Poetry Friday falls on Remembrance Day here in Canada when we remember fallen soldiers of the past. Every year the fifth and sixth graders of my daughter’s school are asked to participate in the Remembrance Day Assembly by singing a song and this year’s class song choice was Israel Kamakawiwo’ole’s haunting fusion-rendition of Somewhere Over the Rainbow/What a Wonderful World. Many of you have probably heard the song, but may not know much about the singer unless you’re Hawaiian. The song became a big hit when it was released in 1993 and catapulted a little known full-time Hawaiian musician to international fame.
On the liner notes to the CD Facing Future featuring Somewhere Over the Rainbow/What a Wonderful World is a short poem from which the title of the album gets its name. I won’t quote the whole poem here which is in part about Hawaiian nationalism, but the essence of it is contained in these last two lines:
Remember the past but do not dwell there
Face the future where all our hopes stand.
Remembrance Day ceremonies give us the chance to remember the past so that we might ‘face future’ as Bruddah Iz would have it, with hope. As one coming from a people and a land conquered by white colonialists, Israel’s words ring with a particular poignancy on the matter. As we remember the fallen dead on this day, it’s good also to remember those who fell or were felled before the formation of our nation states — namely the aboriginal people of the countries we live in.
Poetry Friday today is hosted by Teaching Authors.