Thursday, February 15, 2018

Poetry Friday - Deciding How We Care

           Jone MacCullough at Check It Out hosts our PoetryFriday this week. I imagine she'll be sharing the Cybils Poetry winner and perhaps others who were honored, too. You can find them all here. Thanks for hosting, Jone! 



            As I searched for some poetry to share today, for comfort in a time of terrible loss, I found a poem from a book written in 2004 by Edward Brunner, Cold War Poetry. I only read a few pages, admit I am not an expert on the entire book's premise and full content. Yet this particular part touched me. He writes: Yet poets in the 1950s in fact did write poems that set out to do precisely that which Lowell deemed to be the quintessential response to the bomb--to be a shield for their child. That is, poets in surprising numbers wrote pieces in which their primary role was not to speak in the voice of the professional or the sober analyst or the civic-minded intellectual but in the voice of the parent or the parent-surrogate whose very poem was being extended as an offering to a child as if it could be an act of sheltering. In none of these poems is the Bomb ever mentioned directly. But the extent to which a poem must include a direct reference to the Bomb in order to evoke its presence is always a problematic feature of poems about the Bomb. Consider Hyam Plutzik's six-line poem. . .which accomplishes its task nicely without mentioning the Bomb.

              It was a time of stress during this time of the Cold War, but as children, we felt sheltered, taken care of. I wonder if we can say the same of children today? Here is Hyam Plutzik's poem:

And in the 51st Year of that Century, while My
Brother Cried in the Trench, while My Enemy 
                     Glared from the Cave

This star is only an augury of the morning,

Gift-bearer of another day.

A wind has brought the musk of thirty fields,

Each like a coin of silver under that sky.

Precious, the soundless breathing of wife and children

In a house on a field lit by the morning star. 

45 comments:

  1. Precious, indeed. Definitely a time to hold those we love best so very close. Thank you, Linda. xo

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    1. You're welcome, Irene. It did touch me last night, that reference to the responsibility we have to our children.

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  2. The country needs poetry "for comfort in a time of terrible loss", as you say, Linda. May we move forward learning from this new tragedy.

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    1. Wishing that we will do something to help. Thanks, Carol.

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  3. I love the imagery of the last two line! Nice poetry selection.

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    1. Thanks, they are important, I agree.

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  4. Wow, Linda, good selection. This is life--good & bad, beautiful and horrible--simultaneous. Give thanks for the good. Strive against the bad. And peace to us all.

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    1. Thank you, yes, life, but children can only know the good for as long as possible.

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  5. Thank you, Linda, for sharing poetry that does offer comfort in such a time of loss. We are in sore need of comfort--and I will continue to look for ways to provide shelter and protection to the children in my community.

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    1. You're welcome, Kay. I know we all will strive to do so.

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  6. Thank you for the excerpt and the poem -- much needed this week. It's true what you say about the Cold War -- as a child I was aware of it yet didn't feel directly threatened in my everyday life at school. I think children today are experiencing something no other generation has experienced before. Who would have ever imagined one could get killed by a fellow classmate?

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    1. You're welcome! I do know we were aware of the Soviet Union & its alarming strength, especially after the war ending, but don't remember being scared either, Jama. My grandson has already had one credible threat this school year, thought it turned out okay. But they did have to walk out with hands over heads and be searched. It was very scary for him, others & his parents. My granddaughters seem to take the drills as if they're like tornadoes. I don't know what will happen when they learn what has happened in the past.

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  7. Heartbreaking. And then the sound of no breathing... Much love, Linda. x

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    1. Thanks, Amy. It's been a terrible few days & I am so sad about the loss in that high school.

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  8. I have been heartened by the reports of student survivors speaking out to say, "You adults need to protect us better." I feel like something might possibly change...I hope I am not being overly optimistic.

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    1. I am hopeful, too, Tabatha, we must at least try to curb the violence. Thanks!

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  9. So much in so few lines. Thank you, Linda...

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    1. You're welcome, Laura. I was glad to find this.

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  10. I love the idea of a poem as shelter. It makes so much sense. And, right now, it feels so needed. Thank you for sharing this poem-- what a difference a title makes.

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    1. You're welcome, and I agree, the title illuminates quite a bit.

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  11. Beautiful and touching, these last two lines,
    "Precious, the soundless breathing of wife and children
    In a house on a field lit by the morning star."
    wraps around you and makes you safe, thanks Linda!

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    1. You're welcome, Michelle, and to me, that seems as it should be.

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  12. Poetry speaks so much that we just really don't know how to say. This poem is full of those lines between the lines, as we breathe out a sigh.

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    1. I'm glad you like it, Margaret. It certainly spoke to me. Thanks!

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  13. I have to constantly remind myself that there is more good than evil in this world. The contrast between the title of the poem and the poem itself totally exemplifies my struggle.

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    1. Yes, perhaps he was thinking of that, too? Thanks, Mary Lee.

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  14. I was at an absolute loss as to what to share this Friday for comfort. You have provided what I was looking for. Thank you.

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    1. You're welcome, Linda. I was fortunate to find this. It meant a lot to me, too.

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  15. I am heartened by the fact that students in FL are already speaking out. With conviction and eloquence. They will lead us out of darkness.

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    1. I'm hopeful, too, Diane. Glad you feel the same.

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  16. My mother remembers atomic bomb drills in her elementary school, and how terrified she was that the Russians were going to blow up her town. How terrible for children of any age or in any community to have to take these kinds of precautions. Here's praying that we one day create a world in which children can go to school without having to be afraid.

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    1. I hope so, too, Jane. We had drills, but somehow I guess I believed the teachers that I would be safe under my desk. We know now that's silly, but it worked for us. Thanks!

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  17. I confess, I'm relieved that my kids are both in high school now, so I don't have to struggle to explain what's happening in the world in a way that a young child can digest. It's hard enough greeting each day with love, kindness, and honesty, and providing an ear and a shoulder when needed.

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    1. Yes, I know. Ingrid and Imogene appear to take the drills as a matter of what they're to do, like tornado drills. So far, they do not seem aware of these tragedies, but it won't be long. Ingrid is in 3rd grade & already a worrier. I am sorry for everyone with children of any age, a terrible time. Good to hear from you, Michelle.

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  18. Ugh. Even from afar, the news is gut wrenchingly heart breaking. Thanks for this poetic ray of hope, Linda. =)

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    1. You're welcome, Bridget. I can't imagine what it must look like from where you are.

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  19. I don't think I felt safe as a Cold War child. I remember the drills we went through and trying to figure out how high a priority our city would be if we were attacked. But this poem is reassuring and I especially love the last two lines.

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    1. Thanks for telling your experience, Liz. I imagine each of us had different experiences. I'm glad you enjoyed the poem.

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  20. Those last two lines, especially when contrasted with the title, are powerfully moving. Thank you for sharing this poem.

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  21. Wow, just wow. This is a keeper poem and perfect for the events of this week. And it feels like we are waging a cold war on gun violence.

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    1. I'm glad you liked what I found, Jone. I have so much to read, but would love to read this particular book by Brunner. It has been praised in the the reviews. Thanks!

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  22. Hi Linda, some days it feels like the gun companies are waging war on us, consumer by consumer, selling lies and false promises. Yet we must find poetry, because that is what we do.

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