SATURDAY POETRY SERIES PRESENTS: RAFAEL ALBERTI

1280px-Rafael_Alberti


By Rafael Alberti
Translated by A.S. Kline:


WHAT I LEFT, FOR YOU

For you I left my woods, my lost
Grove, my sleepless dogs,
My important years, those banished
Almost to my life’s winter.

I left a tremor, a shock
A brilliance of un-extinguished fire,
I left my shadow on the desperate
Blood-stained eyes of farewell.

I left sad doves beside a river,
Horses in the sand of the arena,
I left the scent of the sea, I left to see you.

For you, I left everything that was mine.
Give me, Rome, in exchange for my pains,
All I have left in order to attain you.


LO QUE DEJÉ POR TI

Dejé por ti mis bosques, mi perdida
arboleda, mis perros desvelados,
mis capitales años desterrados
hasta casi el invierno de la vida.

Dejé un temblor, dejé una sacudida,
un resplandor de fuegos no apagados,
dejé mi sombra en los desesperados
ojos sangrantes de la despedida.

Dejé palomas tristes junto a un río,
caballos sobre el sol de las arenas,
dejé de oler la mar, dejé de verte.

Dejé por ti todo lo que era mío.
Dame tú, Roma, a cambio de mis penas,
tanto como dejé para tenerte.



THE DOVE

The dove was wrong.
The dove was mistaken.
To travel north she flew south,
Believing the wheat was water.
Believing the sea was sky,
That the night was dawn.
That the stars were dew,
That the heat was snowfall.
Your skirt your blouse,
Your heart her home.
(She fell asleep on the shore,
You at the tip of a branch.)


SE EQUIVOCÓ LA PALOMA

Se equivocó la paloma.
Se equivocaba.
Por ir al norte, fue al sur.
Creyó que el trigo era agua.
Se equivocaba.
Creyó que el mar era el cielo;
que la noche, la mañana.
Se equivocaba.
Que las estrellas, rocío;
que la calor; la nevada.
Se equivocaba.
Que tu falda era tu blusa;
que tu corazón, su casa.
Se equivocaba.
(Ella se durmió en la orilla.
Tú, en la cumbre de una rama.)



PEÑARANDA DE DUERO

Why look so serious, dear road?

You have four grey mules,
A horse in front,
A carriage with green wheels,
And the road,
All to yourself,
Dear road.

What more do you need?


PEÑARANDA DE DUERO

¿Por qué me miras tan serio,
carretero?

Tienes cuatro mulas tordas,
un caballo delantero,
un carro de ruedas verdes,
y la carretera toda
para ti,
carretero.

¿Qué más quieres?


Today’s poems were translated by A. S. Kline © 2012 and appear here for non-commercial purposes with permission from the translator.


Rafael Alberti Merello (1902–1999) was a Spanish poet. A member of the Generation of ’27, he is considered one of the greatest literary figures of the Silver Age of Spanish Literature. After the Spanish Civil War, he went into exile because of his Marxist beliefs. On his return to Spain after the death of Franco, he was named Hijo Predilecto de Andalucía in 1983 and Doctor Honoris Causa by the Universidad de Cádiz in 1985. (Annotated bio courtesy of Wikipedia, with edits.)


Editor’s Note: It is easy to read the poetry of Rafael Alberti and see that he and Lorca were cohorts. Beyond and through their shared love of poetry and theater, both men were political activists in the Spanish Civil War. When Lorca lost his life for his words, Alberti and his family went into exile. “I left a tremor, a shock / A brilliance of un-extinguished fire, / I left my shadow on the desperate / Blood-stained eyes of farewell.” Like Lorca, Rafael Alberti blends the surreal with the natural world until what is simple becomes what is devastatingly profound (“Peñaranda de Duero”) and the natural order of things is turned on its head (“The Dove”).


