Monday, June 15, 2009


You ever hear the saying, "You're dead to me"?

Turns out that's what the people who run the Grammy Awards said to Polka Music last week.

It has officially been eliminated as a competitive category for that hallowed music industry award.

Polka is dead.

Long live polka.



When I was a child
I once sat sobbing on the floor
Beside my mother's piano
As she played and sang
For there was in her singing
A shy yet solemn glory
My smallness could not hold

And when I was asked
Why I was crying
I had no words for it
I only shook my head
And went on crying

Why is it that music
At its most beautiful
Opens a wound in us
An ache a desolation
Deep as a homesickness
For some far-off
And half-forgotten country

I've never understood
Why this is so

But there's an ancient legend
From the other side of the world
That gives away the secret
Of this mysterious sorrow

For centuries on centuries
We have been wandering
But we were made for Paradise
As deer for the forest

And when music comes to us
With its heavenly beauty
It brings us desolation
For when we hear it
We half remember
That lost native country

We dimly remember the fields
Their fragrant windswept clover
The birdsongs in the orchards
The wild white violets in the moss
By the transparent streams

And shining at the heart of it
Is the longed-for beauty
Of the One who waits for us
Who will always wait for us
In those radiant meadows

Yet also came to live with us
And wanders where we wander

[by Anne Porter from "Living Things: Collected Poems" copyright 2006 Steerforth Press; as reprinted with permission in The Writer's Almanac]


WORD for YOUR WEEK: So where does this word "polka" come from and why do we have both polka dots and polka music? Turns out the word is originally from Poland, where it was the feminine form of "polock" - literally a Polish woman instead of a man. Some sources think it may also be an alteration of the Czech word "pulka," which meant "half" and was used to describe the half-steps in a peasant dance popular in the early 1800s. The dance - and the word - migrated to England in the mid-1800s and the dance step began being called a "polka dot" due to the deliberate stamping of the foot instead of a more elegant step. The dance and the words were caught up by fashion designers who used the term to describe the dotted fabrics they were creating.


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