Song of Souls

5 April 2003
Saint John, New Brunswick, Canada

Dear Friends,

Today at our peace gathering, when the son of a poet read a poem in Arabic on the steps of city hall, something broke loose in me. My mind comprehended none of the words, but my body understood the emotion carried by rhythm and sound.

No one knows where poems come from; we can only notice the circumstances in which they arrive. This one showed up about two hours after the rally ended.

Startled by death
that fell from a roaring sky,
we flew away.

We circled high,
higher than the war planes fly,
and we saw you far below,
piling our broken bodies
in the back of your truck,
driving to a hospital
where none could heal us
and none could heal you.

O hear our song
in the music of the wind —

We have found the forever place,
the place of no war.

We remember you, beloved.
We remember you always.


– Harriet Ann Ellenberger

note: photo by Jeremy Bishop on Unsplash



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Harriet Ann Ellenberger

writer, editor, translator; co-founded the journal "Sinister Wisdom"

6 thoughts on “Song of Souls”

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  1. This is lengthy and gushy, but true. Quoting from Auden, “I have read translations of Cavafy made by many different hands, but every one of them was recognizable as a poem by Cavafy; nobody else could possibly have written it. Reading any poem of his, I feel: ‘This reveals a person with a unique perspective on the world.'” I react to all Harriet’s writing–poems and prose–this way.

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