Want to read more by and about Rafael Alberti?
Poetry in Translation: Twenty Poems by Rafael Alberti Translated by A.S. Kline
Spain is Culture
NY Times In Memoriam

Posted in Rafael Alberti, Saturday Poetry, Saturday Poetry Series | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

High School Poetry Series: Gender, Identity, & Race

Poet and teacher Sarah Marcus with her high school students.

Poet and teacher Sarah Marcus with her high school students.

A note from Series Editor Sarah Marcus: Born from a powerful in-class discussion that we had about gender, race, and the role of masculinity in rape culture, “Be A Man/Be A Woman” poems are an analysis of gendered personal experience and a study of our intersectionality. This poetry series was inspired by a HuffPost essay I wrote called, “Why I Teach Feminism at an Urban High School.” The poets featured here are students from my 12th Grade “Resistance Writing” Class who’s work I found to be brave, fearless, and progressive. Please help me support their crucial and influential voices.

DeJuan Brooks is a senior writer in my Resistance Writing Class. His work has previously appeared in As It Ought To Be as part of a collective response to the prompt “We Can’t Breathe.”  He enjoys good music, playing  sports, and writing. His favorite author is Alex Haley. DeJuan is committed to bettering his Cleveland community. He says, “A lot of people don’t  want to change anything. They get complacent with the way things are. If no one’s going to help, I might as well try.” In the following poem, I most admire his careful attention to rhyme and the natural rhythm that highlights and reinforces the idea that we are trapped in an insidious cycle of repressed emotion and stereotypes. This poem was the poem that inspired this series. I am consistently impressed by DeJuan’s persistence, poise, and maturity. I hope you enjoy this work as much as I do.

See DeJuan read his poem here.

Be A Man

The face of a young black man in the inner city. The growing pains that make him “strong.”
The fights, the bruises, the cuts, the scrapes. The tears that came and were told to go away.
We internalize pain for an image we portray. Cuz we all know if you emotional as a girl
your dad gets ashamed. People may think that’s crazy, he just a baby,
but we all know that boy in the 4th or 5th grade who at recess played patty cake
or double dutched way too much. So your dad gives you that look to stay away,
cuz he knows what you don’t, and he’s keeping you “safe.”
And we don’t try to even exercise our free right and go over there and play,
cuz we supposed to be growing to be men, and not that way. Cuz the way we raised,
boys don’t cry, boys don’t walk that way, boys stay strong, boys portray men who are
messed up themselves, cuz that’s how we was raised.
Your dad gets more proud when you fight, then when you tell em’ bout your pain.
When you fall down, you stand up. You crying, then man up. We release pain on others,
we’re supposed to be brothers, but I gotta figure out how to release this some other way.
They say fight like a man, but what people don’t understand is if you’ve never seen
my mom throw hands, you’ll never understand what a real fight is.
A whole theory deferred.
I know men, women, even children who would kill to have as much pride as her.
I lived my whole life knowing my worth, so when they tell me to man up,
like men set the precedent of the world, like this woman who brought me into the world
isn’t stronger than any man or boy. I was raised as a boy and I turned into a man,
but when they tell me I’m acting like a girl, I think of the fight my mom endured.
So, when they say I’m acting like a girl, I feel like I’m the strongest man in the world.

Posted in High School Poetry Series, Race, Sarah Marcus | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Rereading of the “Most demanding 1st birthday invite ever”

Credit: Timothy Morgan, Flickr

Credit: Timothy Morgan, Flickr

A Rereading of the

“Most demanding 1st birthday invite ever”

by Anoosh Jorjorian

This letter has been making the rounds on social media as fodder for mockery:

Credit: Imgur

I have an alternate reading:

Dear family,

We know we should be grateful that you are constantly showering our child with excessive gifts, but on the other hand, he has 25 books that he can’t even use yet when what we really need is formula. We’d think you’d agree that our child needs food more than another chewing toy in the form of a book, but so far we haven’t been able to convince you.

