“next to of course god america i
love you land of the pilgrims’ and so forth oh
say can you see by the dawn’s early my
country ’tis of centuries come and go
and are no more what of it we should worry
in every language even deafanddumb
thy sons acclaim your glorious name by gorry
by jingo by gee by gosh by gum
why talk of beauty what could be more beaut-
iful than these heroic happy dead
who rushed like lions to the roaring slaughter
they did not stop to think they died instead
then shall the voice of liberty be mute?”
He spoke. And drank rapidly a glass of water
This keeps with his concentrated genius for putting back in the politician's faces with their own politicized babble, but only after taking a hammer to it. Under all the huff and puff about God, glory and country stands revealed forces that would have us all fearful, in debt and apathetic to calls for change. How appropriate for the current climate; the poem, though, does not let us off the hook; we are complacent with the fools for letting them have their way. The shock of this poem is that there are many of us, these days, decades after this was written, who recognize our own voices saying moronic things like this.
Might there come a time, should the Obama initiatives work and Our Country again starts to fulfill it's promise, that some good poets would feel moved to write something positive about America and mean it, without commission, salary, title? Will we have a poetry again that speaks truthfully of our virtues rather than our insanity?