REMEMBER by Joy Harjo Remember the sky that you were born under, know each of the star's stories. Remember the moon, know who she is. Remember the sun's birth at dawn, that is the strongest point of time. Remember sundown and the giving away to night. Remember your birth, how your mother struggled to give you form and breath. You are evidence of her life, and her mother's, and hers. Remember your father. He is your life, also. Remember the earth whose skin you are: red earth, black earth, yellow earth, white earth brown earth, we are earth. Remember the plants, trees, animal life who all have their tribes, their families, their histories, too. Talk to them, listen to them. They are alive poems. Remember the wind. Remember her voice. She knows the origin of this universe. Remember you are all people and all people are you. Remember you are this universe and this universe is you. Remember all is in motion, is growing, is you. Remember language comes from this. Remember the dance language is, that life is. Remember. ~ from How We Became Human: New and Selected Poems 1975-200l (W.W. Norton, 2004)
This beautiful prayer poem, a meditative paean to the interconnectedness of all living things, is more timely than ever.
With her eloquent words of wisdom, U.S. Poet Laureate Joy Harjo asks us to remember our divine origins and the wonder of the cosmos, to honor our family histories, and to walk this earth with due respect for plant and animal life.
She reverently celebrates the diversity and oneness of humankind, implying that it is our responsibility, as inhabitants of the earth, to be grateful for its many gifts, to become worthy stewards, and to live in harmony with nature.
Unfortunately, there are too many amongst us who have decided that their individual concerns (wealth, power) matter more than the well being of all. They continue to prioritize short term gratification even as the futures of their children and grandchildren hang in the balance.
There shouldn’t be a debate over critical issues like climate change, conservation, or environmental preservation. Racial equality should be a given. Unity, not division. It sounds cliché, but what affects one, affects all. It continues to baffle me why so many people fail to realize this, or if they do, simply don’t care.
I like that Harjo ends with, “all is in motion, is growing, is you./Remember language comes from this./Remember the dance language is, that life is.”
Please enjoy this visual representation of the poem by Jessica Sanders, with narration by Ms. Harjo herself.
About the Artist: The paintings that grace this post were created by self taught artist Kent Paulette, who uses uninhibited, energetic brush strokes to create paintings that leap off the canvas, alive with color, texture, and movement. Paulette (a.k.a. Derfla) lives in North Carolina where he paints in a studio overlooking the mountains. He finds inspiration from the natural world that surrounds him and regularly hops into the mountain creek in his back yard to help rejuvenate his spirit and senses. See more of Kent’s work at his Official Website, where you can purchase originals or giclée prints, including the three paintings featured here.
Carmela Martino is hosting the Roundup at Teaching Authors. Zip over there to check out the full menu of poetic goodness being served up around the blogosphere this week. Have a lovely weekend!!
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