Friday, December 4, 2015

Songs for the Weary

Children make up the best songs, anyway. Better than grown-ups. Kids are always working on songs and throwing them away, like little origami things or paper airplanes. They don't care if they lose it; they'll just make another one.
~Tom Waits

Frances Ellen Watkins Harper

Songs for the People
By Frances Ellen Watkins Harper

Let me make the songs for the people,
Songs for the old and young;
Songs to stir like a battle-cry
Wherever they are sung.

Not for the clashing of sabres,
For carnage nor for strife;
But songs to thrill the hearts of men
With more abundant life.

Let me make the songs for the weary,
Amid life’s fever and fret,
Till hearts shall relax their tension,
And careworn brows forget.

Let me sing for little children,
Before their footsteps stray,
Sweet anthems of love and duty,
To float o’er life’s highway.

I would sing for the poor and aged,
When shadows dim their sight;
Of the bright and restful mansions,
Where there shall be no night.

Our world, so worn and weary,
Needs music, pure and strong,
To hush the jangle and discords
Of sorrow, pain, and wrong.

Music to soothe all its sorrow,
Till war and crime shall cease;
And the hearts of men grown tender
Girdle the world with peace.


Buffy Silverman has the Poetry Friday round-up.


jama said...

Oh yes, how we need music to sooth our sorrow!! Harper is new to me, but then, you always introduce me to new poets. Thanks for always expanding my horizons!

Keri said...

Poetry & music are both balms for my soul. Thank you!! xoxo

cb hanek said...

Thank you so much for introducing Frances Harper to me. We need her timeless poetic benediction today as much (more?) than the pre-WWI world did at the time of her death. “War to end all wars”..if only that had been true. “Our world, so worn and weary, Needs music, pure and strong,” What better, more powerful music than poetry like hers? God bless you. If only Harper’s words would come true—if only the world were girded in peace… Wish I had known about her when I was teaching; hers is a life story well worth sharing with students. Again—thank you!

Buffy Silverman said...

I love that Tom Waits quote--kids making up songs and tossing them away (and the soothing songs of this poem.)

Linda B said...

Ingrid and Imi do make up songs all the time & we often say we need to record them for they are 'thrown away', and then they start again. Thank you for the poem too, although written so long ago, and still we're waiting "To hush the jangle and discords." Yet, it is full of hope, too.

Karen Edmisten said...

Tabatha, this is so lovely. Thank you.

Diane Mayr said...

With the news this week, I've been engulfed in despair. It's good to read something with hope. Thanks for the introduction to Frances Harper.

Michelle Heidenrich Barnes said...

A perfect pairing, this poem with the Tom Waits quote. Just what so many of us needed this week!

Tara Smith said...

The last two stanzas - especially with recent events - really haunting, Tabatha.

Heidi Mordhorst said...

"Our world, so worn and weary,
Needs music, pure and strong"--

oh yes indeed, songs of peace please.
thanks for this, Tabatha.

Mary Lee said...

Exactly what Heidi said. Word for word.

Violet Nesdoly said...

Oh yes. With every day more bad news of happenings in the world, we sure could use...

"Music to soothe all its sorrow,
Till war and crime shall cease;
And the hearts of men grown tender
Girdle the world with peace."

The poem is salve to the spirit.