09/11/03
Remembering 9/11 in Poetry
    by John Cech

Brief sound clip

That's Tahkus Ekedal singing the first verse of Ted Arnold's setting of Emily Dickinson's poem, "Hope is the Thing with Feathers" from the CD "The Days Gone By, Songs of the American Poets."

The complete Dickinson poem is included in a volume from Candlewick Press called This Place I Know, Poems of Comfort. The poems were selected by Georgia Heard and illustrated by some of the most interesting artists working on children's books today, including Peter Sis, Petra Mathers, Kevin Hawkes, Giselle Porter, and Chris Raschka. A portion of the profits from the book go to Save the Children.

While not specifically about the tragic and transforming events of September 11th, nevertheless this collection is about the power of poetry to offer solace, a thing that children need at least as much as adults, and that everyone need in times like these. We need to fly with Langston Hughes' "Dreams"; let life shine, like Gwendolyn Brooks does in her "A Little Girl's Poem"; follow Susan Marie Swanson's lead in her "Trouble, Fly":

Trouble, fly
out of our house.
We left the window
open for you.

and find tranquility in the those natural places Wendell Berry describes in "The Peace of Wild Things." And perhaps what is always the most comforting, sustaining thing, for children or adults, is to have caring people with them on life's journey. As Karla Kuskin writes:

I think I could walk
through the simmering sand
if I held your hand.
I think I could swim
the skin shivering sea
if you would accompany me.

Copyright 2003 John Cech

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