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Poetry Friday: Thoughts about History and Timelines

History is a timeline of events,
each event a dot
too small to express the millions of experiences

of a given
day
week
month
year

of a given
war
earthquake
flood
famine
drought
tragedy

Each dot on a timeline is a period,
a pause that says
“Stop! This is something you should know about.”

The timeline pulls us inexorably forward,
the dots behind us growing smaller as we look back over our shoulders.

Some merge with the line,
too small to stop anyone in their tracks anymore,
the stories around that dot lost to time.

But some dots are not diminished with time.
Some dots will always make us pause
to remember.

©2021, Elisabeth Norton, all rights reserved

Our Poetry Friday host is Tricia over at The Miss Rumphious Effect. Hop over to her blog for all of today's poetic inspiration.
I'd also like to highlight a wonderful poem 9/11/02 or One Year Later, written by my friend Jennifer in honor of some of the first responders to 9/11. 

Comments

  1. Interesting analogy, Elisabeth. I especially love the "Stop! This is something you should know about." A reflective poem for a reflective weekend.

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  2. What an interesting take on present moments and history at this dot in history. 9-11 is one of those dots that will make us stop for a long time. But I think of those moments that fade that are still important for us to remember.

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    1. I agree Janice. One of the things I love as a reader and writer is discovering the stories represented by the smaller dots in history.

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  3. Some dots, yes. Some dots are more compelling than others. What an observation set in beautiful language. Beautifully written.

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  4. Wow! This is an analogy I "also" will remember. Terrific, Elisabeth!

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  5. I like how you used the concept of dots on the line and how some make us stop for a longer time. A perfect pome for today.

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    1. Thanks Jone. I was thinking about 9.11 as well as other significant events such as the recent earthquake in Haiti, and how we attempt to process them.

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  6. Elisabeth, what a poignant take on history. I was thinking about some people in our world, historians through and through, who dare to keep all the dots visible and in our memory. They are important. I'm realizing more and more the truth of George Santayana's words, "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." Your poem conjures up many important thoughts. Brava.

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    1. I love that quote, Denise. I'm a fan of historians and writers and all the storytellers who keep those stories alive for future generations. They are important because it seems that we (humanity) are not embracing the lessons those stories can teach us about ourselves and our world.

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  7. "Each dot on a timeline is a period,"

    If only we could stop time so that we can properly examine each dot in the context of all the dots that came before but without the ever-flowing dots that accumulate even as we try to look and understand...

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    1. I agree Mary Lee! I think that's why I love immersing myself in history through books, films, museum visits, etc. Each immersion feels like a pause to really look at what that dot can teach me.

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  8. Elizabeth, I love the ending of your poem: But some dots are not diminished with time.
    Some dots will always make us pause
    to remember.
    There is such truth in that statement.

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  9. I love that you acknowledge that, for all the dots that don't become "diminished with time," the stories behind many of the dots on history's timeline are lost. Well done!

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    1. Thanks Catherine. I think recognizing that the timeline is a series of dots, all merging, is an act of acknowledging the value of the personal experiences they represent.

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  10. You're right: some dots will always make us pause.

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  11. You beautifully incorporated two word towers in your poem. It's such a thoughtful reminder without ever directly mentioning its subject, or at least what I assume is its subject.

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  12. I hadn't even realized that until you pointed it out Susan, but now that you have, it makes me want to play with how the poem is laid out on the "page" to possibly strengthen that image. Thank you for your comments (you're right, that this was written with 9/11 in mind).

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  13. Ah, the things a dot can hold! I love this view of the dots on a timeline, signals to stop and pay attention, learn more, ponder.

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