We’ve tried on several occasions to get you to buy us some much-needed basics, or toys that will usefully occupy my child while I try to take a fucking shower, instead of another book to add to his collection of 57 (more books than weeks hes been alive!) or an outfit bedazzled with our child’s name on it. But since nothing so far has worked, we’re just going to tell you very specifically what to buy and try to discourage you in the strongest possible terms from getting us more useless shit.

Please let us know if you are not getting these gifts, because we actually needed them yesterday when I was pooping alone in the bathroom for like 5 minutes but my child decided he needed me RIGHT NOW and he was pounding on the door while both of us cried. We have discovered from experience that he likes other kids’ play tunnels and tents, and we will totally buy them if we have to. Then he will play with the toys that we bought that we know he likes instead of whatever inappropriate crazy thing you buy.

Do NOT get us personalized gifts, because then we can’t take them to the consignment store when our child outgrows them in 3 months and exchange them for clothes that we need. Since you are generally impervious to our rational explanations, here’s a totally scary bullshit reason to get you to stahp, just stahp.

He doesn’t even like books yet! Credit: Anoosh Jorjorian

For this reason, we are asking for modestly priced gifts from bargain stores. Some parents ask for gifts from Pottery Barn Kids and try to milk their relatives. That’s not how we roll.Have we mentioned that the costs of raising a child have made us very sensitive about wasting money? Our child is not yet reading, but we’re already stressed about how we are going to afford college. (Somehow, our suggestions to start a college fund as a gift have fallen on deaf ears.)

I’m so fucking tired all the time because our kid is having night terrors, and I would love to take a nap instead of running to another store to return another fucking thing that we already have.

A formal invitation to the birthday party made of paper and hand-addressed and stamped and everything is coming because we know that shit is important to you and you interpret an Evite to mean that we think you are lower than slime, when really we are just overwhelmed parents trying to plan a birthday party that will include a lot of overbearing, easily butthurt relatives.

Not signing “love” because we’re too exhausted, frustrated, and not feelin’ it right now,
_____________ & ______________

Additional thoughts:

The family member who posted this to Teh Internetz is a total dick catheter.

Enough with shaming parents already. Raising kids is hard. Mocking people who do it is easy. Maybe offer babysitting or a gift card to Target and STFU. Or even just STFU.

*This piece original appeared at aranamama.com and is reprinted here with permission of the author. 

Anoosh Jorjorian writes on the politics of parenting. Her work has been published at Salon, Time.com, the Huffington Post, and Black Girl Dangerous. Follow her on Twitter @aranamama.

Posted in Commentary | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

SATURDAY POETRY SERIES PRESENTS: EARTH VOICES FOR SPRING

Public Domain image.

Public Domain image.



EARTH VOICES
By Bliss Carman

I

I heard the spring wind whisper
Above the brushwood fire,
“The world is made forever
Of transport and desire.

“I am the breath of being,
The primal urge of things;
I am the whirl of star dust,
I am the lift of wings.

“I am the splendid impulse
That comes before the thought,
The joy and exaltation
Wherein the life is caught.

“Across the sleeping furrows
I call the buried seed,
And blade and bud and blossom
Awaken at my need.

“Within the dying ashes
I blow the sacred spark,
And make the hearts of lovers
To leap against the dark.”

II

I heard the spring light whisper
Above the dancing stream,
“The world is made forever
In likeness of a dream.

“I am the law of planets,
I am the guide of man;
The evening and the morning
Are fashioned to my plan.

“I tint the dawn with crimson,
I tinge the sea with blue;
My track is in the desert,
My trail is in the dew.

“I paint the hills with color,
And in my magic dome
I light the star of evening
To steer the traveller home.

“Within the house of being,
I feed the lamp of truth
With tales of ancient wisdom
And prophecies of youth.”

III

I heard the spring rain murmur
Above the roadside flower,
“The world is made forever
In melody and power.

“I keep the rhythmic measure
That marks the steps of time,
And all my toil is fashioned
To symmetry and rhyme.

“I plow the untilled upland,
I ripe the seeding grass,
And fill the leafy forest
With music as I pass.

