Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Some Thoughts for Benson Green on his 27th Birthday - R. McKuen

The best way to place Rod McKuen (1933 -  ) is to think of him as Leonard Cohen-lite.  I would call McKuen (and Cohen) "troubadours" in the traditional definition as poets who wrote and performed verse to music.  McKuen was living in New York City at the time - he's a San Franciscan through and through - and wrote it for his best friend.  It's taken the posting of thirty-six other poets here before I could bring myself to posting one from him.   And that is more about my embarrassment at knowing it than about his place in popularizing poetry for the "flower power" generation in the mid-1960s.  (There is no bio page for him on the American Poetry Foundation site or the other "serious poetry" organizations, I suspect because his poems are considered unsophisticated and obvious, and success with critics isn't guaranteed by commercial success. )  The poem here was just "right" for me as a teenager and as much of an eye-opener to a poem's power to connect as reading T.S. Eliot's "Prufrock" poems two years later.  That summer of 1968 is a blurry memory, but I still can recite most of this poem  from memory.....yikes.   (Clicking his name will take you to his website: Rod McKuen.)
Some Thoughts for Benson Green on his 27th Birthday

Having just gone through the year myself
I know that twenty-seven can be hard.
But there are Sunday breakfasts
                           and April fields
and blue on blue
                           and green growing things
to change all that.

I know that spring is hard because you wait
                                     for summer
and fall is hardest of them all-
                 because you must not be alone
when winter comes.

I know
that love is worth the time it takes to find.
Think of that
    when all the world seems made of walk-up rooms
and hands in empty pockets.

I know your smile
and it is much too warm to waste on people in the
                      (though smiles are plentiful)
I know
that if you keep the empty heart alive a little longer
love will come.
                    It always does,
maybe just at the last moment, but it will come
                                           You must believe that
or there isn’t any reason to be twenty-seven.
                                                                                                     Rod McKuen - American

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