Solstice Thoughts

Solstice Thoughts

by Bob Boldt

At the end of the War in Europe, Norman Corwin broadcast these words
to the war weary world. In a time that had just emerged from the prospect of an eternal darkness dominated by Hitler’s fascism, Corwin
penned these words of profound hope, justice and peace.

Now we look to the prospect of a world far more dire and dark even
than that which the world faced during the conflicts that raged in
WWII. We former hopeful dreamers, we poets and wordsmiths must now forge new words to warm our despairing hearts through this new time of
darkness.

Norman Corwin:

“Lord God of test-tube and blueprint
Who jointed molecules of dust and shook them till their name was Adam,
Who taught worms and stars how they could live together,
Appear now among the parliaments of conquerors and give instruction to
their schemes:
Measure out new liberties so none shall suffer for his father’s color
or the credo of his choice:
Post proofs that brotherhood is not so wild a dream as those who
profit by postponing it pretend:
Sit at the treaty table and convoy the hopes of the little peoples
through expected straits,
And press into the final seal a sign that peace will come for longer
than posterities can see ahead,
That man unto his fellow man shall be a friend forever.”

On May 8, 1945, 60 million Americans tuned in to hear On A Note of
Triumph, Norman Corwin’s radio masterpiece marking the end of World
War II in Europe. Lauded by Carl Sandburg as “one of the all-time
great American poems,” it was the most listened-to radio drama in U.S.
history.

I write on the darkest night of the year, in the deepest freeze of the
year in the midst of a people who have turned from the light. In my
all night vigil, I await the last great tick of the Mayan Long Count
calendar. This will end an age that only the superior spiritual and
mathematical minds of one of the greatest civilizations on the New
World could have anticipated. The present moment feels like all light,
all hope, all truth are entombed and imprisoned deep within the earth.
Tonight my thoughts go out to all who lie in prisons. My thoughts are
with Julian Assange, punished for speaking truth to power. My thoughts
are with Leonard Peltier punished for championing his people. My
thoughts tonight are locked down with Mumia Abu-Jamal, in a cell of
lies that would stifle his strong voice for freedom. As the shadow of
death passes in its dark waves across from Atlantic to Pacific I
await, in the words of poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti, A Rebirth of
Wonder.

At the end of this long count night I will rise with Horus’ sunrise
rededicated with a new count, a new spirit, ready to help to bring a
last bit of light to this dying world. My brotherhood with all those
we have tortured, killed and imprisoned all over the world is
enshrined within my heart and is shared with all my fellow
lightbearers. We hold tenaciously to this wild dream so strongly that
those profiteers of greed, denial and division will never succeed in
extinguishing it.

In those dark days of World War II so long ago a far better poet saw
our predicament with less hope but far better clarity. Nearly three
quarters of a century later Auden’s words are truer than when they
were composed.

September 1, 1939

I sit in one of the dives
On Fifty-second Street
Uncertain and afraid
As the clever hopes expire
Of a low dishonest decade:
Waves of anger and fear
Circulate over the bright
And darkened lands of the earth,
Obsessing our private lives;
The unmentionable odour of death
Offends the September night.

Accurate scholarship can
Unearth the whole offence
From Luther until now
That has driven a culture mad,
Find what occurred at Linz,
What huge imago made
A psychopathic god:
I and the public know
What all schoolchildren learn,
Those to whom evil is done
Do evil in return.

Exiled Thucydides knew
All that a speech can say
About Democracy,
And what dictators do,
The elderly rubbish they talk
To an apathetic grave;
Analysed all in his book,
The enlightenment driven away,
The habit-forming pain,
Mismanagement and grief:
We must suffer them all again.

Into this neutral air
Where blind skyscrapers use
Their full height to proclaim
The strength of Collective Man,
Each language pours its vain
Competitive excuse:
But who can live for long
In an euphoric dream;
Out of the mirror they stare,
Imperialism’s face
And the international wrong.

Faces along the bar
Cling to their average day:
The lights must never go out,
The music must always play,
All the conventions conspire
To make this fort assume
The furniture of home;
Lest we should see where we are,
Lost in a haunted wood,
Children afraid of the night
Who have never been happy or good.

The windiest militant trash
Important Persons shout
Is not so crude as our wish:
What mad Nijinsky wrote
About Diaghilev
Is true of the normal heart;
For the error bred in the bone
Of each woman and each man
Craves what it cannot have,
Not universal love
But to be loved alone.

From the conservative dark
Into the ethical life
The dense commuters come,
Repeating their morning vow;
“I will be true to the wife,
I’ll concentrate more on my work,”
And helpless governors wake
To resume their compulsory game:
Who can release them now,
Who can reach the deaf,
Who can speak for the dumb?

All I have is a voice
To undo the folded lie,
The romantic lie in the brain
Of the sensual man-in-the-street
And the lie of Authority
Whose buildings grope the sky:
There is no such thing as the State
And no one exists alone;
Hunger allows no choice
To the citizen or the police;
We must love one another or die.

Defenseless under the night
Our world in stupor lies;
Yet, dotted everywhere,
Ironic points of light
Flash out wherever the Just
Exchange their messages:
May I, composed like them
Of Eros and of dust,
Beleaguered by the same
Negation and despair,
Show an affirming flame.

W. H. Auden
(Historical note: on September 1, 1939
Germany invaded Poland initiating WWII in Europe.)

Peace,

Bob

(Editor’s note: We’re hoping Monsanto and Dow Chemical take heed.)

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