Poetry and Hope, for many reasons

There is quite a lot of inauguration buzz around me these recent days.  For me, the thing that stands out about this election and this inauguration is that in some major way we won.  An important win.  The racism of Mitt Romney’s and others of the Republican campaigns was so virulent, so wide open, so vast, so carefully calibrated to pull at people’s fears and confusions.  But it didn’t win.  We won.  

Two friends have pointed me to this recently.  One, a beautiful, tireless and hopeful activist, a close friend–posted this quote on her own website as she works, and I do mean works, at caring for herself and keeping life in order as she goes through treatment for cancer.  The second, another beautiful woman, a Jewish woman, just sent it to me this morning.

 It’s Adrienne Rich, but no one has yet been able to identify for me what poem this is from.  If you know where it came from please send the poem’s title and/or the title of the book it is from as a comment or email me privately if you prefer.  

On Monday at the inaugural ceremony we will hear from Richard Blanco– a Latino gay man who will read a poem of his own creation and mind.  I don’t know him or his poetry, nor do I know whether I will love the poem or not.  But I will love that there will be poetry there.  And with Obama’s inauguration and inaugural poetry, more hope and more poetry to come.

What would it mean to live
in a city whose people were changing
each other’s despair into hope? 
You yourself must change it. 
what would it feel like to know
your country was changing? 
You yourself must change it. 
Though your life felt arduous
new and unmapped and strange
what would it mean to stand on the first
page of the end of despair?

Adrienne Rich 1983

3 responses to “Poetry and Hope, for many reasons

  1. I believe it’s from A Dream Upon Waking.

    • Thank you and a big hug to you, Sarna. Just for clarity you gave me the guidance and I found it exactly– it’s called Dreams upon Waking and is from Adrienne’s 1986 volume of poetry, Your Native Land, Your Lifepublished in 1986. We miss her, (Adrienne) don’t we? Her death heightens our obligation to write, make art, show the truths about our lives and perspectives and to encourage others to do so. xo

  2. Thank you, Laura

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