Guest poem sent in by Aseem
(Poem #1707) Blowin' in the Wind
How many roads must a man walk down Before you call him a man? Yes, 'n' how many seas must a white dove sail Before she sleeps in the sand? Yes, 'n' how many times must the cannon balls fly Before they're forever banned? The answer, my friend, is blowin' in the wind, The answer is blowin' in the wind. How many years can a mountain exist Before it's washed to the sea? Yes, 'n' how many years can some people exist Before they're allowed to be free? Yes, 'n' how many times can a man turn his head, And pretend he just doesn't see? The answer, my friend, is blowin' in the wind, The answer is blowin' in the wind. How many times must a man look up Before he can see the sky? Yes, 'n' how many ears must one man have Before he can hear people cry? Yes, 'n' how many deaths will it take till he knows That too many people have died? The answer, my friend, is blowin' in the wind, The answer is blowin' in the wind.
If there's ever a song that cries out to be memorised - this is it. I can still remember being nine years old and listening to it over and over, trying to ensure that the words would stay in my head forever. It wasn't just that the words were beautiful and moving (if anything the message of war and oppression seemed far less relevant then - back in the 80's, at the age of 9 - than it does now); it was that listening to the rhythm of the questions and the soft strumming of the guitar and that simple, weary, heartfelt and almost speaking voice that could only be Dylan, I was discovering what poetry really was. Not just pretty images and melodic rhymes, not just fine sounding words arranged in neat stanzas, not just daffodils and boys on burning decks, but the voice of a real person, an attitude, a way of looking at the world. The folksy "Yes 'n"'s notwithstanding, this is a great poem. Not just because the rhyme scheme works perfectly, and the pattern of three repeated questions is brilliant and the metaphors are powerful and the lines themselves are memorable; but because it's a collection of a few simple words that has the power to reach out and grab you by the heart. Because every time you see the war footage on CNN or the pictures from Abu Ghraib or Sudan or 9/11, the words will come back to haunt you. Because long after Dylan is dead generations of singers and activists will find in these simple lyrics a sense of understanding and the courage to go on. Because this simple little song sums up the entire history of the human endeavour: our struggle to define ourselves as people, our quest for peace and our bewilderment at the world's cruelty. Because there's something about this song that makes it an authentic poetic experience, something that you can't pin down but can't help feeling, something that is, well, "blowin' in the wind". Aseem