Anthology in Response to September 11
Includes Works by Many Yaddo Poets
Photo by Susan Unterberg
Saratoga Springs, NY (December 17, 2001) —
Yaddo poet Joan Murray is the editor of a new anthology, Poems to Live By in Uncertain Times, compiled in the wake of the September 11 terrorist attacks in the United States.
Ms. Murray was invited to put together a book after she read her poem "Survivors Found" on National Public Radio's "Morning Edition" program shortly after the events of September 11. For the anthology, she chose poems that explore loss, suffering, hope, anxiety, war, and prayer. Included in the international collection are poets such as Yeats, Auden, Cavafy, Montale, Seamus Heaney, Gwendolyn Brooks, Sharon Olds, Billy Collins, and a number of Yaddo writers in addition to Ms. Murray and Ms. Brooks.
The anthology is from Beacon Press and was published December 14. It has been specially featured at Borders Books nationwide. For more information about the book or to read Ms. Murray's poem "Survivors Found," visit www.beacon.org.
Ms. Murray has kindly provided the following excerpts from this new book.
SAMPLER FROM POEMS TO LIVE BY
from WHEN AUTUMN CAME
This is the way that autumn came to the trees:
it stripped them down to the skin,
left their ebony bodies naked.
It shook out the yellow leaves which were their hearts,
scattered them over the ground. . . .
Oh, God of May, have mercy.
Bless these withered bodies
with the passion of your resurrection,
make their dead veins flow with blood.
Give some tree the gift of green again.
Let one bird sing.
by Faiz Ahmed Faiz
(He was the foremost poet of Pakistan.)
MY CHILD BLOSSOMS SADLY
My child blossoms sadly.
He blossoms in spring without me,
he ripens in the sadness of my not being there.
I saw a cat playing with her kittens.
I shall not teach my son war,
I shall not teach him at all. I shall not be.
He puts sand in a small bucket.
He makes a sand cake.
I put sand in my body.
The cake crumbles. My body.
by Yehuda Amichai
(He was the foremost poet of Israel.)
AN EARTHLY BEAUTY
Others have described
the metal bull placed over fire,
it singing while the man inside it died.
Which emperor listened, in which country,
doesn't matter, though surely
the thing itself was built by slaves.
An uneartly music, all reports agree.
We--the civilized--hearing this story,
recoil from it in horror: Not us. Not ours.
But why does my heart look back at me,
reproachful? Why does the bull?
by Jane Hirshfield
(She has been a frequent Yaddo guest.)
from SOMEHOW WE SURVIVE
Somehow we survive
and tenderness, frustrated, does not wither.
Investigating searchlights rake
our naked unprotected contours. . . .
Patrols uncoil along the asphalt dark
hissing their menace to our lives,
most cruel, all our land is scarred with terror,
rendered unlovely and unlovable;
sundered are we and all our passionate surrender
but somehow tenderness survives.
by Dennis Brutus
(He was imprisoned for opposing apartheid.)