Monthly Archives: February 2015

“CHORUS”

“Chorus” from the Seamus Heaney play “The Cure at Troy:”

Human beings suffer,
They torture one another,
They get hurt and get hard.
No poem or play or song
Can fully right a wrong
Inflicted and endured.

The innocent in gaols
Beat on their bars together.
A hunger-striker’s father
Stands in the graveyard dumb.
The police widow in veils
Faints at the funeral home.

History says, don’t hope
On this side of the grave.
But then, once in a lifetime
The longed-for tidal wave
Of justice can rise up,
And hope and history rhyme.

So hope for a great sea-change
On the far side of revenge.
Believe that further shore
Is reachable from here.
Believe in miracle
And cures and healing wells.

Call miracle self-healing:
The utter, self-revealing
Double-take of feeling.
If there’s fire on the mountain
Or lightning and storm
And a god speaks from the sky

That means someone is hearing
The outcry and the birth-cry
Of new life at its term.

This often quoted excerpt from a 1991 play by this Irish poet sounded to me vaguely familiar when I stumbled upon it recently. The play “The Cure at Troy” is Heaney’s retelling of Sophocles’ Philoctetes, the story of how Odysseus tricked Achilles’ son into joining the Greek forces at Troy towards the end of the Trojan War. A native of northern Ireland, poet Heaney (1939 – 2013) is said to have written “The Cure at Troy” as a parallel to the struggles that Northern Ireland has faced for self-determination.

“What’s in back of the sky”

Gotta get off, gonna get
Have to get off from this ride
Gotta get hold, gonna get
Need to get hold of my pride.
When did I get, where did I
How was I caught in this game
When will I know, where will I
How will I think of my name
When did I stop feeling sure, feeling safe
And start wondering why, wondering why
Is this a dream, am I here, where are you
What’s in back of the sky, why do we cry
Gotta get off, gonna get
Off of this merry-go-round
Gotta get off, gonna get
Need to get on where I’m bound
When did I get, where did I
Why am I lost as a lamb
When will I know, where will I
How will I learn who I am
Is this a dream, am I here, where are you
Tell me, when will I know, how will I know
When will I know why?

–Dory Previn, songwriter (1925 – 2012); sung by Dionne Warwick

Cynthia in the Snow

It SHUSHES
It hushes
The loudness in the road.
It flitter-twitters,
And laughs away from me.
It laughs a lovely whiteness,
And whitely whirls away,
To be
Some otherwhere,
Still white as milk or shirts,
So beautiful it hurts.

by Gwendolyn Brooks.

From Bronzeville Boys and Girls by Gwendolyn Brooks, 1956. Brooks (1917-2000) is a 20th century African American poet.

The children’s literature magazine, Cricket, featured in January 2015 this poem
complete with a wintery illustration.