Tuesday, July 05, 2005

"Hey, baby...

...it's the 4th of July"

A great song, that, by my favorite LA punk band, X. They don't play it much these days, but it's worth knowing.

So many poetry blogs had grim tidings of great distress this weekend that I was tempted to post something rousing and patriotic, just to buck the trend, but even I felt a chill or two as the bombs burst in air over Skokie, and I remembered how lucky, very lucky, I was to be sitting back in a plastic chair enjoying the show, and not fearing for my life, or my wife's, or my daughter's or son's.

Here's this, then, which I stumbled upon in some reading for the seminar. We haven't talked about it yet, but it's a poem to know, by Robinson Jeffers. Read it and weep, as they say?

(It's in couplets of very long lines--I apologize for the formatting screw-ups!)

Shine, Perishing Republic

While this America settles in the mould of its vulgarity, heavily thickening to empire
And protest, only a bubble in the molten mass, pops and sighs out, and the mass hardens,

I sadly smiling remember that the flower fades to make fruit, the fruit rots to make earth.
Out of the mother; and through the spring exultances, ripeness and decadence; and home to the mother.

You making haste haste on decay: not blameworthy; life is good, be it stubbornly long or suddenly
A mortal splendor: meteors are not needed less than mountains: shine, perishing republic.

But for my children, I would have them keep their distance from the thickening center; corruption
Never has been compulsory, when the cities lie at the monster's feet there are left the mountains.

And boys, be in nothing so moderate as in love of man, a clever servant, insufferable master.
There is the trap that catches noblest spirits, that caught – they say –God, when he walked on earth.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This return to Jeffers brought these lines to mind, loosely paraphrased, that if we could speed time up enough we would see that even the mountains are dancing...and with us.