April - Two Erasures
I had this first erasure waiting in the wings for some opportune time, and the prompt of April seemed to be the time. But, it reads too depressing for this lovely spring time of year, so I erased another. Both are from Edna St. Vincent Millay's Justice Denied in Massachusetts, which is posted at the bottom of the page. Come to think of it, the original is pretty darn depressing itself, the title referring to the controversial arrests, trials and executions of two men, immigrants from Italy (two strikes against them at the time, as anti-Italian and anti-immigrant prejudice was quite prevalent). The poem was published in the New York Times the day before their executions. So, first my depressing erasure, then a cheery April-is-Lovely-Spring-has-Arrived version!
A Last April
Abandon our gardens
The blossom grow sour.
The cold earth we have
cannot warm the sun.
It shall die in the rain.
The sweet weed at the step?
leaving our children
this blighted earth,
Seed and weed
and peaceful tree,
©2021 Lisa Smith Nelson. All Rights Reserved
Justice Denied in Massachusetts, by Edna St. Vincent Millay
abandon then our gardens and go home
And sit in the sitting-room
Shall the larkspur blossom or the corn grow under this cloud?
Sour to the fruitful seed
Is the cold earth under this cloud,
Fostering quack and weed, we have marched upon but cannot
We have bent the blades of our hoes against the stalks of them.
Let us go home, and sit in the sitting room.
Not in our day
Shall the cloud go over and the sun rise as before,
Beneficent upon us
Out of the glittering bay,
And the warm winds be blown inward from the sea
Moving the blades of corn
With a peaceful sound.
Stands the blue hay-rack by the empty mow.
And the petals drop to the ground,
Leaving the tree unfruited.
The sun that warmed our stooping backs and withered the weed
We shall not feel it again.
We shall die in darkness, and be buried in the rain.
What from the splendid dead
We have inherited —
Furrows sweet to the grain, and the weed subdued —
See now the slug and the mildew plunder.
Evil does overwhelm
The larkspur and the corn;
We have seen them go under.
Let us sit here, sit still,
Here in the sitting-room until we die;
At the step of Death on the walk, rise and go;
Leaving to our children's children the beautiful doorway,
And this elm,
And a blighted earth to till
With a broken hoe.