Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Poetry As Protection


A student chooses a poem to explicate in class, a poem I had never read or heard. It is a complete surprise and brings enlightenment, peace, comfort--all the reactions one could expect from good poetry.

The student chose to read the poem on the same day as a UK terrorist attack, and within days of North Korea revealing a video of nuclear weapons blowing up a US warship.

News should be read with leather chaps, or a shield. Today's protection is poetry.

At the Un-National Monument Along the Canadian Border
by William Stafford

This is the field where the battle did not happen,
where the unknown soldier did not die.
This is the field where grass joined hands,
where no monument stands,
and the only heroic thing is the sky. 

Birds fly here without any sound,
unfolding their wings across the open.
No people killed—or were killed—on this ground
hallowed by neglect and an air so tame
that people celebrate it by forgetting its name.

Three years ago, Germany was under fire for not celebrating the anniversary of WWI.**

Germans aren't sure how, or even if, they should commemorate a war that cost them 13 percent of their territory, all their colonies, huge reparations and 2.5 million lives. The government is under fire for its inactivity.
The opposition Left party has criticized the government for failing to schedule any major events and for spending just 4.7 million euros on the anniversary, while Britain and France are devoting about 60 million euros each to this summer's centenial.

After discovering William Stafford's poem, I wonder, once again if we have it all wrong.