The Write Idea

02/25/2010

No People are Uninteresting

Filed under: Poetry — ljcollins @ 4:12 pm
Tags: , ,

In my first semester at Guilford College I took an interdisciplinary course required of all entering students that remains, to this day, one of my favorite academic classes ever. Our first reading assignment, Maya Angelou’s I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, set the stage for exploration of the interaction of our inner and outer worlds. We read Faulkner, Tillich, Asimov and many other great writers and thinkers. In my own section of the course, each period began with a recitation of Russian poet Yevgeny Yevtushenko’s “People.”   Enjoy.

People

No people are uninteresting.
Their fate is like the chronicle of planets.

Nothing in them is not particular,
and planet is dissimilar from planet.

And if a man lived in obscurity
making his friends in that obscurity
obscurity is not uninteresting.

To each his world is private,
and in that world one excellent minute.

And in that world, one tragic minute.
These are private.

In any man who dies there dies with him
his first snow and kiss and fight.
It goes with him.

They are left books and bridges
and painted canvas and machinery.

Whose fate is to survive.
But what has gone is also not nothing:

by the rule of the game something has gone.
Not people die but worlds die in them.

Whom we knew as faulty, the earth’s creatures.
Of whom, essentially, what did we know?

Brother of a brother? Friend of friends?
Lover of lover?

We who knew our fathers
in everything, in nothing.

They perish. The cannot be brought back.
The secret worlds are not regenerated.

And every time again and again
I make my lament against destruction.

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9 Comments »

  1. Oh Laura. Thank you for sharing this. The one thing I’ve decided to do when this semester is over — because I suck at teaching “academic” writing — is to give each of my students a packet of literature: novel excerpts, short prose pieces, and poems that I have loved. I believe the way writing is taught at my school is a huge turnoff. I want the students to understand why someone might really LOVE to write. I’m going to include this poem. 🙂

    Comment by PJ — 02/25/2010 @ 5:05 pm | Reply

  2. Good for you, PJ. Glad you like the poem. Having it read aloud over and over during the semester by different voices added to the affect. Maybe you could read good writing aloud from time to time.

    Comment by ljcollins — 02/25/2010 @ 5:15 pm | Reply

  3. Who taught your IDS class? Mine was equally good (and horrifying because Jonathon was the professor, and Perlis, Dan, and Sieverts were in it). I was lucky to get out alive. I struggled and made a C, but to this day I value everything we read and discussed (and thought).

    Comment by Katherine — 02/25/2010 @ 7:22 pm | Reply

  4. excellent.
    full of great imagery

    Comment by kseverny — 02/25/2010 @ 8:17 pm | Reply

  5. Hey — welcome, kseverny. some beautiful imagery on your blog, too. (visual and poetic — love the food shots). thanks for stopping in.

    Comment by ljcollins — 02/25/2010 @ 8:59 pm | Reply

  6. Katherine — I had Jerry Godard. Your group sounds amazing.

    Comment by ljcollins — 02/25/2010 @ 9:37 pm | Reply

  7. Laura, thank you for introducing me to this. Wow. Just, wow.

    Comment by Paul in ABQ — 02/25/2010 @ 9:45 pm | Reply

  8. You’re welcome, Paul.

    Comment by ljcollins — 02/25/2010 @ 9:58 pm | Reply

  9. Yevtushenko’s “People” really got to me – thanks! 🙂

    Comment by David H. — 03/01/2010 @ 10:58 am | Reply


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