“I hew the raw, rough granite
To loveliness of line,
And when my work is finished,
Behold, it is divine!

“I am the master-builder
In whom the ages trust.
I lift the lost perfection
To blossom from the dust.”

IV

Then Earth to them made answer,
As with a slow refrain
Born of the blended voices
Of wind and sun and rain,

“This is the law of being
That links the threefold chain:
The life we give to beauty
Returns to us again.”


(Today’s poem is in the public domain, belongs to the masses, and appears here today accordingly.)


Bliss Carman FRSC (1861–1929) was a Canadian poet who lived most of his life in the United States, where he achieved international fame, and was acclaimed as Canada’s poet laureate during his later years. (Annotated bio courtesy of Wikipedia, with edits.)

Editor’s Note: Each year around this time I become so excited by the fact that winter is finally over that I must celebrate the birth of spring through poetry. The sun is shining, the crocuses and tulips are rising, the spring blossoms are in bloom. The cold and darkness that are just behind us are quickly forgotten by the promise of all that is warm and beautiful and worthy of rejoicing. So it has been since the days of Demeter and Persephone, and so it shall be until humankind destroys the natural balance of the world with climate change.

Today’s poem calls upon the “Earth Voices”—the spring wind, the spring light, the spring rain, and the Earth herself—to tell a story of the rebuilding of the world at springtime. The voices of spring speak of the newness they create: “Across the sleeping furrows / I call the buried seed, / And blade and bud and blossom / Awaken at my need.” “I am the master-builder / In whom the ages trust. / I lift the lost perfection / To blossom from the dust.” And the voice of Earth answers, calling upon the ancient power of three, reminding us, as spring does, that what is buried beneath winter “Returns to us again.”

Want to read more Spring Poetry?
SATURDAY POETRY SERIES PRESENTS: SPRING! (2014)
SATURDAY POETRY SERIES PRESENTS: LIZZIE LAWSON ON SPRING
SATURDAY POETRY SERIES PRESENTS: SPRING! (2013)
The Poetry Foundation – Spring Poems

Posted in Bliss Carman, Saturday Poetry, Saturday Poetry Series, Spring | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

The Lessons of Mayor Adams

doors_cover1

[Editor’s Note: The following is an excerpt from the literary sci-fi novel The Doors You Mark Are Your Own, co-written by As It Ought to Be managing editor Okla Elliott and site contributor Raul Clement, available at Amazon.com, B&N.com, and direct from the publisher, as well as local bookstores and other online venues.] 

The Lesson of the Father:

On a glorious morning in mid-April, Joshua City having been washed clean with recent rain, William Adams, future mayor, was born at a robust nine pounds and eight ounces, his skin ruddy with the vigor of grand destiny. William Sr., the most successful water-baron in Joshua City, was in particularly high spirits because the rain would increase his already considerable fortune. Later, on the ride home, he even held the baby.

“This is an important day, isn’t it, Little William?”

Mayor Adams, who was already Mayor Adams before he became Mayor Adams, performed his first act of rebellion by promptly urinating in his father’s lap. William Sr. cursed and tossed Mayor Adams to his mother who, though exhausted from a prolonged childbirth, caught him—what can only be called providentially—just before he broke on the limousine floor.

In the following years, the Adams mansion was filled with sound: the clinking of brandy glasses as William Sr. brokered larger and larger deals; the daily bustle of servants; workers building extra wings on the house and then, when William Sr. had become the richest man in Joshua City, an indoor pool. But the loudest sound of all was the crying. From the nursery, Mayor Adams’s cries for his mother; and from behind the closed door of the librarie, where his mother spent most of her time, the crying of an unhappy wife.

The swimming pool was housed in an enormous wing of glass. When Mayor Adams was eight years old, after countless legal setbacks which, thanks to William Sr.’s money and influence, were not insurmountable, the pool was finally completed. William Sr. showed Mayor Adams the finished product with pride. Mayor Adams marveled at the blue jewel of the water, the way the light struck it through the glass and did a skittery dance he couldn’t quite follow with his eyes.

