Singing in Dark Times – #5 in a Series – Why not Sing – Kevin Young

American Poet Kevin Young (1970 - )

American Poet Kevin Young (1970 – )

Epigraph from Motto

In the dark times
Will there also be singing?
Yes, there will be singing
About the dark times.

Bertolt Brecht: Poems 1913-1956, edited by John Willett and Ralph Manheim, Eyre Methuen, 1976

I think, okay, no more poems to post in this series for now and then a poem changes my mind. A poem, in this case by American poet Kevin Young. A poem that ties into my theme: singing in the dark times!

A professor at Emory University in the U.S.from 2005 to 2016 and now the Director of the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture
in New York City, Young has won a clutch of prestigious literary awards and been short-listed for many others. This author of 10 volumes of poetry, a non-fiction book which won the Pen Open Book award, and editor of numerous anthologies, has become an important voice in American literature and is considered one of the finest poets of his generation.

I so appreciate the musicality of his short lines. A pithiness that still holds a compelling cadence. Read this poem out loud. You will, I hope, see what I mean! Here is a poem that says, yeah, death will come (can’t get much darker than that) but………………….but…..Why not sing!

from Book of Hours


It’s death there
is no cure for—

life the long

If we’re lucky.

Otherwise, short
trip beyond.

And below.

growing shadow.

I chase the quiet
around the house.

Soon the sound—

wind wills
its way against

the panes. Welcome
the rain.

the moon’s squinting

into space.
The trees

bow like priests.

The storm lifts
up the leaves.

Why not sing.

Kevin Young from Blue Laws: Selected and Uncollected Poems 1995-2015, Alfred A. Knopf, 2016

Why not sing. Why not. And in that singing shout out Praise! Even inside death’s shadow. But the life there!

Why not sing. That means all of us! Each in their own way!


  1. Zia
    Posted February 12, 2017 at 3:55 pm | Permalink

    Thank you, Richard, and Kevin for helping me sing today. Many Thanks. Much Heart. Sing Sing Sing!

  2. Richard Osler
    Posted February 12, 2017 at 4:35 pm | Permalink

    Thank you Zia. Singing is always best when there is someone to sing to! Hope you are well! Sorry you missed the Victoria retreat. I am leading one in June in Italy! All best.

  3. Posted February 12, 2017 at 4:48 pm | Permalink

    Beautiful choice, Richard. I’ve so enjoyed this series and you always have such an uncanny way of finding the perfect poems for each blog.

  4. Richard Osler
    Posted February 12, 2017 at 6:16 pm | Permalink

    Thanks Heidi! So enjoying this too! All best!

  5. Zia
    Posted February 12, 2017 at 7:52 pm | Permalink

    Yes, I am sorry I missed the retreat, too! Italy? Wow!! That’s wonderful! Thank you for your fabulous blog, Richard. Love it!

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