The Poets

June 03, 2009

Oscar Brown Jr.: This Beach

I would rather not ruin what Oscar Brown Jr. intends to transmit here by a pre-commentary narrative. Suffice it to say that this is to-date my favorite oration by a poet.

Aside from the obvious, I’ll forego any ‘tags’ that might clue any listener on to the meaning behind his awesome poem: This Beach.

Click the box for better full-screen veiw.

My question to any viewer is this: What's this poem about?

BTW: It has nothing whatsoever to do about race or ethnicity.


lindakosut said...

I, too, won't go into much detail about the meaning of this piece, but Oscar recorded this in an arrangement with his another of his poems - new lyrics set to Monk's 'Round Midnight. I, so inspired by Oscar, recorded a CD of his music and poetry including this particular arrangement which I invite you to listen to. and scroll down to 'Round Midnight/The Beach.

Doug P. Baker said...

That was absolutely a perfect performance, and what a very powerful poem! I'm sorry to say that I was not familiar with Oscar Brown Jr. before, but I am going to look him up.

He really puts a voice to Dylan Thomas's advice:

"Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light."

But it's not rage exactly. . .

Doug P. Baker said...

I've been watching Oscar Brown Jr. on youtube. His CHILDREN OF CHILDREN is awesome too!

lindakosut said...

If you are interested in learning alot about OBJ, there is a documentary "Music is my life; politics my mistress - the story of Oscar Brown Jr." for which you can view the trailer on Do check him out. He was an amazing man - poet, producer, playwright, performer, etc.!

John W. May said...

Mr. Doug P. Baker, I agree hands down: Children of Children is totally awesome. I’m very happy you enjoyed the video clip.

And thank you, lindakosut. Your comments here are tremendously appreciated, and were of tremendous insight. I had some a little trouble plugging into the link of your first comment. However, the second link came through just perfectly (I enjoyed it very much) … May I ask: Are you a jazz artist yourself?

Jennifer Richardson said...

WOW! Powerful poem that transcends us sometimes younger folk. I think that he is talking about approaching not only old age but all that comes with it; memory loss, Alzheimer's, medical conditions and loss of life, love and friends. We each and every one of us approach this beach ever so slowly without knowing or acknowledging it until perhaps one day we are there before we know it or want it. And once there, there is no turning back. At the same time he is saying we go steadfast on to this place with no appeal and know that on the other side is death and perhaps God. I will definitely be looking at some more of his stuff, I loved it!

John W. May said...

Wow, Jen. Thank you! That was beautiful.

lindakosut said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
lindakosut said...

Hi all - to John, yes, I am a jazz/cabaret singer and for the past several years performed a tribute show to OBJ and recorded a CD of his work - which includes the Beach in an arrangement of his version of 'Round Midnight - together extraordinarily powerful. You can listen to some of that work at my website at if you like.

Another note: Oscar himself was fascinated by "time" starting as a young man in his 30s. He wrote much about the subject - both in poetry and prose. He was inclined to put his poetry to music, primarily jazz influenced music but he did not consider himself to be a jazz singer - he considered himself to be a singer and entertainer and much, much more.

He passed in 2005 at the age of 78. I think young people are first discovering him now. He was truly before his time!

Jennifer Richardson said...

I left out that somehow the poem talked to me of the wisdom of older people. How they have reached a capacity of wisdom and that is what has drawn them to that beach in the first place. And whether you wanted the wisdom you've obtained you got it anyways and it has brought you to this crossroads in your life. Be it good or bad.

As of April 9th, 2010