“You will be the heir to all of this,” William Sr. said. “Everything I build.”

Mayor Adams took on the confident, wide-legged stance of his father.

“But you’ll have to learn certain lessons, just as I did.” He rested a hand on Mayor Adams’s back.

The water hit Mayor Adams in the face. Flailing, the glass above him, and the light blinding him, he took a mouthful of water as he tried to call to his father. His father stood colossally distant.

“What I’ve done to you is unfair,” his father said. Mayor Adams quieted his splashing, trying just to keep his head above water now, more to hear his father’s words than to be able to breathe. “You can’t swim. But practically no one in Joshua City can. And that’s the point. To fulfill your destiny, you will need powers no else has.”

Mayor Adams gathered up an animal willpower with a human hatred and decided not to drown. He looked up toward his father, but the image he saw through the wavering fluid was a three-headed woman, each face distorted in dark grimaces. They beckoned him upward. Arms chopping toward the pool wall, he reached the grainy stone, but couldn’t grab the lip of the pool wall. He clawed at the stone and tore off a fingernail. He clawed again, doing damage that the doktor would later say had fractured three fingers, finally reaching his hand over the edge. He pulled himself out.

His clothes heavy with water, he looked at his father, who did not seem so colossal now.

“You’ve made me very proud, son.”

That was when Mayor Adams knew he would kill him.

 

The Lesson of the Mother:

On a lovely perfect day in mid-April, made peaceful by the recent rain, Josephina Adams struggled through seven hours of labor to give birth to the one joy in her married life. She clutched little William to her breast and looked at her husband, her hair stringy and her face moist with exhaustion.

“Can we leave now?” William Sr. asked the doktor.

“If your wife feels ready.”

She kissed little William on the forehead, and with a dreamy look in her eyes, speaking to herself and her new son, said, “After the storm comes peace.”

The first years with the mother were all warm milk and favorite blanket. But, at three, when the first flickerings of consciousness introduced themselves, the mother walked in with the red on her face again. And her eye-water. He cried more and she tickled his belly the way he liked.

When he was eight years old, he walked into the house dripping water everywhere. His mother tried to help him out of his soaked clothes.

“I can do it,” he said, struggling to make his fractured fingers do the simple task.

She brought him dry clothes, a towel, and called the doktor. This was the doktor who had come before, but always for the mother.

“No, not me,” she said, directing him to the boy.

“Is this becoming a problem?” the doktor asked.

***

She did it in full view of all the servants. “You desert thug,” she screamed.

She slapped him with real force. Mayor Adams had never seen his father cringe. His father stood there, trying to seem unstunned.

“You can do anything you want to me,” she said, “but if you touch my son again, I will kill you.”

The Oracles had told him he would learn this lesson three times. This was the second.

 

***

At thirteen, he sat on the edge of the tub while his mother bathed. Bubbles spilled out of the bath and circled up into the air. She liked his company at times like these, when his father wasn’t around. But she usually wasn’t so quiet.

“Pass me the razor.”

He wondered if she would slit her wrist. Would he stop her or would he just watch? But she dipped the razor into the bathwater to wet it. He had never thought of his mother as a woman before. One slick leg emerged and she shaved the bubbles down.

The sound of the door slapping against the wall behind him. The voice of his father: “What are you two doing?” And the plop of the razor falling into the water. His father grabbed him and tugged him to his feet. Mayor Adams resisted, pulled against his father’s strength. His mother’s hand was a fish swimming the bathwater for its hook, the razor. He stared at his father, who had paused, taking his new son in with a kind of fear. A yelp from his mother, and the water went pink with mother’s-blood. Mayor Adams charged his father, swinging his impotent fists wildly, hitting hard muscle and unbreaking bone. His father let himself be hit, feeling his power renewed with each helpless impact. And then one stray swing landed in his father’s groin, and he grunted in actual pain. Mayor Adams stopped, looked up at his father’s face, smiled at the grimace he saw there.

