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Political Poem

April 3, 2018

I’ve found it difficult to write about poetry here since November 9, 2017. There are a lot of reasons for that. The main ones are that I’ve had to volunteer and organize others at the local political level, so I haven’t made as much time for meditative blog writing, and I’m less willing to say what I think and feel to the world in general. The world is a meaner and more dangerous place than I used to believe.

It’s national poetry month, though, so I thought I’d make an effort. I thought maybe I could start with a political poem, like this one by Jeffrey Harrison that makes me think of George Washington’s song from Hamilton, One Last Time, about wanting to sit under his own vine and fig tree. Fragments of the lyrics from that song float through my mind, with a by-now familiar ironic tinge:
“It outlives me when I’m gone.”  “After 45 years of my life dedicated to its service. ” “No one will make them afraid.”

And then I read Harrison’s poem, from what seems like a better time in history, but still lamenting a lost golden age:

Political Poem

Gone are the days,
are the centuries, even,
when government officials
retired to become
poets in gardens
of their own design,
as here in Suzhou
happened for so long:
a gnarled shaft
of limestone here,
there a willow’s
green locks swaying
above the fishpond,
a zigzag bridge
to a pagoda where,
far from the capital,
one could finally
attend to matters
of real importance:
the moon’s reflection
troubled by a carp.

Matters of real importance. We decide what’s important every moment, by spending our time on it. tumblr_o56anfavUc1qdj8m0o1_1280tumblr_o56anfavUc1qdj8m0o2_1280

Poetry is still important in my life, so I made a halting effort to talk about it today.

And voting is important. If you’re an American, I hope you’ve registered to vote. The deadline for registering in Ohio is April 9, for voting in the May 8 primary.

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10 Comments leave one →
  1. April 3, 2018 4:36 pm

    Thank you for sharing this.

    • April 4, 2018 8:06 pm

      My pleasure, and thanks for encouraging more of us to post about poetry during April.

  2. April 3, 2018 5:30 pm

    Keep plugging along with your volunteering, Jeanne. I appreciate that you do what you can do. We already had our primary here in TX and voter turnout was much improved. It makes a difference. Funny, I have not wanted to blog hardly at all either. You chose a great poem that makes one pause . . . Denise

    • April 4, 2018 8:07 pm

      I hope that everything I’m doing will help to make a difference. Thanks for the encouraging words.

  3. April 8, 2018 4:55 pm

    Yes, poetry is important, in spite of the negativity crowding our consciousness. It’s a way to assert and strengthen our creative selves, the only thing that can drive back the dark. Thank you for all you do, on the blog and off of it.

    • April 8, 2018 8:21 pm

      Right now it feels like creativity is beside the point, like I should be doing research and organizing people to call about the issues that crop up almost every day. But that way lies burnout, so I take breaks.

  4. April 8, 2018 6:46 pm

    Not sure which I liked more, the poem or Mr. Rogers 🙂

  5. April 9, 2018 8:10 pm

    Aw, Mr. Rogers. Always with the mot juste.

    • April 9, 2018 10:08 pm

      …to become a meme after one’s own lifetime…that’s an interesting kind of immortality.

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