April - Two Erasures

Weekly Scribblings #66: All About April

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

and go.

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?

Death.

Go,

leaving our children

this blighted earth,

broken.


Sweet Spring!

 

Seed and weed

and peaceful tree,

warmed again!

What splendid

sweet earth!

 

 

 

 

 ©2021 Lisa Smith Nelson. All Rights Reserved

 

Justice Denied in Massachusetts, by Edna St. Vincent Millay 

Let us 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
conquer;
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.

Forlorn, forlorn,
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
uprooted—
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.

 

 

Comments

  1. Intriguing series of pieces.

    Keep them coming Versesmith.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Interesting erasure. Happy Wednesday

    Much💛love

    ReplyDelete
  3. Sacco and Vanzetti, I presume? I was brought up knowing that as a great injustice. I didn't know that Millay, one of my favourite poets, had written this piece and am so glad to read it. Your first erasure is a masterly distillation of her poem; and the second is amazing to have come from the same source, being so joyous and sweet.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, Sacco and Vanzetti. I was not familiar with them before researching the poem. Millay wrote the governor, pleading him to "Exert the clemency which your high office affords." I saw that 50 years later the then Governor of Massachusetts declared the anniversary of the execution day "Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti Memorial Day." He proclaimed they had been unfairly tried and convicted. She's one of my favorites too, maybe favorite.

      Delete
  4. I do like both of them, though you are right that the second one is much more cheerful.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, it definitely is! Thanks for coming by and reading them.

      Delete
  5. The second may be more cheerful, but I like them both.

    ReplyDelete

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