Walt Whitman is one of my favorite poets. I like to remember his birthday, which is on May 31st, and falls on a Thursday this year. There are some events and celebrations around this time at the Walt Whitman Birthplace in Long Island. And, my idea for a holiday to this beloved, transcendentalist, nature poet is to set aside 15 minutes on his birthday to celebrate silence.
More about a silent celebration of Walt Whitman’s birthday:
“Ohio” by Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young is the Peace Song of the Day for May 4th. Today is the 42nd anniversary of the shootings of nonviolent anti-war protesters at Kent State. During the late ’60s, the music of CSNY (Chicago/We Can Change the World, Long Time Gone, Cost of Freedom) reported on the events of the day better than the TV news. We could use someone like them to write “Fallujah” and “Oakland” today.
“My Guitar Gently Weeps” by George Harrison is Peace Song of the Day for May Day, May 1st. The song was first recorded by The Beatles. Today, a phalanx of guitars, marching in the Occupy Guitarmy, of part of May Day celebrations. (Information at the Occupy Guitarmy website: here.) Also the track is in honor of the Duchess’ Tearwater Tea Party for May Day. Harrison credits the inspiration for the song to the I Ching.
“This Old Hammer“, an African-American work song, is the Peace Song of the Day for April 25th. (See video and lyrics below.)
The song says, “This old hammer, killed John Henry…but it won’t kill me.” Which resonates with the big event coming up…
May Day, May 1, 2012, is a General Strike, called for by many groups, including Occupy Wall Street. To find a detailed post, and links to actions in over 115 cities, go to this post at occupywallst.org.
If you can be in New York City on May 1st, check out the schedule for NYC actions and performances at www.maydaynyc.org
Why strike? The answer given at the occupywallst website, is similar to the words of this hammer song. On the article “Why And How To Strike On May Day“, it says, “You are not a slave, and have the right not to work.” The song “This Old Hammer” is about African American workers, after slavery was outlawed, who were still treated like slaves in many ways.
I love the tension near the end of this song. The worker asks his coworker to take the hammer to the boss or Captain. Though, we discover he is not asking for retaliation, he only asks to tell the boss that he has gone. If only the 99% could tell the 1%: “No, I won’t work for your unjust system.”