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Transcript of Survivors-Found
Joan E. Murray
Born: November 6, 1941, in Ithaca, NY.
Family: Daughter of Isaiah William and Amanda Pearl Murray. Isaiah was a construction worker and union executive.
Education: Attended Ithaca College, Hunter College of the City University of New York, New School for Social Research, and the French Institute.
Career: Secretary-assistant in network press information department; a production assistant and script assistant for "Candid Camera" series; a hostess, writer, and producer for television program "Women on the Move"; and a news correspondent, interviewer, and hostess of syndicated radio program, "The Joan Murray Show ... And There Are Women". Murray also lectured at colleges and universities in the United States and abroad.
Survivors - Found
by Joan Murray
We thought that they were gone
we rarely saw them on our screens
those everyday Americans
with workaday routines,
and the heroes standing ready
not glamorous enough
on days without a tragedy,
we clicked and turned them off.
We only saw the cynics
the dropouts, show-offs, snobs
the right and left wing critics:
we saw that they were us.
But with the wounds of Tuesday
when the smoke began to clear,
we rubbed away our stony gaze
and watched them reappear:
the waitress in the tower,
the broker reading mail,
a pair of window washers,
filling up a final pail,
the husband's last "I love you"
from the last seat of a plane,
the tourist taking in a view
no one would see again,
the fireman, his eyes ablaze
as he climbed the swaying stairs
he knew someone would be saved.
We wondered who it was.
We glimpsed them through the rubble:
the ones who lost there lives,
the heroes' double burials,
the ones now "left behind"
the ones who rolled a sleeve up,
the ones in scrubs and masks,
the ones who lifted buckets,
filled with stone and grief and ash:
some spoke a different language
still no one missed a phrase;
the soot and softened every face
of every shade and age
"the greatest generation"?
we wondered where they'd gone
they hadn't left directions
how to find our nations home:
for thirty years we saw few signs,
but now in swirls of dust,
they were alive-- they had survived
we saw that they were us.
The poem is in reflection of the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11th, 2001 in New York City. It tells the tale of how it was just an average day in the city and then our world was taken by surprise when two of our own planes were hijacked and flown into the twin towers. The attack killed almost 3,000 people and caused at least $10 billion in property and infrastructure damage. It left every citizen distraught and in shock as to the tragedy that had occurred. Murray was influenced by the way it impacted our nation as a whole and how we came together to grow stronger and not let it break us.
"wounds of Tuesday"
"last seat of a plane"
"We thought that they were
gone" . . .
"we saw that they were us."
"we only saw the cynics"
"the heroes' double burials"
"the soot had softened every face/of every shade and age"
"the greatest generation?"
David Kelly raves it as a poem "to live by in uncertain
times" and that "Survivors- Found has become an anthem for 9/11 and ten years later it stills reminds us of what we gained in the midst of all that terrible loss"
Micheal Becker exclaims that "people seem to need the poem because it paid tribute to our better natures and gave us something to weigh against the horrors and sorrows of that day."
Shelly E. Taylor doesn't find Murray's work as astonishing. Taylor explains that it is "promising only in relation to the body of current American verse ... melodious and thoughtful, often obscure but
nevertheless lacks the seeds of real poetic gift--
intensity melody and personal depth of
Despite the death and horror there is
always a light the remains bright.
Murray wanted to show that despite the loss
of thousands of brave, generous, everyday
people, many more like them could be found.
Just like the fireman climbing the swaying stairs and the ones who rolled a sleeve up.