Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Celebrating National Poetry Month, 2020

My favorite literary celebration of the year begins today! Grab your nearest poet and give them a hug to celebrate them and their efforts to express all things humanity.

The best of poems require our full attention, a moment's lingering devotion. They do not give up all their gems at once, but a little at a time. After a little effort from us, the facets are uncovered, and the beauty and value of the jewel before us takes our breath away.

So to kick things off, a stunning, challenging poem by one of my all-time favorite poets:

"Crow Song"
by Margaret Atwood

In the arid sun, over the field
where the corn has rotted and then
dried up, you flock and squabble.
Not much here for you, my people,
but there would be

In my austere black uniform
I raised the banner
which decreed Hope
and which did not succeed
and which is not allowed.
Now I must confront the angel
who says Win,
who tells me to wave any banner
that you will follow

for you ignore me, my
baffled people, you have been through
too many theories
too many stray bullets
your eyes are gravel, skeptical,

in this hard field
you pay attention only
to the rhetoric of seed
fruit stomach elbow.

You have too many leaders
you have too many wars,
all of them pompous and small,
you resist only when you feel
like dressing up,
you forget the sane corpses...

I know you would like a god
to come down and feed you
and punish you. That overcoat
on sticks is not alive
                                 there are no angels,
but the angels of hunger,
prehensile and soft as gullets
                                 Watching you
my people, I become cynical,
you have defrauded me of hope
and left me alone with politics...

(published in Poetry, February 1974)

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