Monthly Archives: June 2007

Monday’s Verse 6-18-07

Friends,

I had the humbling experience of meeting Nyameka Goniwe, the widow of Matthew Goniwe (google search for “Cradock Four”–alas I’m too rushed to provide background) today. Mrs. Goniwe is a community organizer in the east cape. June Jordan once wrote a poem about Mandela that mentions Matthew. I couldn’t find it but I did find this, which for me was appropriate reading today. I wish I could write more but maybe someone else can start the conversation?

Best, -ed.

Poem for South African Women


Our own shadows disappear as the feet of thousands
by the tens of thousands pound the fallow land
into new dust that
rising like a marvelous pollen will be
fertile
even as the first woman whispering
imagination to the trees around her made
for righteous fruit
from such deliberate defense of life
as no other still
will claim inferior to any other safety
in the world

The whispers too they
intimate to the inmost ear of every spirit
now aroused they
carousing in ferocious affirmation
of all peaceable and loving amplitude
sound a certainly unbounded heat
from a baptismal smoke where yes
there will be fire

And the babies cease alarm as mothers
raising arms
and heart high as the stars so far unseen
nevertheless hurl into the universe
a moving force
irreversible as light years
traveling to the open eye

And who will join this standing up
and the ones who stood without sweet company
will sing and sing
back into the mountains and
if necessary
even under the sea:

we are the ones we have been waiting for.

-1980

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Monday’s Verse 6-11-07

Dear readers,

WC Williams claims that so much depends upon a red wheelbarrow. but I say that so much depends upon tone and diction, as we see in the following poem from an esteemed, but probably underheralded, northern Irish poet, Derek Mahon. Mahon shares an educational and geographical backround with his more famous contemporary Seamus Heaney, but not a rural or Catholic background. And his poetry differs insofar as he treats his subjects with more of a classical distance than romantic attachment. One might ask, in reflecting on this poem, IS everything going to be all right? The rhyme and rhythm give it a nice roundedness, a wholeness and integrity, but do his words suggest doubts that unravel it (as Yeats might ask, does the center hold?)? Nonetheless it’s lovely, and certainly the kind of thing I was thinking as I sat alone at a sunny beach bar overlooking the Indian Ocean Saturday, watching the dazzling sunshine play across the walls of the balcony. -ed.

Everything Is Going to Be All RightHow should I not be glad to contemplate
the clouds clearing beyond the dormer window
and a high tide reflected on the ceiling?
There will be dying, there will be dying,
but there is no need to go into that.
The poems flow from the hand unbidden
and the hidden source is the watchful heart.
The sun rises in spite of everything
and the far cities are beautiful and bright.
I lie here in a riot of sunlight
watching the day break and the clouds flying.
Everything is going to be all right.