Thursday, August 27, 2009

Nine Great Regrets

I've never been completely convinced by Edith Piaf's song Je ne regrette rien, as much as I admire her voice and that spirit of infinite denial. Isn't it better to regret a few things – at least at first – before moving along to perhaps transcend the sadness and self criticism associated with loss and disappointment?

I've been considering this topic as an opportunity to think about poetic language. Joyce Kennedy wrote a poem called "Nine Great Herons," which I mentioned here at elenabella. Regular reader and poet Lyle Daggett looked at the photo she took of these birds and suggested that they were really egrets. Word change: substitution of one type of bird with another that is similar. Joyce went back and revised her poem, now called "Nine Great Egrets."

I can't read that title without thinking (in quick succession) "Nine Great Regrets" and then thinking "There's another poem." Nine great regrets make their surprise appearance at early dawn, or in the dark of night, or on a Tuesday in Baltimore, walking the dog. What are they?

There are the big ones: Nagasaki, Hiroshima, the Holocaust. The destruction of the rain forest. The appalling way we often treat animals. Slavery. Sex trafficking. The wanton destruction of sacred things in the name of dogma. Cruel intentions.

See, nine already. Even without turning to those more personal regrets, too personal even to post on a public blog. Nine Great Regrets: think about them, but not until after you watch this wonderful video of Piaf.

4 comments:

Joyce said...

Elena, Egrets, regrets--that connection is going to have a permanent place in my brain now, thanks to you! It's true, isn't it, that regret can make a surprise appearance when one least expects it? As for the big regrets you list, if ever we reach a critical mass of regret on those, the world will have changed for so much the better.

Esmerelda said...

Hey Elena,

Can I borrow the "Nine great Regrets" as a prompt for the WWfaC blog?

Very good writing prompt.

xo Amy (esmerelda)

elena said...

Absolutely... please ask the writers to send some poems or other pieces of writing back over to me to post here, too! ellenkmichel@gmail.com

That blog, by the way is The Poplar Grove Muse:
http://poplargroveschoolhouse.blogspot.com/

jessicaleighlalou said...

I agree.. I can think of many regrets without even getting personal. Powerful post- got me thinking.
PS: I do love Edith Piaf's voice. :)