I like to think of Harriet Tubman

First life is a lot of work right now, but it is also fun: I am rediscovering Christian Wolff, the American-German composer. Here are some wonderful improvisations. And here are trio improvisations from Dartmouth festival. I am actually quite addicted to some of his pieces which I only got on CD – “I like to think of Harriet Tubman”, a piece with voice based on a great poem of the same title by Susan Griffin:

I like to think of Harriet Tubman.
Harriet Tubman who carried a revolver,
who had a scar on her head from a rock thrown
by a slave-master (because she
talked back), and who

had a ransom on her head
of thousands of dollars and who
was never caught, and who
had no use for the law
when the law was wrong,
who defied the law. I like
to think of her.
I like to think of her especially when I think of the problem of feeding children.

I want them to think about Harriet Tubman,
and remember,
remember she was beat by a white man
and she lived
and she lived to redress her grievances,

and she lived in swamps
and wore the clothes of a man
bringing hundreds of fugitives from

slavery, and was never caught,
and led an army,
and won a battle,
and defied the laws
because the laws were wrong, I want men
to take us seriously I am tired wanting them to think
about right and wrong.
I want them to fear.
I want them to feel fear now
as I have felt suffering in the womb, and
I want them
to know
that there is always a time
there is always a time to make right
what is wrong,
there is always a time
for retribution
and that time
is beginning.

1 thought on “I like to think of Harriet Tubman”

  1. Hello!

    I just wanted to let you know, in case you weren’t aware, that there is a large part of Susan Griffin’s poem that is missing above. Here is the whole thing:

    I Like to Think of Harriet Tubman

    I like to think of Harriet Tubman.
    Harriet Tubman who carried a revolver,
    who had a scar on her head from a rock thrown
    by a slave-master (because she
    talked back) , and who
    had a ransom on her head
    of thousands of dollars and who
    was never caught, and who
    had no use for the law
    when the law was wrong,
    who defied the law. I like
    to think of her.
    I like to think of her especially
    when I think of the problem
    of feeding children.

    The legal answer
    to the problem of feeding children
    is ten free lunches every month,
    being equal, in the child’s real life,
    to eating lunch every other day.
    Monday but not Tuesday.
    I like to think of the President
    eating lunch on Monday, but not
    Tuesday.
    and when I think of the President
    and the law, and the problem of
    feeding children, I like to
    think of Harriet Tubman
    and her revolver.

    And then sometimes
    I think of the President
    and other men,
    men who practice the law,
    who revere the law,
    who make the law,
    who enforce the law
    who live behind
    and operate through
    and feed themselves
    at the expense of
    starving children
    because of the law.

    Men who sit in paneled offices
    and think about vacations
    and tell women
    whose care it is
    to feed children
    not to be hysterical
    not to be hysterical as in the word
    hysterikos, the greek for
    womb suffering,
    not to suffer in their
    wombs,
    not to care,
    not to bother the men
    because they want to think
    of other things
    and do not want
    to take women seriously.
    I want them to think about Harriet Tubman,
    and remember,
    remember she was beaten by a white man
    and she lived
    and she lived to redress her grievances,
    and she lived in swamps
    and wore the clothes of a man
    bringing hundreds of fugitives from
    slavery, and was never caught,
    and led an army,
    and won a battle,
    and defied the laws
    because the laws were wrong, I want men
    to take us seriously.
    I am tired wanting them to think
    about right and wrong.
    I want them to fear.
    I want them to feel fear now I want them
    to know
    that there is always a time
    there is always a time to make right
    what is wrong,
    there is always a time
    for retribution
    and that time
    is beginning.

    Take care!
    Gretchen

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