Village Voice: Poet Richard Blanco Shares Poems to Help Us Better Understand Our Lives

by | Aug 2, 2022 | Radio

Richard Blanco joins Jim and Margery for the latest installment of “Village Voice,” to share a couple of poems to help us better understand our lives and times. Richard read ‘an oldie but a goldie,’ “Fire and Ice” by Robert Frost, and a poem that characterizes the poet’s life as a political activist, “Lot’s Wife” by Anna Akhmatova.

“Sometimes the pen is not enough. I’m thinking about becoming more politically active. The pen is mightier than the sword but sometimes you need a figurative sword as well,” said Blanco.

He went on to joke about migrating to Canada, citizenship and loyalty to country, the authoritarian government in Cuba from which his parents fled, and ended on a ‘high note”– the role of the Poet Laureate, with a congratulatory nod to his good friend and newly appointed Poet Laureate, Ada Limon.

Enjoy the poems copied below as they are read and discussed.

by Robert Frost

Some say the world will end in fire,
Some say in ice.
From what I’ve tasted of desire
I hold with those who favor fire.
But if it had to perish twice,
I think I know enough of hate
To say that for destruction ice
Is also great
And would suffice.

by Anna Akhmatova

And the just man trailed God’s shining agent,
over a black mountain, in his giant track,
while a restless voice kept harrying his woman:
“It’s not too late, you can still look back

at the red towers of your native Sodom,
the square where once you sang, the spinning-shed,
at the empty windows set in the tall house
where sons and daughters blessed your marriage-bed.”

A single glance: a sudden dart of pain
stitching her eyes before she made a sound . . .
Her body flaked into transparent salt,
and her swift legs rooted to the ground.

Who will grieve for this woman? Does she not seem
too insignificant for our concern?
Yet in my heart I never will deny her,
who suffered death because she chose to turn.

This episode of “Village Voice” first aired on GBH Boston Public Radio on August 1st, 2022. Image credit: Kristopher Roller @unsplash.