When I was a teenager heading off to college (circa 1966), I registered with the Selective Service; it was the law. Temporarily, I received a student deferment from the draft. The political and social backdrop to my academic life was The Vietnam War, the Civil Rights Movement, and the Peace Movement. The War with its body counts was televised; the Civil Rights Movement with its marches and brutal racism was televised; and the Peace Movement had moved flourished even on the most conservative campuses. Activism and academia were difficult to separate, merging with the imperative immediacy of Civil Rights Movement. As a counter-balance to the somber realities we were facing, we cushioned ourselves with a culture of drugs, music, and idealism, believing we could change the world. Those minstrels who wrote and sang about all this were poet/song writers who spread the words of love and war, and social injustice. Bob Dylan told us that the answers to our troubling times is Blowing in the Wind:


How many roads must a man walk down
Before you call him a man?
Yes, 'n' how many seas must a white dove sail
Before she sleeps in the sand?
Yes, 'n' how many times must the cannon balls fly
Before they're forever banned?
The answer, my friend, is blowin' in the wind,
The answer is blowin' in the wind.


Let me explain why Crosby, Still, Nash, and Young (CSN&Y) is one of my favorite groups: harmonies, lyrics, hippie roots, traveling west and camping with my girl friend, listening to their music in the mountains, and I've seen them live four times. "Helplessly Hoping" is so full of alliteration that I often use it when I teach poetry.

Helplessly hoping
Her harlequin hovers nearby
Awaiting a word
Gasping at glimpses
Of gentle true spirit
He runs, wishing he could fly
Only to trip at the sound of good-bye

Wordlessly watching
He waits by the window
And wonders
At the empty place inside
Heartlessly helping himself to her bad dreams
He worries
Did he hear a good-bye? Or even hello?



The following songs are all poetry put to music. Listen to the images and the story they tell. Paul Simon's "The Sounds of Silence", "I Am A Rock", and "The Boxer" are full of awesome imagery, visually lyrical and profound. Many times in loneliness, isolated in a self-imposed solitude, I have deferred to the following lyrics for clarity and comfort?

I have my books
And my poetry to protect me;
I am shielded in my armor,
Hiding in my room, safe within my womb.
I touch no one and no one touches me.
I am a rock,
I am an island.

I've always felt that the imagery in The Boxer was hauntingly tragic but beautiful.

I have squandered my resistance for a pocketful of mumbles, such are promises
All lies and jest, still a man hears what he wants to hear
And disregards the rest

Seeking only workman's wages, I come looking for a job, but I get no offers.....
Just a come-on from the whores on Seventh Avenue
I do declare, there were times when I was so lonesome
I took some comfort there

In the clearing stands a boxer, and a fighter by his trade
And he carries the reminder of every glove that laid him down or cut him
'Til he cried out in his anger and his shame
I am leaving, I am leaving, but the fighter still remains

The playlist below represents songs that contain lyrics that I would consider poetry. The lyrics all contain a variety of poetic elements or devices, such as internal and end rhyme, metaphor, alliteration, allusion, and repetition. The themes are profound, universal and timeless.









The refrain of Angel:
in the arms of an angel
fly away from here
from this dark cold hotel room
and the endlessness that you fear
you are pulled from the wreckage
of your silent reverie
you're in the arms of the angel
may you find some comfort there