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A postcard from Pete Seeger

By Ronald Cohen


I am saddened to learn of the passing of American folk musician Pete Seeger and am not sure how to sum up his life in a short space. I am just thinking: the world weeps. So I’d like to share the postcard I just got from him. It sums up his life, always caring and studying and thinking.

Pete-Seeger-postcard-altered

Sonnet 65 (from Oxford Scholarly Editions Online)

Since brass, nor stone, nor earth, nor boundless sea,
But sad mortality o’ersways their power,
How with this rage shall beauty hold a plea,
Whose action is no stronger than a flower?
how shall summer’s honey breath hold out
Against the wrackful siege of batt’ring days,
When rocks impregnable are not so stout,
Nor gates of steel so strong, but time decays?
O fearful meditation; where, alack,
Shall Time’s best jewel from Time’s chest lie hid?
Or what strong hand can hold his swift foot back,
Or who his spoil of beauty can forbid?
    O none, unless this miracle have might,
    That in black ink my love may still shine bright.

Ronald Cohen is Professor Emeritus of History Indiana University Northwest, and author of A History of Folk Music Festivals in the United States: Feasts of Musical Celebration (Scarecrow, 2008), Folk Music: The Basics (Routledge, 2006) and Rainbow Quest: The Folk Music Revival and American Society, 1940-1970 (Massachusetts, 2002). He is the co-editor of The Pete Seeger Reader with James Capaldi.

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One Response to “A postcard from Pete Seeger”
  1. Zeke Smukler says:

    Sorry to hear about Pete, but I like his music. I heard Norman Ross used to have videotapes of Rainbow Quest with Pete Seeger at his publishing company which he doesn’t anymore.

    Zeke

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