Thursday, July 04, 2013

On-line Floricanto for the Fourth

On-line Floricanto Independence Day 2013

Michael Sedano

Fourth of July, United States Independence Day, comes with fireworks and nationalistic hostilities. The chest-thumping crowd puts on their blinders so all they see are the red, white, and blue. More and more, gente acknowledge the grave markers, row upon row decorated by those flags.

Point seven five percent of the United States population is in uniform this Independence Day. We still have one million one hundred eighty-nine thousand living WWII Veterans. Twelve percent of Bush and Obama’s Veterans are unemployed. Twenty-six percent of Veterans who are designated Poor also have a disability. Of the nation’s 308,745,538 people who were created equal, twenty-one million can call themselves Veterans. One point six million are women. No wonder there’s so much good poetry about dead and dying soldiers; being one is rare.

A couple blocks away a ball game singer renders sweetly the National Anthem. Some drunken lout screams out whatever drunken louts like him scream out. She hits that high note with a rich purity of tone. The lout screams again.

Two poems strike me as Fourth of July material, Emerson’s “Concord Hymn” and Shelley’s “Ozymandias.” The United States Empire begins with Emerson’s first bullet. An empire’s hubris is its only reward in Shelley’s desert emptiness.

A third poem is one of those, “goes without saying,” pieces, ee cummings “next to of course God”

Concord Hymn

Sung at the Completion of the Battle Monument, July 4, 1837

By the rude bridge that arched the flood,
Their flag to April’s breeze unfurled,
Here once the embattled farmers stood
And fired the shot heard round the world.

The foe long since in silence slept;
Alike the conqueror silent sleeps;
And Time the ruined bridge has swept
Down the dark stream which seaward creeps.

On this green bank, by this soft stream,
We set today a votive stone;
That memory may their deed redeem,
When, like our sires, our sons are gone.

Spirit, that made those heroes dare
To die, and leave their children free,
Bid Time and Nature gently spare
The shaft we raise to them and thee.


I met a traveller from an antique land,
Who said—“Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. . . . Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them, and the heart that fed;
And on the pedestal, these words appear:
My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings;
Look on my Works, ye Mighty, and despair!
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal Wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.”

"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
--ee cummings

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