A New Year
The new year began, as the world fell into a state of unprecedented calm. And the farmer dropped his sickle and froze, witnessing a spectacle overwhelming in its common majesty. The sky was the brightest of blues, unblemished by cloud, the fields stretching before him were as the purest gold and without shadow. The wheat was plentiful and the hive ran with a honey rivaling the gold of the fields. Beyond, the streams were bright and clear as if poured from a crystals infinite center.
The children ceased their play and stood in baffled silence as a host of luminous balloons, wider than great ships, hovered, dipped as if in greeting, then ascended deep into that same blue.
Bowls of bread and fish and fruit materialized in the hands of the hungry. The sun drew the water from raging flood, relieving the saturated earth. The rain satiated drought and the desert flourished. Rivers teamed with fish, pink and plentiful. And the lame ran, the blind spun in a new radiance, and the sick rose refreshed.
The healing worm rose from the clay of creation and the tongue of every living thing brought forth understanding. And laughter rang out and the grieving were comforted. Bells of silver chimed and all bowed their heads, giving thanks. And rainbows circled the earth like the rings of Saturn, and all dipped their fingers into its formlessness and knew that it was good.
Patti Smith's commission A New Year with CIRCA marks the 50th anniversary of her first poetry recital at St. Mark’s Church-in-the-Bowery, New York City, on 10 February 1971. Smith used guitarist Lenny Kaye to accompany her poems after asking him if he could “play a car crash with an electric guitar.” She described the performance as “a bit controversial because we had sort of desecrated the hall of poetry with an electric guitar.” This controversial mix of poetry and rock ‘n’ roll would soon become Smith’s trademark style and her path to recognition. For her first performance, she read a poem called “Oath” which begins, “Christ died for somebody’s sins but not mine.” This line, with “Christ” changed to “Jesus,” would become the opening of her most famous album Horses four years later. Smith continued to read occasionally at St. Mark’s Poetry Project while she established herself in the music world.