I shall grow old but never lose life’s zest, Because the road’s last turn will be the best.—Henry Van Dyke
“The difference made me bold”—celebrating Emily Dickinson’s life of service, in honor of her 185th birthday; the meaning sharing one’s life can make to the spirit with which we each go forth boldly where no one has been before, with May Sarton, Ruth Stone, Tillie Olsen, Wendy Barker, Sandra Gilbert, Linda Gregg, Lucille Clifton, Deb Casey, and moi, and not only feisty ladies including Sphinx but the guys, Dante, Eliot, Gerard Stern, Stanley Kunitz, Donald Hall, W.S. Merwin, Charles Gibilterra, and Charles Tripi, with special tributes to Jack Gilbert and Lawrence Ferlinghetti.
Welcome to our Poetry Slow Down, here at radiomonterey.com Magic-4-Life Think for Yourself Radio, with our Team Solarzar, and Producer Zappa, I’m Professor Barbara Mossberg, radio waving to you, it’s almost Emily Dickinson’s birthday, and in her honor we’re thinking of poems to grow bold by, no matter what our age, poets encouraging us from the vantage of age, the voice of three legs in the afternoon, to not go gently into that good night, as Dylan Thomas encouraged his father in the poem of that name, “do not go gently into that good night, rage, rage, against the dying of the light!”, and T.S. Eliot, Old Possum himself, obsessed with growing old—in The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock, he has his narrator contemplate the dilemma on how to go on with our lives, when one is becoming decrepit, in his words, ridiculous, laughed at, pitied, hair growing thin, a bald spot in the middle of my hair, so demoralized, “I grow old, I grow old, I shall wear my trousers rolled, do I dare to eat a peach? Do I dare disturb the universe? How should I presume? I shall wear white flannel trousers and walk upon the beach . . . I have heard the mermaids singing, each to each, I do not think they will sing to me,” but when he’s writing this, he’s in his twenties . . . much later on he’s a wise man, so how in fact do poets write when they ARE losing hair and teeth, wits and minds, everything, in Shakespeare’s words—sans eyes, sans teeth, sans hair, also written in his twenties . . . . so we hear T.S. Eliot’s Prufrock saying the mermaids will not sing to him, to which the poet May Sarton, over seventy, replies in her novel, Mrs. Stevens Hears the Mermaids Singing—hear, hear, Mrs. Stevens, go, Mrs. Stevens! . . . Viva . . .
In the 1300s, the man we call Dante wrote the Divine Comedy, a story of a man in the middle of his life, who realized he felt lost, and the way he described it was a metaphor, a way of understanding his feeling, in the middle of my life I lost my way in a dark wood, and he begins a journey of discovery and recovery, to find himself, to heal. And the guide that Dante imagines for him, and for us, to lead him through hell, literally, on his journey to paradise, the light at the end of the tunnel, is a poet: Virgil, author of the Aeneid, the Latin-language Roman cover of The Iliad . . . the story of Rome’s founding, a mythic past . . . . So today we’ll slow down with poetry—you know you move too fast—to see how poets guide us in our life journeys, giving us a way to understand growth and aging, so that we grow boldly, advancing into our own life without fear, with couragio as my mom used to say, with grace and style and panache and elan . . .
Poets have always given us language and a way of thinking to inspire our journeys—I’m thinking of Startrek, the opening narration—think William Shatner. . .
. . . and so begins our two-part show, of how we experience our own lives continuously as a brave new world, one in which we must go forth boldly, where no one has ever gone before, except, of course, all of us, with the way lit by poets. Tune in 24/7: we’ll be “hear” for you!
THE POETRY SLOW DOWN
December 6, 2012
Dr. Barbara Mossberg
Produced by Zappa J.
© Barbara Mossberg 2015