I HEAR AMERICA SINGING
Okay, okay, I know I used a flag picture before, but that was for the March issue to show the effects of March winds. This is July, when all Americans wax patriotic. Some Americans, like Walt Whitman our Poet of the Month, waxed patriotic and poetic. How different our time is from his! Frequently today you find poets, along with singers and movie stars, joining politicians to make points by attacking government, usually along party lines. When one such self-made authority misquotes William Shakespeare, however, all poets regardless of political party feel abused, for Shakespeare was first of all loyal to two monarchs (Elizabeth I and James I), and, second, certainly a better writer than the one Barbra Streisand recently quoted and whose words she ascribed to Shakespeare. When corrected, she retorted that Shakespeare should have written what she quoted. I am sure he did not roll over in his grave at Holy Trinity Church in Stratford. He has been misquoted for over four hundred years, and what is worse even than Streisand's adding to the canon of his work is the multitude of critics taking his works away from him, saying he never wrote any of his poems and plays, that Francis Bacon wrote them or Edward de Vere (Earl of Oxford) or some other Shakespeare contemporary, that obviously Shakespeare never had the education needed to write them.
But Streisand aside (she is obviously one of us, the
"people who need people" who should be remembered as "the way we were"
before talking politics), Donald Foster, a professor at Vassar, in a
1995 front-page story in The New York Times, announced the
discovery of a funeral elegy of 578 lines that computer analysis proved
conclusively to him and Richard Abrams, professor at the University of
Southern Maine, Foster's associate in the study, to be the work of
Shakespeare. So believable was their claim, that the elegy was promptly
added to three major editions of Shakespeare's work. Just last summer,
however, both professors were eating crow--la corneille,
actually, since it was a French scholar, Gilles D. Monsarrat, a
professor at the University of Burgundy, who threw out the computer
study for a textual analysis that convinced the world of Shakespearean
scholars, including even Foster and Abrams, that the elegy was the work
of John Ford (1586-1640). Ford is at last honored for what he wrote, and
Shakespeare is not dishonored for what he didn't write. This
brings me back to July, a month for parades and speeches full of
assertions, some of which in the heat of the moment may still be true.
In my opinion one of the best poems on politicians and politics is a
satirical sonnet by e. e. cummings. Click
here to read cummings's take on political speeches:
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MSPS STATE CONVENTION
POEMS BY MEMBERS
THE MOVE: A CINQUAIN
Recycling, we all agree
If things could go in one big bag,
One for glass and one for tins,
Each group has to be separate
Tomorrow's the monthly recycle;
Drive down to the store to buy them.
A farmer lives in the valley of
A child is born in the valley of
But fog remains in the valley of
IN THE DIRECTION OF RAISINS
Loneliness hangs heavy
I fear that I
Vines bear the burden
With shoulders slumped
I didn't say
When Chopin played his "Minute
When I pound out its three-four beat
In all its varied tempos, I'm
She pulled a blanket of gray fleece
O basket of summer fruit,
Hold me up on Your wings of prayer.
You who created the seven stars even
To let me know that you are there,
Occupy the vacant stare
Your tender hand and tears we share
To let me know that you are there.
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