by Gwendolyn Brooks

Page 7

I wrote this out as a kind of sauce for the poem, perhaps. In addition to other things I wanted to say on this subject of the young killing themselves is, "You're going to die soon, soon enough." And I wrote here "Soon enough you'll begin to notice the rapid passing of time, especially when you get married and start a family. Certainly those little children are not the same two days in a row." About that time I believe many women become conscious that time really is moving. Suddenly, too, you observe that your little quick- trotting mother begins to wobble and wain. I was at a hotel recently and I sat down for room service and a young waiter came up and he looked rather tense, and I said "Good morning." And he said, "Oh, thank you, thank you." Already life early in the morning had begun to deal with him and he was grateful for just a smile so that is something that we can all do to make life different and bearable. So here is that poem I wrote some years ago, but after seeing that show it took on a whole new meaning. "The Contemplation of Suicide":

One poises, poses at track, or range, or river,
Saying, What is the fact of my life, to what do I tend?--
And is it assured and sweet that I have come, after mazes
     and robins, after the foodless swallowings and snatchings
     at fog, to this foppish end?
(Knowing that downtown the sluggish shrug their shoul-
ders, slink, talk.)

Then, though one can think of no fact, no path, no ground,
Some little thing, remarkless and daily, relates
Its common cliche. One lunges or lags on, prates.--
Too selfish to be nothing while beams break, surf's epi-
     leptic, chicken reeks or squalls.

And I'm going to close with a children's poem, and it's subtly called "Speech to the Young / Speech to the Progress-Toward." And I'm sure that Emily would have felt this way if she had lived into this most challenging time.

(Among them Nora and Henry III)

Say to them,
say to the down-keepers,
the sun-slappers,
the self-soilers,
the harmony-hushers,
"Even if you are not ready for day
it cannot always be night."
You will be right.
For that is the hard home-run.

Live not for battles won.
Live not for the-end-of-the-song.
Live in the along.

I feel we're all little girls and boys in that case. Thank you.

  previous page
table of contents
search the archives

  Titanic Operas Main Page
Copyright 1999 by Martha Nell Smith, all rights reserved
Maintained by Rebecca Mooney  <rnmooney@umd.edu>
Last updated on March 10, 2008
Dickinson Electronic Archives