Tuesday, January 20, 2009

on inauguration day 2009

Ev noticed the book Teaching with Fire on my bookshelves last week, and started thumbing through it...it's a sweet little collection of poems that teachers submitted, poems they find sustaining their work, the ones they turn to for energy and inspiration.

I went through the poems again after Ev left - so many good ones, from Marge Piercy to Denise Levertov. This one, excerpted from Seamus Heaney's translation of Sophocles' the Philoctetes, stood out to me for this inauguration day 2009. I do not know what the next 4 years will bring, but I am thankful that the American people elected Barack Obama in November.

from "The Cure at Troy"

Seamus Heaney

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.

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