{an untrammeled mind}


After Psalm 137

Anne Porter

We’re still in Babylon but
We do not weep
Why should we weep?
We have forgotten
How to weep

We’ve sold our harps
And bought ourselves machines
That do our singing for us
And who remembers now
The songs we sang in Zion?

We have got used to exile
We hardly notice
Our captivity
For some of us
There are such comforts here
Such luxuries

Even a guard
To keep the beggars
From annoying us

Jerusalem
We have forgotten you.

These lines came to mind after reading the latest SorryWatch about a charming non-gated Bay Area community of charming people genteelly behaving in ways both racist and uncharming. Oh, the irony of people living in a suburb of a city called San Jose, objecting to people of Latino ancestry… Anyway, onward to kinder thoughts: this poem isn’t my favorite of her works (that is “A List of Praises” which is utterly delightful), but I favor this poet, Anne Porter, excessively, not the least because her first book of poetry was published at the age of… eighty-three. The wife of influential artist Fairfield Porter, Anne Porter, who passed away at the age of 99 in 2011, typed away on a clunky manual typewriter until her last day, scribbling bits of poetry on the backs of envelopes and invitations, keeping everything, even her creativity, until the very end. She is quoted in a 2006 Wall Street Journal article as saying, “People don’t use their creativity as they get older …[t]hey think this is supposed to be the end of this and the end of that. But you can’t always be so sure that it is the end.”

Let no one tell you what your limit is, except you. Hold to your determination to do and to be, defend it to the tiniest scrap of territory. “Never give in. Never give in. Never, never, never, never — in nothing, great or small, large or petty — never give in, except to convictions of honor and good sense.” Mr. Churchill’s exhortation extends to all of us. .

2 Replies to “{an untrammeled mind}”

  1. Beautiful! Thanks for sharing! Hits home for me! I love how you stumble across things every day that fit so perfectly into your life, either naturally or by way of knowing you need to make room for them. Love this!

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