(Poem #938) Everything Changes
after Brecht, 'Alles wandelt sich' Everything changes. We plant trees for those born later but what's happened has happened, and poisons poured into the seas cannot be drained out again. What's happened has happened poisons poured into the seas cannot be drained out again, but everything changes. We plant trees for those born later.
A gem of a poem, clever without being pretentious, sincere without being sentimental, and quietly optimistic without being irritatingly warm and fuzzy. It's that last point which matters most to me, I suppose: heaven knows the world could do with a bit more optimism, yet there are times when I have nothing but impatience for the way people cheapen even this simple emotion. Optimism is not the mindless repetition of twee platitudes. It is not the blind rejection of the perversity of the world, or the unthinking refusal to accept that "the best laid plans o' mice an' men / gang aft a-gley". It is not a creation of that most insidious of beasts, political correctness. No, it's something much deeper - it's a taking up of the challenge of life, the joy and the terror, the laughter and the tears. It's a way of accepting the world, and coming to face with it on equal terms. It's a philosophy of life, and let's be thankful that we have poets like Ms Herbert to remind us of this fact. thomas. [Sort of Biography and Stuff] Of Cicely Herbert I know nothing, except the fact that she was one of the three people behind 'Poems on the Underground'. Here are her own words on the subject: "When we began to scatter poems about in public, we had so idea how people would respond; it was all a bit reminiscent of the lovesick youth in the Forest of Arden, hanging "odes upon hawthorns and elegies on brambles". Not that the London Underground is anything like the Forest of Arden; on the contrary, it is the ultimate expression of the modern urban working world. But poetry thrives on paradox, and the poems seemed to take on new and surprising life when they were removed from books and set amongst the adverts. Commuters enjoyed the idea of reading Keats' "Much have I travell'd in the realms of gold" on a crowded Central Line train, or trying to memorise a sonnet between Leicester Square and Hammersmith. Just as we had hoped, the poems provided relief, caused smiles, offered refreshment to the soul -- and all in a place where one would least expect to find anything remotely poetic." -- Gerard Benson, Judith Chernaik, Cicely Herbert -- Introduction to "Poems on the Underground (print anthology)" The back cover of the book has this potted biography: "Cicely Herbert is a writer, a member of the Barrow Poets, and an adult education teacher. She has written several performance pieces with music by Jim Parker. These include, for BBC TW, "Petticoat Lane", and two concert pieces commissioned by the Nash Ensemble, "Scenes from Victorian London" and "La Comedie Humaine". Her poetry includes "In Hospital", 1992." -- "Poems on the Underground (print anthology)" [Minstrels Links] Yes, poetry can be wonderfully uplifting. Read the following: Poem #177, Where The Mind is Without Fear -- Rabindranath Tagore Poem #218, Psalm 23 -- David Poem #337, Jimmy Giuffre Plays 'The Easy Way' -- Adrian Mitchell Poem #392, Good -- R. S. Thomas Poem #874, Sometimes -- Sheenagh Pugh Poem #103, Jenny Kissed Me -- James Leigh Hunt Poem #14, Prologue -- Dylan Thomas Incidentally, the Burns quote I used above is from Poem #776, To A Mouse -- Robert Burns