Saturday, May 25, 2013

IGWRT's Fireblossom Friday - "Beneath a Moon"

Tidewater rice trunk gate, from Richmond Plantation.  This gate controlled water flow
into and out of the rice fields.

Beneath a Moon

Beneath a moon, milk-white,
tidal swamps were cleared,
carved deep.

Beside cypress and gum
grew crops of gold, cradled, 
protected by spirituals sung low,
of "Ole Virginny" and "Coal-black Rose".

Beneath oaks, moss-draped,
black backs toiled, weary,
longed for home, but
Elmina's "door of no return"
sealed their fate.

Beneath a moon, milk-white,
voices rose in song,
echoed and escaped.

by Margaret Bednar, May 25, 2013

Below is a very moving video of a visit to the "Door of No Return" Ghana.

Another video I found fascinating highlights a book "Slave songs of the United States" - Published 1867.  This is the first large collection of slave spirituals.  Who collected these songs two years after the Civil War?  Watch and find out.

The poem is linked to Imaginary Garden with Real Toads "Fireblossom Friday" Location!

Below is a video about inland rice fields, not tidal, but it was swampy and still required African slaves!   I think it is a good five minutes of history telling.


Susie Clevenger said...

Margaret, what a powerful presentation in words and videos.

Ginnie said...

One could spend a lifetime researching all this history on our country, Margaret. Listening to these videos is a good start!

aprille said...

Are you getting better and better out of sight?
Or was I just not taking it in before.
It's nothing short of brilliant.

Marian said...

oh, Margaret. well done.

Helen said...

Yes, yes ... you captured the history, the emotion so beautifully in this poem. Welcome back. I plan on returning later today for another look-see-listen.

TexWisGirl said...

incredibly sad piece of history.

TexWisGirl said...

thank you for the videos, too. i watched the first about ghana. and i watched the inland rice fields - a part of history i had never heard of.

Kerry O'Connor said...

You have an amazing ability to bring history to life on an emotional level. Slavery has been a sad and brutal part of world history, with Africa being plundered by both Asia and the Western world for centuries. It became part of the economy, which is more terrible still, and common for people to sell family members to traders. Slavery of one kind or another still continues on the continent today.

Kay L. Davies said...

Margaret, I watched the entire video about the song book. I was raised on jazz, blues, and spirituals, and then fortunate to be able to visit New Orleans in 1980, when many old musicians were still alive, so I heard some wonderful old music.
The story of this small book of big music was fascinating. Thank you.
And thank you for your poem which paints a word-picture of work and life in the rice swamps.
A fascinating post.

Ella said...

Brilliance in this poem-the journey of history outlined by your vision~

Anonymous said...

Friend ~ for me, it was all held together by music and soul, a soundtrack in poetic form~ Wonderful as always !

Mr. Charleston said...

There's a well preserved rice plantation near Darien, Georgia, the Hofwyl-Broadfield Plantation, that I have visited several times. It's been turned into a waterfowl refuge and the migrating birds feed on the still thriving rice. It's quite lovely with one of the most beautiful live oak groves I have ever seen.
For some reason I have been absorbed in slave culture the last couple of days having seen the films Lincoln, Django Unchained and The Color Purple and now, your post. (I've been home with the flu) Good one Margaret.

hedgewitch said...

"..Beneath a moon, milk-white,
voices rose in song,
echoed and escaped."

Perfect ending. The only escape there could be, besides death for so many. Margaret, this is such a poignant and bittersweet piece, yet full of compassion and respect. Thanks so much for the accompanying videos. I often think of how much in this country was built by slave hands--and now so many brown hands still do this demanding, poorly paid agricultural work. As someone who has done manual labor, I have nothing but respect for the mega-hours of sheer back-breaking work these fields must have absorbed and turned into rice(and money) for others. Thanks for the history lesson, and the compelling poem.

Loredana Donovan said...

You're always so good with historical poems, Margaret. Well done :)

Fireblossom said...

I can't imagine slavery. I can't imagine being held in slavery or holding anyone else in it myself. it boggles my mind.

Akila G said...

Very profound and a strong piece!

Lolamouse said...

Your words really bring an emotional connection to history. I love how the beginning and ending stanzas of your poem echo each other. Just lovely.