He was weightless off his feet and then came the hollow-solid crack of skull on porcelain. His mother was out of the water, holding the razor, blood in streams down her beautiful arm, and then the world blurred into the distance, into nothingness.

 

The Lesson of the Self:

It was a promise to himself, his promise, and it was what he was beholden to. Hadn’t it begun one fine April, after the rains had blessed Joshua City? Mayor Adams knew it wasn’t true, but he liked to think that the rain had brought him to cleanse the world of its filth. He did not yet know he was Mayor Adams, though he was. This final lesson would show him his true promise; it would make him what he was to become.

No one spoke of The Lesson of the Mother, in those terms or any. He was sent to the best technical institutes and the most expensive tutors were hired to instruct him during his holidays at home. In the years that followed, few would think of Mayor Adams as an intelligent man, especially today, but he was the brightest of students, as quick with mathematics as he was with foreign languages and rhetoric. Many would praise his moving speeches, but few would know he had written them himself. He suffered many setbacks at his father’s hands, but as his favorite quote from the Book of Before-Time runs: Almost every genius is familiar with a stumbling existence as one stage in his development, a feeling of hatred, revenge, and rebellion against everything that is and no longer becomes… an incomplete ego—the form in which every Caesar pre-exists.

Mayor Adams learned this and many other lessons at his prestigious technical institute. Some were lessons his father would have condoned. But he also learned how to float above, untouchable and untouching. When he returned home on his second winter break, his father was locked in his study with work. Who knew what he worked on besides the business of work itself? His mother wandered, a woman without meaning now that her son had left, only the occasional bruise her husband gave her to remind her she was alive. Mayor Adams saw all this without surprise, without even anger now. It was time. And remembering his first lesson, he knew what to do. After all, what had he taken all those chemistry classes for?

He took his father a glass of water. Hunched over the large oak table, his father looked tired and old. But that didn’t matter.

“I thought you could use a drink,” he said. “You work so hard.”

His expensive spectacles, designed to look expensive, slipped down his nose, not unkindly. “Why thank you, son.”

The water’s shadow, with its core of sun, wobbled on the table. Would his father ever take a drink of his future? Both of their futures filled that glass.

“You know, you’re growing into a fine young man, William. But I hope you are learning the importance of water to this family. The very essence of all life is held in this fluid.”

He lifted his glass to punctuate his point. He swirled the contents. Mayor Adams’s chest tightened.

“There are creatures in the Baikal Sea that are 99% water. Think of that. Were it not for that one percent, they would be exactly the same as the contents of this glass here. Amazing. And you, you are 60% water. Your blood is 92% water.”

Mayor Adams knew all this. He also knew the meaning of blood, whether from a razor in the bathtub or from the other lesson that could not be unlearned. He would carry on his father’s legacy, but it would not make his father immortal.

“Your future floats on its surface,” his father said.

“I know it does. You have taught me that before.”

“I have. But I don’t think you appreciate this fact, not in its fullness.”

“I do, father. Believe me, I do.”

His father drank, a large self-satisfied gulp as he always did. Mayor Adams had not skimped on his assassin’s purchase; the poison was incredibly strong and undetectable by normal forensic procedures. His father slapped his chest and then the table, knocking previously important papers to the shiny marble floor. The water spread over the hard smooth surface, glistening beautifully.

With a voice that mimicked real panic, Mayor Adams screamed out, “Mother! Mother! Something’s wrong with father. Quick!”

His father fell to the floor, gasping. He looked at Mayor Adams who peered down with no discernible emotion; even he did not know what he was feeling at that moment. If there were words to say, he did not say them. Their eyes met and everything was known. His father slithered like a broken lizard toward the northwest corner of the house, where oblivion awaited him.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

SATURDAY POETRY SERIES PRESENTS: THE OPERATING SYSTEM FOR NATIONAL POETRY MONTH


national-poetry-month1


Editor’s Note: April is National Poetry Month. According to the Academy of American Poets, who founded the annual event in 1996, “National Poetry Month is the largest literary celebration in the world, with tens of millions of readers, students, K-12 teachers, librarians, booksellers, literary events curators, publishers, bloggers, and, of course, poets marking poetry’s important place in our culture and our lives.”

