Archives for posts with tag: I hear America singing

The One Page Poetry Circle at St. Agnes Branch Library in Manhattan met on November 14 to discuss Poetry and Power.

Abigail read “Power” by Audre Lorde, an account of the killing of a ten year-old by a policeman who was acquitted “by eleven white men who said they were satisfied/justice had been done/and one Black Woman who said/‘They convinced me.’”

Roger read Percy Bysshe Shelley’s “Ozymandias” with its beautiful evocation of the futility of power: “My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings;/Look on my Works, ye Mighty, and despair!/Nothing beside remains.”

Hazel read “The Tempest” by James T. Fields which begins with the description of a storm, the power of nature, “’Tis a fearful thing in winter/To be shattered by the blast,/And to hear the rattling trumpet/Thunder, ‘Cut away the mast!,’” and then explores other kinds of power.

Gail read Gabriel Preil’s “The Power of a Question” describing the conversation between two old men, “Even a drop of Mozart/does not sweeten/the aridity of the hour./You are a squirrel in confrontation/with an uncracked nut,” which comes to life through the power of time.

Elizabeth read “I Hear America Singing” by Walt Whitman and we were reminded of the power of the individuals in this country who make up the whole, “Each singing what belongs to him or her and to none else,/The day what belongs to the day—at night the party of young fellows, robust, friendly,/Singing with open mouths their strong melodious songs.”

Christiana read Sir John Collings Squire’s “Ballade of the Poetic Life,” “Princess, inscribe beneath my name/‘He never begged, he never sighed,/He took his medicine as it came’—/For this the poets lived— and died.”

Ken read “The Power of Words” by Letitia Elizabeth Landon (L.E.L.), “Anger and fear are in them; grief and joy/Are on their sound; yet slight, impalpable:—/A word is but a breath of passing air.”

Terry read “Phenomenal Woman” by Maya Angelou, in which the poet celebrates the power of believing in herself, “I walk into a room/Just as cool as you please,/And to a man,/The fellows stand or/Fall on their knees./Then they swarm around me,/A hive of honey bees.”

AnnaLee read “Fall 1961” by Robert Lowell, “All autumn, the chafe and jar/of nuclear war;/we have talked our extinction to death.” Yet he finds relief from this dire situation in nature.

Linda could not attend the circle, but brought “The Return of Lucifer” by Louis Ginsberg, father of Allen Ginsberg and Linda’s former high school teacher. In this poem Lucifer looks at his projects on the earth, “‘I’ll stay,’ he chuckled, ‘things are going well;/For, under Heaven, Earth’s a better Hell.’”

Look for our next post about the upcoming program for December. And, please blog with us here at onepagepoetrycircle.wordpress.com.

Abigail Burnham Bloom and
AnnaLee Wilson

The One Page Poetry Circle is sponsored by the New York Public Library and is open to all. St. Agnes Branch Library is handicap accessible.

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OPPC_Nov04_PoliticsJoin the One Page Poetry Circle on Election Day, November 4 to discuss Poetry and Politics.

Even when poems are not directly about politics, they are imbued with it as a poem expresses the author’s view of the world and how it should be. In the poems that follow, two great poets present their visions of America. In Walt Whitman’s “I Hear America Singing,” the poet celebrates the people of our country through the glorification of labor:

I HEAR America singing, the varied carols I hear;
Those of mechanics—each one singing his, as it should be, blithe and
        strong;
The carpenter singing his, as he measures his plank or beam,
The mason singing his, as he makes ready for work, or leaves off
        work;
The boatman singing what belongs to him in his boat—the deckhand
        singing on the steamboat deck;
The shoemaker singing as he sits on his bench—the hatter singing as
        he stands;
The wood-cutter’s song—the ploughboy’s, on his way in the morning,
        or at the noon intermission, or at sundown;
The delicious singing of the mother—or of the young wife at work—or
        of the girl sewing or washing—Each singing what belongs to
        her, and to none else;
The day what belongs to the day—At night, the party of young
        fellows, robust, friendly,
Singing, with open mouths, their strong melodious songs.

In response to Whitman’s view, Langston Hughes wrote “I, Too” in which he reminds the reader of those America left out:

I, too, sing America.

I am the darker brother.
They send me to eat in the kitchen
When company comes,
But I laugh,
And eat well,
And grow strong.

Tomorrow,
I’ll be at the table
When company comes.
Nobody’ll dare
Say to me,
“Eat in the kitchen,”
Then.

Besides,
They’ll see how beautiful I am
And be ashamed—

I, too, am America

Although we may be disgusted with our politicians, we are proud of our democracy in which all can contribute to the solving of our problems.

Click on the speech balloon next to the subject of this blog post and send us your own thoughts or poems on the subject of Poetry and Politics. Or any another other poetry subject!

While you are thinking, mark November 4th on your calendars for the next One Page Poetry Circle. 

Date: Tuesday, November 4
Time: 5:30 – 6:30 pm
Place: St. Agnes Branch Library, 444 Amsterdam Avenue (near 81st Street), 3rd Floor
Theme: Poetry and Politics