How can poetry be written and listened to, when the world breaks our hearts?
A midsummer, anni-verse-ary show in the midst of news
Mathew Arnold’s Dover Beach: Doesn’t it sound like it could be written today, of today—the question, how, given the turbulent news, do we, can we, proceed, taken up by poets, as Auden does on his honeymoon? Here he is, the air is soft, the moon shines on the water, the waves lap, and all he can think about is “confused alarms of struggle and flight,” a world of war and suffering . . . . The answer, ah, love, let us be true to one another. That’s all we have—each other, our community, for joy and solace and purpose . . . redeeming our world, ourselves . . .So in the spirit of this honeymoon poem of Auden, on his honeymoon by calm waters, reflecting on the day’s news and histories of war and suffering, as he looks out the window, and concludes, let us be true to one another, I bring you today’s show live by the waters of Lake Tahoe, on a wedding anniversary, my husband and I are 41 today—driving up California’s eastern spine on our way to Moscow, Idaho, where I am at the Association for the Study of Literature and the Environment, where poets meet soil scientists and evolutionary biologists and geologists and historians—I am talking on the role of poetry in environmental legislation—we will hear more about that conference, but meanwhile we are truckin—taking our show literally on the road, so our show today celebrates with the verse of anniverse-ary . . .how poets extract from the daily news, late-breaking heart-breaking news, news of true love, love in the time of crisis, which, according to history, is always . . .when we need each other more than ever—the drive was so beautiful that it humbled and silenced me—What could be said in the face of such majesty? The news shriveled to inconsequence. The only thing that matters is the health of each other. The existence of each other. That, that stands up to mountains, belongs in a landscape where you can see the earth forever, its volcanoes and valleys and deserts and groves and peaks and glaciers, extending in waves . . . and here we are, in our little boat—We consider translations of Omar Khayyam, Kabir, Neruda, poems by Chuck Tripi, Whitman, e.e. cummings, Dickinson, Wendell Berry, and others, and some of my poems and reflections on our anniversary,
And poems to match! Thank you for listening.
© Barbara Mossberg 2015