Rich (1929-) who turned down the 1997 National Medal of the Arts because she believed ”the very meaning of art, as I understand it, is incompatible with the cynical politics of this Administration.”
“Art, she said, ”means nothing if it simply decorates the dinner-table of power which holds it hostage.”
only wild and wavering
I wanted to choose words that even you
would have to be changed by
Take the word
of my pulse, loving and ordinary
Send out your signals, hoist
your dark scribbled flags
All wars are useless to the dead
My hands are knotted in the rope
and I cannot sound the bell
My hands are frozen to the switch
and I cannot throw it
The foot is in the wheel
When all is over and we’re lying
in a stubble of blistered flowers
eyes gaping, mouths staring
dusted with crushed arterial blues
barred with tiger-lily reds
I’ll have done nothing
even for you
I’ve posted this W.S. Merwin poem before, but I think it’s appropriate for today. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving, everybody.
with the night falling we are saying thank you
we are stopping on the bridges to bow from the railings
we are running out of the glass rooms
with our mouths full of food to look at the sky
and say thank you
we are standing by the water thanking it
smiling by the windows looking out
in our directions
back from a series of hospitals back from a mugging
after funerals we are saying thank you
after the news of the dead
whether or not we knew them we are saying thank you
over telephones we are saying thank you
in doorways and in the backs of cars and in elevators
remembering wars and the police at the door
and the beatings on stairs we are saying thank you
in the banks we are saying thank you
in the faces of the officials and the rich
and of all who will never change
we go on saying thank you thank you
with the animals dying around us
our lost feelings we are saying thank you
with the forests falling faster than the minutes
of our lives we are saying thank you
with the words going out like cells of a brain
with the cities growing over us
we are saying thank you faster and faster
with nobody listening we are saying thank you
we are saying thank you and waving
dark though it is
A firm and yet startlingly tender piece from the Pulitzer Prize-winning confessional poet, Anne Sexton (1928-1974).
“From the Garden”
Come, my beloved,
consider the lilies.
We are of little faith.
We talk too much.
Put your mouthful of words away
and come with me to watch
the lilies open in such a field,
growing there like yachts,
slowly steering their petals
without nurses or clocks.
Let us consider the view:
a house where white clouds
decorate the muddy halls.
Oh, put away your good words
and your bad words. Spit out
your words like stones!
Come here! Come here!
Come eat my pleasant fruits.