Dante Alighieri, Hamilton, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Pablo Neruda, Poetics, Revolution, Wislawa Szymborska
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.
Hi, dVerse Poets! The pub is open! It’s very hot here in New Jersey, so you might want a cool drink while you ponder and write.
Hi Merril! Thank you for hosting. A timely prompt in the light of changes in our own country, Canada, and my own company as well.
Its a bit cooler now (without any heat warning) so any fruit sweet cocktail would be fine. Cheers!
Hi Grace! I’ll just take a bit of this and that and add some ice. L’Chaim!
Hello dVerse folks!
Thanks for hosting, Merril. I suspect we will have very diverse poetry subjects for this prompt….so many ways to go with the idea of revolution.
Hot and steamy here again today – can I revolt from the weather????
I’d love a cold cold gin and tonic with a slice of lime, please!
Hi, Lillian. Yes, I’m hoping for a wide range of responses. Here’s your G&T!
Hi everyone, and especially to you Merril, with thanks for the revolutionary prompt, although I went with motion rather than rebellion! An alcohol-free blue cocktail would be welcome this evening, please. 🙂
Hi Kim–A blue special coming up!
Thank you, Merril! 😉
D. Avery @shiftnshake said:
I advocate a semi-revolution.
The trouble with a total revolution
(Ask and reputable Rosicrucian)
Is that it brings the same class up on top.
Executives of skillful execution
Will therefore plan to go halfway and stop.
Yes, revolutions are the only salves,
But they’re one thing that should be done by halves.
Thanks! I’ll have to think about this. 😀
Linda Lee Lyberg said:
Hi Merril and all- Thanks so much for a thought provoking prompt Merril. I’ll be pondering as I am getting caught up from yesterday. I can’t ever hear the word revolution without thinking of the Beatle’s – I LOVE the guitar in that song, it is so gritty and powerful.
I almost included the Beatles. I just finished writing my own. Nothing like waiting till the last minute. 😏
Hello Merril and All. First off, happy Tuesday! It’s about 80 out there and a hint of breeze but not enough to suit my skin. I walked with a friend today and found 3 new ginkgo trees planted on a city street, which made my day. Merril great prompt and a couple ideas sprouted but had to choose one. I heard about a delicious pineapple-apple (or is that pine applex2?) cider today, so I’ll have a tall pineapple cider please, Merril 🙂
That sounds interesting and refreshing. Let me know how it is!
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Revolting re-volution of re-evolution when we dont see, together there is no need even for revolution, just a stop! Who why and what, from billions of lungs, working hands, comfort boycotted until an answer! But preachers are today pop stars, hope the next best thing. And all will be as will.
Thanks for hosting! Close to heart, amazed this is a discussion, not an action, but hey. Civilized people rather speak politely than fight. There will be my point of reference, is revolution necessarily a fight?
Hi–well, no, it’s not. You can use any definition of the word.
I know it’s not, but the concept of “fighting”, of giving energy to oppose interests me, the futility of it, the blindness of furious fighters, yet can a system really well change without disturbance, without breaking of the calm an cozy (for the lucky)? Revolution of words has made never much, only on aftermath can the victorious revel in their rebellion with words.. Celebrate after, inspire before, but during revolution of “just” words, we are all ready made dumber and scared to speak our mind, let alone act? Rest of my tirade if I make my idea in deadline in coherent form of revolting sentences, form abusing, thrashing, frustrated, yet imaginary break from before.. Action, breaks. Fights sometimes needed.
Later we remember “I have a dream..”, not during, not when all hangs in balance of status discord.
I suppose it depends on the revolution. It seems there are always songs, no? Aren’t those inspiring words? I mean of course in the midst of an actual physical battle, people are not reciting poetry, but words are still important. Thomas Paine’s Common Sense inspired many colonial Americans to fight against the British. Well, anyway, I will wait to see what you come up with in poetic form. 🙂
True. Words like “white mans burden”, words of oppression or freedom can be catalysts, but revolution meaning change against a bigger force/status quo, something new. Those songs come tragedies or words of victory, so… Yeah, I think I will think more of this adversary nature of revolution. Can you revolt against nothing? Is accepting and forgetting the best policy for peacefull change? When there is tear gas against?
Brings to mind the words January, gunpowder and treason. noblest cause is vile if lost, vile a noblle when well said… How would I word todays world as something to defend? In the age of extreme and “counter-revolution”.. 🤔🙄🤤
Hello all. I am back on the circuit again, writing. I will be back later to read and comment. I am off to the soup kitchen to finish fixing the night meal. You all stay safe.
You stay safe, too, Toni!
I would like a glass of water please. The summer is always excruciating!
Revolution, so many things it encompasses. I had some thoughts about the Renaissance Revolution, and it is true how there are different forms of revolution daily alone. It’s intriguing to think about in this way, especially with writing and artwork. Such an inspiring prompt here.
I’m now off to read our beloved poets’ work.
Yes, it is very hot. Here is a glass of water, in cool blue glass. Thank you for joining in!
Na'ama Yehuda said:
Ah, there are so many different kinds of revolutions … and not all of them are noted enough …
Left a small example with the linky thingy. Do you happen to have some grapefruit juice to blend with club soda at the bar?
Yes, I do. That sounds quite refreshing! I’ll be over to read in a minute.
Na'ama Yehuda said:
Thank you for the cold drink! 🙂
thanks Merril, just read this and the Beatles song hasn’t stopped playing in my head!
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We must have been thinking the same thing this week. I wrote my poem the other day before I knew about your prompt.
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Such a time prompt, Merril! I love how you captured the different ways one can go about revolutions.
Thanks so much. We are such a diverse group, so I wanted to allow for that.
Jedediah Smith said:
Good prompt, timely but flexible.
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Great, thoughtful prompt, Merril. I’m a little overdrawn at the bank of dVerse – I really need to deposit some reading time – but the weather breaks on Thursday and I need to make the most of it!
I know what you mean, Sarah. It’s hard to keep up with all the reading.
Reading dverse is a great antidote to the news!
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Thank you for hosting, Merrill! A bit of a sophomoric attempt from me, I’m afraid, but I immediately thought of comets because of the currently passing one and then had to write it. I’ll keep tinkering. Anyway, enjoy!
Thanks so much for joining us for this prompt!
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Well, you know (as the Beatles song goes) A prompt for the very moment Merril.
Thanks, Paul. I almost titled this, “You say you want a revolution,” but I was afraid it might get flagged, or get all sorts of weird spam. 😏
I get that 😉
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Frank J. Tassone said:
Good Evening, Poets! Thanks, Merril, for the inspiring prompt! Better late than never, right? 😉
I went old and new with this one!
Thanks for joining the revolution, Frank!
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Hi Merrild. Thanks to you and dVerse generally. This is my second participation. I’m rather surprised by my own responses to the prompts. I’m delighted by the creativity of others. It does make me wonder at the infinite variety in our heads. Cheers, Max
Thanks so much, Max. I’m pleased to hear this, and I agree–endless and infinite wonder!