HOW ABRAHAM LINCOLN’S READING OF POETRY LEADS TO NATIONAL PARK LEGISLATION, JOHN MUIR IN THE HOTSEAT OF CONGRESSIONAL TESTIMONY, AND IT’S ALL ABOUT A POEM ABOUT A MOUSE WHOM BOBBY BURNS (A FAV OF LINCOLN AND MUIR) CALLS A FELLOW MORTAL

We tell you on this show that we are all about the news at the top of the hour, the news without which men die miserably day, the news we need, the news we heed, the news inside the fast-breaking, late-breaking, heart-breaking news, the news we brake for, slowing down with poetry, and in our focus today on the headline news about confirmation hearings for Secretary of the Interior, and the running of the Environmental Protection Agency, and the fate of the National Parks, and federal lands created to protect the environment, John Muir is in the news, because of his words, and by coincidence, this is the time our communities are having Bobby Burns Birthday Parties, known as the Bobby Burns Dinners, toasting him. Aye, we’re toasting this week, all over the world, it’s the anniversary of the first Bobby Burns’ anniversary dinner, as we raise a glass to “To a Mouse.”

So, hearty welcome lads and lasses to The Poetry Slow Down, the low down, the down low, I’m your loaming beaming host, Professor Barbara Mossberg, Dr. B, welcoming you, with our producer Zappa Johns, we’re a team stretching the West Coast based here in Eugene, Oregon, Go Ducks, with our roots in the Monterey Peninsula, where I’m City Poet Emerita for Pacific Grove, Go Groovy Grovians!, and our show today includes our next generation in whose hands we will be making sense of our world, hide and hair–my Clark Honors College students at the University of Oregon, in eco literature, eco lit/crit, and my thinking as I am preparing a month-long college course for adults in the Insight Seminars, founded by literary philosopher James Earl, beginning with a free public lecture Monday night at the Knight Library, for which my title is, John Muir’s Purple Prose Strategies to Save the World, this title may seem a little reachy if not also preposterous, as if a dancy fancy way of writing can do anything, much less save the world. Yet we tell our kindergartners to “use their words,” when they face any problem, as if words could get us out of or around or over something: well, can they? In our show today we walk the talk: we examine chapter and verse for how words can matter, in fact, have made history, make headlines, change the world. Truth to tell, it’s poetry we’re talking about! The environment and national parks have been in the headline news this week, and we’ll ponder and wonder at the role of poetry in how and why we have our national parks in the first place. Specifically, we’ll look at how John Muir, a geologist and biologist, used his words, to try to turn around a seeming public consensus about the meaning and value of wilderness and all that is wild. We’re talking about a 180, a U-Turn in our national thinking. As we DRILL DOWN into and GET TO THE ROOTS of the story of how poetry has led to our national parks and issues we face as a nation today about preserving nature, we come across a little poem by Rabbie Burns, To A Mouse. To be sure, we also get to bedrock of epic, John Milton’s biblical cadences in Paradise Lost, and the Bard himself, and Muse’s BFF Homer, and we see the witness to nature’s hand placed on the Bible. Our music ranges from the nursery, Three Blind Mice, and rowdy machismo don’t-fence-me-in to the purples of America the Beautiful and blues.  Clearly singing out is a humble poem by the Scottish Bobby Burns, beloved by Abe Lincoln, Bobby Dylan, perhaps you, and absolutely John Muir, about a little mouse whose nest a farmer has disturbed in ploughing his field. So here’s the story, my morning glories, the glorious role of poetry in creating civic consciousness, conscience, and mandate, in preserving wilderness. We’ll be green sleuths.

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