Wednesday, August 26, 2009


Edward Kennedy, 1932-2009

A quiet poem for such a public man, but reading "Mountain Dulcimer" on the Poetry Foundation web site this morning, I was moved by the poem's ability to embody both mourning and celebration at once, what I feel at the death of Ted Kennedy, the extraordinary senator from Massachusetts. And so I offer it below, with gratitude for Ted's lifelong commitment to justice.

Mountain Dulcimer

by Robert Morgan

Where does such sadness in wood come
from? How could longing live in these
wires? The box looks like the most fragile
coffin tuned for sound. And laid
across the knees of this woman
it looks less like a baby nursed
than some symbolic Pietà,
and the stretched body on her lap
yields modalities of lament
and blood, yields sacrifice and sliding
chants of grief that dance and dance toward
a new measure, a new threshold,
a new instant and new year which
we always celebrate by
remembering the old and by
recalling the lost and honoring
those no longer here to strike these
strings like secrets of the most
satisfying harmonies, as
voices join in sadness and joy
and tell again what we already
know, have always known but forget,
from way back in the farthest cove,
from highest on the peaks of love.

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