What makes it stay? Anthems and poetry

keyboardWe were looking for a parking space at Costco the other day and the radio was playing the Hallelujah song. I don’t know who was singing it this time, although it reminded me of hearing Jordan singing it at O’Shea’s on Cape Cod, and it reminded me about anthems.

What turns a piece of music from a song into an anthem? And I’m not talking about national, which is an assigned status. I’m talking about the songs that become anthems, songs that are chosen by the people and become symbols for a generation or generations.

The Hallelujah Chorus
Imagine and Let it Be
Like a Rolling Stone (and/or Blowin’ in the Wind?)

These are off the top of my head. I thought of others and then took them off the list, and I’m probably missing the obvious–the anthem elephant in the room. What are some others?

If music makes up a soundtrack for our lives and a door to our memories, associations with when we heard a song before, an anthem gives us a common soundtrack by

Telling a shared story
Giving us hope
Giving us a really good refrain

An anthem includes us.

What poems do this? Give us this common touchstone?

The two that come to my mind first:

Casey at the Bat
The Waking

Again, I’m probably missing the obvious ones. What anthem poems do you recommend? I hope you’ll add to the list here.

2 Replies to “What makes it stay? Anthems and poetry”

  1. Musical anthems:

    American Tune by Paul Simon (but sung by the New Orleans musician John Boutte, who also covers Hallelujah)

    Crooked Road, by Darrell Scott

    Poetry anthems:

    The Road Not Taken (I always come back to this!), Frost
    Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night (Reilly recited this as his dad’s memorial), Dylan Thomas
    The Right Madness on Sky by Richard Hugo

    These were fun to think of!

  2. Of course, The Road Not Taken and Do Not Go gentle Into That Good Night! Thank you for those reminders. (See what I mean about the elephant in the room? And I remember Reilly reciting the poem.)

    I’ll look up the Hugo, and the songs.

Comments are closed.