Hello, dVerse poets! It’s Merril here, tending the poets’ bar in New Jersey on a hot, hot summer July day.
In the U.S., we celebrate Independence Day on the 4th of July, when the Second Continental Congress—meeting in Philadelphia right across the Delaware River from me–formally adopted the Declaration of Independence (which was actually signed on 2 July). Although fighting had already begun, this formal declaration meant the thirteen colonies were now involved in an official revolution against British authority. Similarly, in France, people celebrate Bastille Day or la Fête nationale on July 14, in recognition of a significant event in the French Revolution—the storming of the Bastille.
All this is to say, I’ve had the word “revolution” in my mind, and because, like most of you, I love words, I started thinking about the many ways the word could be used. In fact, revolution (from Latin revolvere) was first used in English in the fourteenth century, and it meant “the movement of a celestial body in orbit; that sense was extended to ‘a progressive motion of a body around an axis,’ ‘completion of a course,’ and other senses suggesting regularity of motion or a predictable return to an original position” (Merriam-Webster). About the same time, the word also came to mean “a sudden radical, or complete change.”
So today, we’re going to write about revolution. There are violent revolutions, but we also use the word to describe radical changes in science, technology, history, the arts, fashion, and so on. For example, we speak of the Industrial Revolution, or a revolution in technology. However, a comet makes a revolution around the sun, often going far out into space. The earth revolves, so does the moon–and so does a merry-go-round.
There are poems about revolutions, often lauding “great men.” There are also songs and art that celebrate, commemorate, or refer to revolutions. Polish poet,Wisława Szymborska, offers a different perspective, noting
“After every war
someone has to clean up.
straighten themselves up, after all.
Someone has to push the rubble
to the side of the road,
so the corpse-filled wagons
–from “The End and the Beginning“
In “I’m Explaining a few Things, Pablo Neruda writes:
“And you’ll ask: why doesn’t his poetry
speak of dreams and leaves
and the great volcanoes of his native land?
Come and see the blood in the streets.
Come and see. . “
Dante, in Canto XXXIII of The Divine Comedy offers a different meaning—the revolution of the Sun and stars powered by love.
“but already my desire and will were rolled, like a wheel that is turned, equally, by the Love that moves the Sun and the other stars.”
So, today I want you to write a poem that explores revolution in some way. My aim is not to be particularly political. You can write about historical or modern revolutionary movement, but you can also write about the revolution of celestial bodies, or you can discuss revolving motion in some way. You can also use a painting as inspiration. Perhaps start your own poetic revolution or invent a revolutionary new poetic form!
Or as Angelica Schuyler says in Hamilton:
“You want a revolution? I want a revelation” (Lin-Manuel Miranda, “The Schuyler Sisters,” Hamilton.)
If you are new, here’s how to join in:
*Write a poem (in any form) in response to the challenge.
*You will find links to other poets and more will join, so check back later to read their poems.
Read and comment on other poets’ work–we all come here to have our poems read.
*Please link back to dVerse from your site/blog.