Thursday, June 14, 2018

Finding The Words I Need

         Poetry Friday is hosted by Karen Edmisten this week, at her blog of the same name! Thanks, Karen! And thanks for sharing the wonderful poems of love!

       For more than a year much of the news has been bleak. For over a year, nearly every day there is still another event that for me and some people in the U.S., even the world, has produced outrage. It's been a tough time and continues to be.

       I discovered this book from someone's recommendation although I don't remember who so I can say thanks. It's been a delight to read the poems within, so many celebrate life while others decry situations. It is worth reading bit by bit, poem by poem, re-reading favorites you've bookmarked.

         I was delighted seeing the numerous poets, poems and some quotes included, like  "Praise The Mutilated World" by Adam Zagajewski, also known as the 9-11 poet, translated by Clare Cavanagh, "Dover Beach" by Matthew Arnold, "Good Bones" by Maggie Smith, "Refugees" by Brian Bilston and "Barter" by Sara Teasdale, a most favorite of mine. Life does have loveliness to sell!
        I know you'll recognize "Kindness" by Naomi Shihab Nye, "The Peace of Wild Things" by Wendell Berry and "Still I Rise" by Maya Angelou. If you cannot find the book, enjoy these words I've shared. We can stand on and with them, can we not? 

       Here is one more favorite that speaks loud to me at this time in our history:


Ella Wheeler Wilcox

To sin by silence, when we should protest,
Makes cowards out of men. The human race
Has climbed on protest. Had no voice been raised
Against injustice, ignorance, and lust,
The inquisition yet would serve the law,
And guillotines decide our least disputes.
The few who dare, must speak and speak again
To right the wrongs of many. Speech, thank God,
No vested power in this great day and land
Can gag or throttle. Press and voice may cry
Loud disapproval of existing ills;
May criticise oppression and condemn
The lawlessness of wealth-protecting laws
That let the children and childbearers toil
To purchase ease for idle millionaires.
Therefore I do protest against the boast
Of independence in this mighty land.
Call no chain strong, which holds one rusted link.
Call no land free, that holds one fettered slave.
Until the manacled slim wrists of babes
Are loosed to toss in childish sport and glee,
Until the mother bears no burden, save
The precious one beneath her heart, until
God’s soil is rescued from the clutch of greed
And given back to labor, let no man
Call this the land of freedom.
          And toward the end of the book: 
"There is a crack in everything.  That's how the light gets in." 
Leonard Cohen


  1. Thanks Linda, for sharing this strong and much needed poem–and where it came from, "How Lovely the Ruins," I'm looking forward to spending some time with it. "let no man
    Call this the land of freedom." such a powerful line–I was at my daughter's High School graduation tonight and we said the pledge and sang, and it made me wonder about out our present day freedoms.

    Thanks too for that gorgeous line by Leonard Cohen.

  2. Oh, my goodness. This, to use a term of the young people these days, slays me. I remember Mary Lee describing the day after the election as sitting on a chair, head held between her knees trying to find a sense of calm. It still feels that way! I'm so distraught over not only what is happening but how it is being allowed. I have family members that are in agreement with what's going on and I feel so powerless against all that is wrong. I absolutely do need this book. I'm bookmarking this so I can get it. Thank you for this post.It feels a bit like finding what I needed in the first aid kit.

  3. Ella Wheeler Wilcox isn't playing around, is she? Good pick, Linda. Brian Bilcox's Refugees brought a tear to my eye. It's such an emotional time. (Your Poetry Friday logo made me think of my Art Thursday post this week -- all about clover!)

  4. I look forward to reading this book, "How Lovely the Ruins," one day, especially as I saw on FB that there is an effort afoot to write a kids biography of the current incumbent, praising his rise.

  5. This sounds like a perfect book. Thanks for sharing it.

  6. I was surprised -- and delighted! -- by how much white space there was in this book. Lovely ruins, indeed. Thank you, Linda. xo

  7. I'm going to look for this book. I think we all need some words of inspiration right now.

  8. Linda, this line in the poem you showcased speaks to me: "until
    God’s soil is rescued from the clutch of greed".
    There is so much focus on the material things in life that we all need to step back and ponder what is that will cause balance to return. Thanks for sharing this powerful book.

  9. Thanks for sharing about this book (must look for it), and Wilcox's poem. She pretty much sums up exactly what's happening in our country right now. She had me at the first line (I thought about the GOP's silent complicity), and later she reminded me about how much the free press is being threatened. A powerful poem telling powerful truths. That "clutch of greed" seems to be winning over morality and decency . . .

  10. The first line grabbed me, too: "To sin by silence, when we should protest...." I am determined to keep speaking up. Calling those elected officials again today!

  11. Thank you, Linda, for sharing this volume. It has been a rough year, and this book looks like one that will speak to me. The Protest poem is such a powerful reminder--and those ending lines speak so much to our current news.

  12. Thanks, Linda, for sharing this anthology. Have your read Elizabeth Alexander's memoir, The Light of the World? (I noticed that she wrote the forward to this book you shared.) Ella Wheeler Wilcox's poem is powerful. I enjoyed reading about her on Wikipedia.

  13. Kurious Kitty has this book at her library, so that may be how you heard of it. :-)

  14. Thanks, everyone. I was at the bookstore taking a shift for another volunteer, then with Ingrid at her "zoo camp" presentation. I'm glad you enjoyed what I shared, and Diane, perhaps you were the person who shared the book & from where I found it. Or since Irene appears to know it, perhaps I got it from her. Thanks! Ramona, I will look for the book you shared.

  15. Linda, I read this recommendation as well and have the book in my list of need-to-buy books. The Ella Wheeler Wilcox poem is so powerful and so sadly apt. I wonder often what I can do to raise my voice against the insanity. The news each day feels overwhelming and is tragically absurd. When I read or hear what's being said (and swallowed!), I'm consistently stunned. It's paralyzing. I can't make sense of it at all. Thanks for sharing this rallying cry and reminder that I need to consider how else I can contribute to the protests.

  16. I. Need. This. Book.

    Maybe it's my crazy summer teacher brain working here, but I can imagine unpacking this poem with my fifth graders as a way for them to choose a person, topic, issue, place, time, or idea for a year-long exploration. With only three years left in the classroom, I'm feeling such a sense of urgency to get it right, to raise up a piece of the generation that might save the world.

  17. Molly, it's very hard for me to understand why Congress is not doing something. I understand your feelings and keep on with what I can do, though it often doesn't feel like enough. Mary Lee, if still in the classroom I certainly would be helping students study the background history and the daily acts of change happening. Best wishes, hoping you will find a way. Thanks to both of you!

  18. I've heard of this book, but have not read it - so thank you for sharing this!

  19. The power and voice of this poem is needed today. As I am working on a manuscript about the reconstruction era, I am amazed at how we can still feel the effects of oppression and slavery. How do we not do better? Thanks for sharing this book, too. I am off to put it in my TBR pile.

  20. Thanks for sharing this book. It makes me cry to think how much we need it in our country. I have never felt so hopeless about the future of the world:>(

  21. This is going on my wish list. Thank you, Linda, for sharing it. I love the Wilcox poem, and it is so fitting for this week, for these last 18 months....

    Keep on letting the light in, friend.


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