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The Birthday of the World

As we say goodbye to 5777 and come together at the start of 5778, Marge Piercy’s poem “The Birthday of the World” has been resonating through the halls of JWA. Like Piercy, we’re asking ourselves: How have we worked to make change this past year? What have we dared? What will we do in the coming year to further justice, to speak out and take a stand?

We’re sharing Piercy’s powerful poem with you, in the hopes that it will inspire your own reflection for 5778.

The Birthday of the World

I begin to contemplate
what I have done and
left undone, but this year
not so much rebuilding

of my perennially damaged
psyche, shoring up eroding
friendships, digging out
stumps of old resentments
that refuse to rot on their own.

No, this year I want to call
myself to task for what
I have done and not done
for peace. How much have
I dared in opposition?

How much have I put
on the line for freedom?
For mine and others?
As these freedoms are pared,
sliced and diced, where

have I spoken out? Who
have I tried to move? In
this holy season, I stand
self-convicted of sloth
in a time when lies choke
the mind and rhetoric
bends reason to slithering
choking pythons. Here
I stand before the gates
opening, the fire dazzling

my eyes, and as I approach
what judges me, I judge
myself. Give me weapons
of minute destruction. Let
my words turn into sparks.

Happy Holidays, from JWA!

Piercy, Marge. “The Birthday of the World by Marge Piercy.” Poetry Foundation, Poetry Foundation.

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How to cite this page

Book, Bella. "The Birthday of the World." 20 September 2017. Jewish Women's Archive. (Viewed on September 19, 2019) <https://jwa.org/blog/birthday-of-world>.

Image of Marge Piercy with pomegranate drawing.

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