All day I think about it, then at night I say it. Where did I come from, and what am I supposed to be doing? I have no idea. My soul is from elsewhere, I’m sure of that, and I intend to end up there. This drunkenness began in some other tavern. When I get back around to that place, I’ll be completely sober. Meanwhile, I’m like a bird from another continent, sitting in this aviary. The day is coming when I fly off, but who is it now in my ear who hears my voice? Who says words with my mouth? Who looks out with my eyes? What is the soul? I cannot stop asking. If I could taste one sip of an answer, I could break out of this prison for drunks. I didn’t come here of my own accord, and I can’t leave that way. Whoever brought me here, will have to take me home. This poetry. I never know what I’m going to say. I don’t plan it. When I’m outside the saying of it, I get very quiet and rarely speak at all.
That’s Rumi, and this is Professor Barbara Mossberg, at our own self-declared happy hour, our Poetry Slow Down, KRXA 540AM, Produced by Sara Hughes here in our studios in Sand City, and here we are in the middle of our lives, in the middle of our day, in the middle and muddle of our 21st century, and we’re thinking about it, hearing a man who wrote over 700 years ago, in fact, who didn’t even write, who spoke and sang, and other people wrote down his words while he swirled and twirled around like a whirling dervish, which he was. This poetry, he says. I never know what I’m going to say, I don’t plan it. What is it that poetry allows us to say, that we don’t or can’t say in our so –called real lives? What if we cannot find the words even in the poem? Still, what is found there in the poem, by the poet and by us, is something true and essential for our lives. We explore the quest of poets to front the questions of purpose and our path with witty and passionate poems of disclosure on being the fool, not really knowing what to say, but saying this very thing precisely and with poetry’s panache.
Our show concludes:
Whitman ends his reflection on his epic life achievement of a poem to work out the overwhelming question(s) (can we hear Eliot saying, “do not ask what is it”), with “the strongest and sweetest songs are yet to be sung.” As we consider how he has asked
The question, O me! so sad, recurring—What good amid these, O me, O life?
That you are here—that life exists and identity,
That the powerful play goes on, and you may contribute a verse.
We realize Whitman has HAD HIS SAY, and now the sweetest songs remain to be sung,—that’s where you come in, and think about how you go about your day, thinking your thoughts, looking into the magic mirror of poetry, and seeing the epic reality of your splendid self . . . thinking . . . honoring our human existence, slowing down, with KRXA 540AM POETRY SLOW DOWN, Produced by Sara Hughes who produces our podcast where you can click on to hear any of our shows over four years, at BarbaraMossberg.com, I am so glad, as Whitman says, that YOU ARE HERE, that “life exists and identity, that the powerful play goes on, and you may contribute a verse” you ARE a verse, and I’m truly yours, shaking my white locks at the sun,
The spotted hawk swoops by and accuses me, he complains of my gab and my loitering. I too am not a bit tamed, I too am untranslatable, I sound my barbaric yawp over the roofs of the world. The last scud of day holds back for me, It flings my likeness after the rest and true as any on the shadow’d wilds, It coaxes me to the vapor and the dusk. I depart as air, I shake my white locks at the runaway sun, I effuse my flesh in eddies, and drift it in lacy jags. I bequeath myself to the dirt to grow from the grass I love, If you want me again look for me under your boot-soles. You will hardly know who I am or what I mean, But I shall be good health to you nevertheless, And filter and fibre your blood. Failing to fetch me at first keep encouraged, Missing me one place search another, I stop somewhere waiting for you. – that’s Whitman and he’ll be waiting and I’ll be back next week at this time with our Poetry Slow Down team, I’m yours truly, Professor Barbara Mossberg
© Barbara Mossberg 2013