Song of Democracy

Today is July 4, American Independence Day. I could use this space to spout criticism, express my disappointment in my country. After all, there is a lot to complain about.

But today is a beautiful day, the kind of day where any minute spent inside better be for a good reason, like using the bathroom or replenishing the beer and snacks to be eaten on the back deck. I'm in no mood to be cynical, so instead I'm sharing a poem by Walt Whitman, one of our country's great poets and patriots.

Song of Democracy
by Walt Whitman

An old man's thoughts of school,
An old man's gathering youthful memories and
blooms that youth itself cannot. Now only do I know You,
O fair auroral skies - O morning dew upon the grass!And these I see, these sparkling eyes,
These stores of mystic meaning, these young lives,
Building, equipping like a fleet of ships, immortal ships,
Soon to sail out over the measureless seas,
On the soul's voyage.

Only a lot of boys and girls?
Only the tiresome spelling, writing, ciphering classes?
Only a public school?
Ah more, infinitely more.

And you America,
Cast you the real reckoning for your present?
The lights and shadows of your future, good or evil?
To girlhood, boyhood look, the teacher and the school.

Sail, Sail thy best, ship of Democracy,
Of value is thy freight, 'tis not the present only,
The Past is also stored in thee.
Thou holdest not the venture of thyself alone,
not of thy Western continent alone.
Earth's resume entire floats on thy keel, O ship,
is steadied by thy spars,
With thee Time voyages in trust, the antecedent
nations sink or swim with thee.
With all their ancient struggles, martyrs, heroes,
epics, wars, thou bear'st the other continents,
Theirs, theirs as much as thine, the destination -
port triumphant;
Steer then with good strong hand and wary eye
O helmsman, thou carriest great companions,
Venerable priestly Asia sails this day with thee,
And royal feudal Europe sails with thee.
And royal feudal Europe sails with thee.


Anonymous said…
I'm glad you didn't spout criticism. There is indeed a lot to complain about if one wishes, as this world is an imperfect one, but i firmly believe everyone is better off if we focus on the positive.


Popular Posts