Today I want to highlight one of the countless organizations that has picked up the gauntlet the AAP has thrown down. This April the Operating System celebrates its 4th Annual 30-on-30-in-30 Poetry Month Celebration:

“Over the course of Poetry Month The OS brings you 30 poets (+ writers, musicians, and artists) writing on 30 (+ a few extra) poets for 30 days (every day in April). The intention is simple, but crucial: to explode the process of sharing our influences and joys beyond the random. To create a narrative archive around that moment where we excitedly pass on the work of someone who has made a difference in our lives. And so, too, this is an opportunity for The OS to introduce our audience to the work of the people writing — who are invited to share work of their own that demonstrates that influence. Really, its an exercise in appreciation.”

An exercise in appreciation. A labor of love. 30 days for 30 artists to share their 30 favorite poets with you. What more could you ask for? A little love from your fearless editor? You’ve got it! Keep up with the Operating System throughout the month of April and be on the lookout for yours truly sharing the love and inspiration that is Li-Young Lee.

What should you be doing RIGHT NOW? Go forth and fall in love, poetry style, with the Operating System’s 4th Annual 30-on-30-in-30 Poetry Month Celebration.

Want more National Poetry Month?
Spend each day in April with The Operating System.
Learn About National Poetry Month from the Academy of American Poets.
Read blog entries, online poetry sources, and get writing prompts from NaPoWriMo.
Celebrate NaPoMo with WordPress: Celebrating poetry, all month long.
30 ways to celebrate National Poetry Month, from the Academy of American Poets.

Posted in National Poetry Month, Saturday Poetry, Saturday Poetry Series | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

SATURDAY POETRY SERIES PRESENTS: MIRIAM’S SONG

Feuerbach_Mirjam_2

“Miriam the prophetess” by Anselm Feuerbach. Public Domain image.


“Miriam the prophetess… took the tambourine in her hand; and all the women followed her with tambourines and dances. And Miriam called to them: Sing…” (Exodus 15:20-21)




Editor’s Note: The most important thing that has happened to Passover this year is the Notorious RBG’s decree that when we remember the Exodus, we need to remember the women. First and foremost among them, for me, is Miriam. The unsung hero of what is usually thought of as “Moses’ story,” Miriam is responsible for everything from Moses’ birth to his survival to providing water for the Israelites throughout their forty-year-sovereign in the desert. The first person in the Bible to be called a prophet, Miriam was beloved by her people but less-loved by her creator, who struck her down with leprosy to teach her the consequences of a woman voicing her opinion.

Song is one of the oldest forms of poetry, and the poetry of the Bible is one of the oldest written records of poetry we have. Sadly, all that remains of Miriam’s song in the Bible is a call to action: “And Miriam called to them: Sing…”

We are lucky, therefore, that Debbie Friedman (1951-2011) picked up this mantle. In “Miriam’s Song” she joins her voice with a new generation of women to remember and celebrate the heroine of the Passover story, responding to the prophetess’ call to action: “Sing.” Beloved by women and men alike all the world over, Debbie Friedman and “Miriam’s Song” are the kinds of modern Passover traditions we need. Inclusive and powerful, shedding new light on ancient traditions. For, as Debbie Friedman reminds us, “The more our voices are heard in song, the more we become our lyrics, our prayers, and our convictions.”

Want more Miriam, Debbie Friedman, and Feminist Passover?
Read the lyrics to “Miriam’s Song” by Debbie Friedman on Ritualwell
Debbie Friedman via the Jewish Women’s Archive
Miriam via the Jewish Women’s Archive
Buy The Journey Continues: The Ma’yan Passover Haggadah on Amazon

Posted in Saturday Poetry, Saturday Poetry Series | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments