Apparently today is the blue-est day of the year, in terms of people’s moods, at least here where it was a story on the news tonight. I’m not sure how wide-reaching this idea of the most depressing day of the year is; one assumes it’s a cheerier time in the southern hemisphere and in sunnier climes than it is here in the fog and the grey.
On this blue day — as it seems to be for more people I’ve talked to than not — I wanted to think about something that touches my soul instead of the giant pile of stuff on my desk or the fact that there are simply too few hours in the day, or any of the frustrating things it can be easy to focus on and get wrapped up in if we let ourselves.
What are some of the things you’re lucky to have in your life or in your thoughts or in your heart? My list, thankfully, is long, a truth for which I’m abundantly grateful. But for the sake of this blog, I’m going to tell you about one tiny, wonderful memory I realized recently is one I cherish, something special that means a lot to me. Here it is:
Thanks to a keynote address at the Surrey International Writers’ Conference one year (I don’t remember which), I am lucky enough to have James Elroy Flecker’s “To a Poet a Thousand Years Hence” in my head, recited in Anne Perry’s voice. If you’ve never been lucky enough to hear Anne Perry talk, I highly recommend it (she’ll be back at SiWC this year). She’s a gifted speaker, and there is little that reminds me of the enduring gift of words and the connections they can forge through space and time than the memory of her reciting this poem:
I who am dead a thousand years,
And wrote this sweet archaic song,
Send you my words for messengers
The way I shall not pass along.
I care not if you bridge the seas,
Or ride secure the cruel sky,
Or build consummate palaces
Of metal or of masonry.
But have you wine and music still,
And statues and a bright-eyed love,
And foolish thoughts of good and ill,
And prayers to them who sit above?
How shall we conquer? Like a wind
That falls at eve our fancies blow,
And old Moeonides the blind
Said it three thousand years ago.
O friend unseen, unborn, unknown,
Student of our sweet English tongue,
Read out my words at night, alone:
I was a poet, I was young.
Since I can never see your face,
And never shake you by the hand,
I send my soul through time and space
To greet you. You will understand.
Isn’t that lovely? Please feel free to share some of your own special, small memories in the comments. I’d love to hear them.
(To the best of my knowledge, this poem is in the public domain in both Canada and the US. If you know otherwise, please let me know!)