Meryl Streep Sings Her Mother’s Lullaby
By Maria Popova
Since its founding in 1934 by a visionary 23-year-old woman named Marie Bullock, The Academy of American Poets has been the country’s most spirited champion of poetry as a force of beauty, truth, and cultural upheaval, working tirelessly at everything from protecting the artist’s right to challenge the status quo to standing for social justice to inviting prominent poets into underprivileged schools.
For fifteen years, the Academy has been hosting Poetry & the Creative Mind during National Poetry Month — an evening of poems by some of the greatest poets humanity has produced, brought to life by beloved actors, writers, and musicians.
The 2017 edition — which featured readers like Amanda Palmer, Sebastian Junger, Elizabeth Alexander, Meg Ryan, Cécile McLorin Salvant, Uzo Aduba, and Maurice Hines, reading poems by Adrienne Rich, Langston Hughes, Mark Strand, Maya Angelou, E.E. Cummings, and more — concluded with a most unexpected and tender moment: Meryl Streep, a longtime supporter of the Academy and honorary co-chair of the evening, turned to Amanda Palmer behind her and dedicated to Amanda’s baby son Ash the lullaby Streep’s own mother hand sung to her — an 1845 children’s rhyme by the American educator and poet Julia Abigail Fletcher Carney, titled “Little Things,” which became Streep’s first encounter with poetry.
I was fortunate to capture this unrepeatable moment of sweetness — please enjoy:
Little drops of water,
Little grains of sand,
Make the mighty ocean
And the pleasant land.
Thus the little minutes,
Humble though they be,
Make the mighty ages
Please join me in supporting The Academy of American Poets, a noble organization that survives on passion and generosity, then revisit Amanda Palmer’s beautiful reading of “Humanity I love you” by E.E. Cummings.
UPDATE: A recording of Streep’s performance appears on Borderless Lullabies — a wonderful charitable compilation benefiting refugee children.
Published April 21, 2017