Sunday, January 25, 2009

O' Poetry Sing Sweetly (poem)

'Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.'

O' Poetry Sing Sweetly
By Nordette N. Adams

At man's cruel deeds we gape and cry for peace
and wail our stuttered grief upon our knees
that grace will bring succour and wars will cease
before our legacy's death and disease.

Will we embark to change our savage fate
and breathe our hopes to life with breath of stars,
thus, bless ourselves to sing at heaven's gate
or fall as we perpetuate Earth's wars?

If we had not love's joy to pump our blood
and starlight's poetry to calm the heart,
this life would be an endless dark and flood
of foul sorrows polluting each day's start.

O' Poetry, sing sweetly through this night.
So hearing some may rise and seek true light.

© Copyright 2006 Nordette Adams

I posted this poem because I'm working on something for another site about Elizabeth Alexander's poem for the inauguration of President Barack H. Obama. As I read the comments of nonpoets, poets, and poetry critics, I see that there are still people out there who believe poetry must rhyme. Some are saying Alexander's poem wasn't lofty enough and sounded like a junior high school student wrote it.

I disagree. "Praise Song for the Day" is a poem. And there's also something called prose-poem, but some folks cut her no slack for prose either, saying even as prose "Praise Song for the Day" is bad. I read one person's critique of Elizabeth Alexander's work prior to her writing the inaugural poem, and what I got most from what he said was she couldn't be a real poet because he hadn't heard of her.

And politics come into the critique as well. One person gave the poem a hard time because he didn't vote for Obama. Another person left a comment at another site asking, "Was that an Affirmative Action poem?"

I feel that some people take up poetry not for the pleasure or how poetry may illuminate the spirit but so they can feel superior to other people, claim privilege of the initiated and elite. With these types, only their own writing and that of their inner circle is acceptable.

If Alexander produced something like the poem above, critics would be questioning why she chose to rhyme because rhyme is so cliche. Others would have said it was worse than Hallmark card verse because they generally only accept rhyme if Shakespeare writes it. And then there would be those who loved it because, well, it rhymes.

I'm getting a headache writing on this topic, reading all the people who are full of themselves believing they are the only people who know what "true" poetry is. In reality, they represent why so many people fear poetry and say they don't like it. So-called poetry experts make them feel that no one can understand a poem other than residents of the ivory tower.

Self-proclaimed "true" poets or poetry critics can be worse than political pundits, as fanatical as fundamentalist jack-leg preachers, and snobby as Boston's old money.

Anything else I have to say, I'll save for the BlogHer post.


lilalia said...

When listing to Elizabeth Alexander recite her poem, I was moved by it's apparent clarity and flow. Upon reflection and rereading I feel there is more depth and mystery. So it was with Mr. Obama's speech as well. The clarity of their message, underlines at times the precision and intense reflection they must have invested in choosing their words.

Lovebabz said...

I immediatley knew what she was talking about when she recited her poem. The image of her words were clear to me. She wove history and now into a moment.

You expressed this beautifully and profoundly.