I began writing poems when I was about eight, with a heavy assist from my mother. She read me Arthur Waley’s translations and Whitman and Robinson Jeffers, who have been lifelong influences on me. My father read Keats to me, and then he read more Keats while I was lying on the sofa struggling with asthma.
Mother Earth is very talented. She has produced Buddhas, bodhisattvas, great beings.
It is a truism that children need more of Mother than of money.
I was born 50 years after slavery, in 1913. I was allowed to read. My mother, who was a teacher, taught me when I was a very young child. The first school I attended was a small building that went from first to sixth grade. There was one teacher for all of the students. There could be anywhere from 50 to 60 students of all different ages.
A harrassed and dubious childhood under the hand of a well-meaning but barbarous mother’s help from County Armagh led me to think of the North of Ireland as prison and the South as a land of escape.
My mother said I must always be intolerant of ignorance but understanding of illiteracy. That some people, unable to go to school, were more educated and more intelligent than college professors.
But, as my mother used to tell me, two wrongs don’t make a right. But I soon figured out that three left turns do.
When this boy was brought to Dr. Young, his name being William, the same as mine, my mother was ordered to change mine to something else. This, at the time, I thought to be one of the most cruel acts that could be committed upon my rights.
Children are the anchors that hold a mother to life.
Mother Earth needs us to keep our covenant. We will do this in courts, we will do this on our radio station, and we will commit to our descendants to work hard to protect this land and water for them. Whether you have feet, wings, fins, or roots, we are all in it together.