I wanted to write something about the twin towers disaster anniversary. The way I begin these posts is to find an appropriate poem. It may not be a poem that narratively expresses the situation but it usually expresses my emotional state when I am writing the piece. This is the reason I include the poems. You remember history and events well, but the emotional zeitgeist can slip away over time. Poetry is emotion embodied in word, and I use it to fix my emotions at a point in time.
So I searched for poems about towers and by chance I came across this poem by Countee Cullen, one of the Harlem Rennaissance writers of the 1920’s. I never read Cullen before and I was delighted to find this poem in particular. You will see why.
When you read the poem from the perspective of a Negro in the USA of the 1920’s it is quite clear that this is a poem which dreams of a future equality of man, even a celebration of being black.
But this is the 11th of September, the anniversary of the attacks on the World Trade Centre. Imagine you are standing at ground zero. Imagine a crowd before you of those bereaved by the disaster. Now read the poem to them.
How powerful is this?
From the Dark Tower: by Countee Cullen
We shall not always plant while others reap
The golden increment of bursting fruit,
Not always countenance, abject and mute
That lesser men should hold their brothers cheap;
Not everlastingly while others sleep
Shall we beguile their limbs with mellow flute,
Not always bend to some more subtle brute;
We were not made eternally to weep.
The night whose sable breast relieves the stark
White stars is no less lovely being dark,
And there are buds that cannot bloom at all
In light, but crumple, piteous, and fall;
So in the dark we hide the heart that bleeds,
And wait, and tend our agonizing seeds.