Poem for October: To Be of Use

Because Marge Piercy is still alive, and I’m concerned about copyright, I will link to the poem. Find it here: http://www.northnode.org/poem.htm

I found this poem by flipping through the readings in the back of the UU hymnal one Sunday in late September. I needed a poem for October and the last two stanzas were a responsive reading. Memorizing it wasn’t too hard, though Piercy is very precise in her words and I wanted to be doubly sure I would get each phrase right. I’m having trouble with actually remembering to include the third stanza, I want to jump straight from the “mud” to the “work of the world,” bypassing the fields entirely. This is even though I love saying “parlor generals and field deserters” and the image of work done in common rhythm.

I also enjoy the lines about everyday work vessels being put in museums. Sometimes, when looking at something historical on display, I like to imagine all the hands that have touched said item, through its long history.

Marge Piercy has a few of her poems excerpted as readings in our hymnal. And she wrote one of my top five books of all time (Gone to Soldiers.) I expect we will be seeing her again.

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