We Mean To Be the People We Mean to Be
(A New Year, 2015)
Not resolutions – not exactly – but more importantly, a striving to be better than we are – a new beginning – not just at the beginning of a new year – but every day.
In honoring and in recognition of the death of poet-writer-editor, Miller Williams’ death on Jan 1, 2015 or Alzheimer’s, I cannot help but think of the loss of this great talent, this great mind that wrote – among many things, the poem “Of History and Hope” that he delivered at President John F. Kennedy’s 2nd Inauguration – especially the lines:
“But where are we going to be, and why, and who?
The disenfranchised dead want to know.
We mean to be the people we meant to be,
To keep on going where we meant to go.”
What if we spent money on Alzheimer’s research and cancer research instead of on weapons and war?
Miller Williams’ home was said to be a Salon – where he entertained Charles Bukowski and Jimmy Carter. Negative Capability is the home of a local salon – dubbed Octavia’s Salon – named after Madam Octavia LeVert who lived in Mobile, Alabama (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Octavia_Walton_Le_Vert) following her marriage to Dr. Henry LeVert in 1811 until the time of her death in 1877. Edgar Allen Poe once wrote a love poem for her.
But – a personal recollection re Miller Williams is when, in an exchange about publishing Negative Capability, he asked if I would like to publish some poems by Jimmy Carter. The answer was “Of Course!” In the 1994, Vols 1-2, issue of Negative Capability, we published 5 of President Carter’s poems: “A Reflection of Beauty in Washington,” “Hollow Eyes, Bellies, Hearts, “Contemplation Of What Has Been Created, and Why,” and “A Winter Morning.”
Here is Carter’s poem, “A Reflection Of Beauty In Washington”
I recall one winter night
going to the White House roof
to study the Orion nebulae.
But we could barely
see the stars,
their images so paled by city lights.
Suddenly we heard an eerie sound
Primeval in its tone and rhythm
Coming from the north.
We turned to watch in silence
Long wavering V’s
Breasts transformed to brilliance
By the lights we would have dimmed.
The geese passed overhead,
and then without a word
we descended to a peaceful sleep,
marveling at what we’d seen and heard.
Yes, peace. And thank you President Carter and Miller Williams for your lasting gifts. And a Happy New Year from Negative Capability Press. (Sue Walker)