When asked what she wanted most from Poetry, Sharon Olds, winner of the Pulitzer for Poetry in 2013 said “I want a poem to be useful.” I love that. And really, I think anyone who has journeyed through the vicissitudes of life, leaning on poetry all the way, recognizes this simple, kind truth.
Probably I’ve have mentioned before that “Lyric” in the naming of Lyric Fest was more than a nod to the word part of the songs we present. Randi, Laura and I all come to our song festival with a profound appreciation for poetry and words. It’s often the place we start and where we end up, when all is said and done in our programs.
For this reason, I was intrigued by a statement that Laura made recently, that for her this program was “a breath of fresh air”. Why do you say that? I asked. She said “the only agenda here is the poem, the words of these poets, the breadth of their expression.”
So that’s our theme. Poems. Specifically, American Poems, a little more specifically, poems of American Women. In the next days I’ll indulge myself and you in thoughts on all these poems, beginning with those of Emily Dickinson, but for today, all I have to bring is the generous, useful poem that opens our concert…
It’s all I have to bring today – Emily Dickinson
This, and my heart beside –
This, and my heart, and all the fields –
And all the meadows wide –
Be sure you count – should I forget
Some one the sum could tell –
This, and my heart, and all the Bees
Which in the Clover dwell.
(I’d love to share the historic and beautiful version of Eleanor Steber, but sadly, it’s not available on youtube. Instead, I came across this lovely version of a young singer at a competition in Austria. Enjoy.)