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  • Glenn Sonnenberg

Musings from the Bunker 11/14/20

Happy Saturday!

What a week…

MUSIC


Here is a wonderful performance of Beethoven’s Seventh Symphony by the L.A. Philharmonic at an empty Hollywood Bowl: https://soundstage.laphil.com/beethoven/

Here’s John Lennon’s “Imagine,” by the Pentatonix, arranged by Julie and Steve Bram’s son Ben: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NLiWFUDJ95I

Finally, John Legend singing Stevie Wonder: https://www.instagram.com/tv/B920EARl9XS/?utm_source=ig_embed

POETRY


This is a classic 20th century masterpiece…

What Kind of Times Are These

By Adrienne Rich

There's a place between two stands of trees where the grass grows uphill

and the old revolutionary road breaks off into shadows

near a meeting-house abandoned by the persecuted

who disappeared into those shadows.

I've walked there picking mushrooms at the edge of dread, but don't be fooled

this isn't a Russian poem, this is not somewhere else but here,

our country moving closer to its own truth and dread,

its own ways of making people disappear.

I won't tell you where the place is, the dark mesh of the woods

meeting the unmarked strip of light—

ghost-ridden crossroads, leafmold paradise:

I know already who wants to buy it, sell it, make it disappear.

And I won't tell you where it is, so why do I tell you

anything? Because you still listen, because in times like these

to have you listen at all, it's necessary

to talk about trees.

I wanted to read more about this poem. I found these discussion points from the Center for Civic Reflection interesting:

In "What Kind of Times Are These"(1995), [Rich] describes a shadowy place in the woods where "the persecuted" have vanished—a place she refuses to locate except by saying that it is "not somewhere else but here." This parable-like poem raises difficult questions about the nature and dangers of leadership and the complicity of ordinary citizens in their government's uses (and abuses) of power. How can people, a place or a past be made to "disappear"? Why does Rich say that it is important to "talk about trees" in response? In what way is this kind of talk "necessary"?

And then I found this quote by Bertolt Brecht, who wrote Life of Galileo, The Caucasian Chalk Circle and The Threepenny Opera with Kurt Weill (which gave us “Mack the Knife”):


"What kind of times are these, when

To talk about trees is almost a crime

Because it implies silence about so many horrors?

Have a great weekend,

Glenn


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