My Tongue Is My Choir Singing To My Heart And Soul — Robert Pinsky’s Samurai Song   4 comments

Whitman 2010Poetry lovers at a Walt Whitman Reading, the Corner Pub, Conroe, Texas — Image by kenne

That which eludes this verse and any verse,
Unheard by sharpest ear, unform’d in clearest eye or cunningest mind,
Nor lore nor fame, nor happiness nor wealth,
And yet the pulse of every heart and life throughout the world
Which you and I and all pursuing ever ever miss,
Open but still a secret, the real of the real, an illusion,
Costless, vouchsafed to each, yet never man the owner,
Which poets vainly seek to put in rhyme, historians in prose,
Which sculptor never chisel’d yet, nor painter painted,
Which vocalist never sung, nor orator nor actor ever utter’d, 10
Invoking here and now I challenge for my song.

— from “A Riddle Song” by Walt Whitman

If you are one of those who think poetry is boring and you can’t relate to it, I suggest you read Robert Pinski’s poem, “Samural Song.” Then watch Akron/Family‘s performance of Pinski’s beautiful poem.

I love poetry. It sings to me — my tongue is my choir singing to my heart and soul.


Samurai Song

When I had no roof I made
Audacity my roof. When I had
No supper my eyes dined.

When I had no eyes I listened.
When I had no ears I thought.
When I had no thought I waited.

When I had no father I made
Care my father. When I had
No mother I embraced order.

When I had no friend I made
Quiet my friend. When I had no
Enemy I opposed my body.

When I had no temple I made
My voice my temple. I have
No priest, my tongue is my choir.

When I have no means fortune
Is my means. When I have
Nothing, death will be my fortune.

Need is my tactic, detachment
Is my strategy. When I had
No lover I courted my sleep.


4 responses to “My Tongue Is My Choir Singing To My Heart And Soul — Robert Pinsky’s Samurai Song

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  1. OH! yes this is amazing. Words and poetry are all to me also!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Reblogged this on Becoming is Superior to Being and commented:

    Overnight I posted “Celebrating Walt Whitman,” which includes a poem on Whitman by Allen Ginsberg. This morning I received a comment from Jnana Hodson — “Oh, thanks for sharing Allen’s poem! It’s one I wasn’t familiar with, though it certainly reinforces the inspiration of Whitman on the Beat. Do we dare wonder what either of them would make of Covid?”
    I replied — “Interesting thought — anybody’s guess. However, Whitman dealt with a lot of death.
    I love Ginsberg’s reference to García Lorca by the watermelons. Shows global respect by artists for Whitman.
    “Not for a moment, Walt Whitman, lovely old man,
    have I failed to see your beard full of butterflies . . .” –from Ode to Walt Whitman
    Whitman’s poetry has a way of connecting the world around us. Here’s a link to Robert Pinsky reading Whitman’s “Election Day, November, 1884.”
    — kenne


  3. Yes that Akron Family performing Pinsky was great! I wish I had access to a voice that could carry that kind of singing. I did notice that one of the two keyboard players had stickers with the musical notes on his keys, like I must do on my little plastic keyboard since I’m so untrained on keys.

    You and I seem to be on the same wavelength on poetry calling for some soul-force to be behind it when read/sung/performed. It’s there in the words on the page, just quiet until expressed, even in silent reading to oneself.

    Liked by 1 person

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