The Friday Poem ‘The Persistence of Song’ by Howard Moss

The Friday Poem this week is ‘The Persistence of Song’ by Howard Moss, the poetry editor of The New Yorker for almost forty years.

“In that influential capacity, this quiet, unassuming man was one of the key figures in American letters in the late twentieth century, boosting the careers of many young poets by publishing their work in one of the few mass circulation magazines which bought poetry and paid well for it.”

This one is for the mentors who open doors, make connections and by their presence create a model to be imitated.

The poem appeared in The New Yorker in the fall of 1966 and takes us to a time in the city, when life after work was anticipated ..” When the secretaries have changed their frocks, And though it is not yet evening, There is a persistence of song.”

The Persistence of Song

Although it is not yet evening,
The secretaries have changed their frocks
As if it were time for dancing,
And locked up in the scholars’ books
There is a kind of rejoicing,
There is a kind of singing
That even the dark stone canyon makes
As though all fountains were going
At once, and the color flowed from bricks
In one wild, lit upsurging.

What is the weather doing?
And who arrived on a scallop shell
With the smell of the sea this morning?
-Creating a small upheaval
High above the scaffolding
By saying, “All will be well.
There is a kind of rejoicing.”

Is there a kind of rejoicing
In saying, “All will be well?”
High above the scaffolding,
Creating a small upheaval,
The smell of the sea this morning
Arrived on a scallop shell.
What was the weather doing
In one wild, lit upsurging?
At once, the color flowed from bricks
As though all fountains were going,
And even the dark stone canyon makes
Here a kind of singing,
And there a kind of rejoicing,
And locked up in the scholars’ books
There is a time for dancing
When the secretaries have changed their frocks,
And though it is not yet evening,

There is the persistence of song.

Howard Moss  The New Yorker, November 19, 1966

 

 

 

 

 

 

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