#NaBloPoMo 8 -Try to Praise the Mutilated World

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Try to Praise the Mutilated World

 

Try to praise the mutilated world.
Remember June’s long days,
and wild strawberries, drops of rosé wine.
The nettles that methodically overgrow
the abandoned homesteads of exiles.
You must praise the mutilated world.
You watched the stylish yachts and ships;
one of them had a long trip ahead of it,
while salty oblivion awaited others.
You’ve seen the refugees going nowhere,
you’ve heard the executioners sing joyfully.
You should praise the mutilated world.
Remember the moments when we were together
in a white room and the curtain fluttered.
Return in thought to the concert where music flared.
You gathered acorns in the park in autumn
and leaves eddied over the earth’s scars.
Praise the mutilated world
and the gray feather a thrush lost,
and the gentle light that strays and vanishes
and returns.

 

Adam Zagajewski, translated by Clare Cavanagh

 

I remember Michael Laskey saying to me once that our main duty as poets was to praise. It was a comment that filled me with laughter as I think he had just spent the previous five minutes cursing rather volubly at the traffic. Nevertheless, I knew he was serious. He proceeded to reel off a list of poems (MacCaig’s Praise of a Boat and Praise of a Collie were the two that I had heard of) that I absolutely needed to read right away and what was I waiting for? I have returned in my mind to that instruction several times over the last three days. Each time I do, I feel myself pulling back, partly out of caution, partly out of a kind of self-righteous certainty that after Trump there can be no more poetry.

And yet, each time I begin to spiral round these self-fulfilling circuits of despair, I realise again the force of what Michael was saying. Not to praise, not to give thanks for creation, kindness, the ties of family and community, not to wonder at these things is to let evil triumph. I think back to my departed friend Steve Fairnie: what satirical japes he would have had at Trump’s expense. But I also see him urging his audiences not to fall prey to cynicism. It was a luxury we could not afford, he said. Much more preferable, he said, is that we put down our pints and began to make stuff that mattered and that people could connect with. A group. A painting. A dance troupe. Yes, even your poems, Anthony, he said. ‘They’re not exactly Acid House, but they are yours.’ Yes, even poems.

 

With thanks to Deborah Alma, the Emergency Poet

 

14 comments

  1. michael9murray

    In a way a lot/most of the best poems of Les Murray are praise poems. His religion had helped, it has given him the opportunity: God’s world needs praising.
    What men do in it is a completely different matter. He is well aware of that.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. tiostib

    Thank you, this poem is a reminder that it is now, when we are challenged by forces that threaten to darken our perspectives, that we reach into our hearts to express the love that has brought us into existence.

    May I also recommend “The Book of Joy” by the Dalai Lama and Desmond Tutu as another source of inspiration in these stormy times.

    After the grief, we must go back to the work of being loving and good human beings. Again, thank you for shining the light of love on a troubled world.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Marijke Stapert-Eggen

    Thank you for this poem and for making me attent to My Voice, and many other poets.
    Keep the vision flying
    (Wher there is no vision, the people perish… Proverbs 29:18)
    And don’t forget to read Christopher Smart, For I will consider my Cat Jeoffry
    (My ultimate Song of Praise)
    Marijke Stapert-Eggen
    Holland

    Liked by 1 person

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