Tuesday, July 26, 2011

The Debt and Poetry

I read a poem earlier today that I thought reflected a lot of the fears that people felt about the "Debt Crisis" and thought I would share a few bits from it. It's a poem titled "America Was Promises" by Archibald Macleish and can be found in its entirety HERE. So here are a few lines that I thought sounded very good after hearing a few worried senior citizens converse about the future of social security and Medicare. It starts:

Who is the voyager in these leaves?
Who is the traveler in this journey
deciphers the revolving night: receives
The signal from the light returning?

America was promises to whom?

                                                   East were the
Dead kings and the remembered sepulchres:
West was the grass.
                               The groves of the oaks were at evening.

Eastward are the nights where we have slept.

And we move on: we move down:
With the first light we push forward:
We descend from the past as a wandering people from the mountains.

(It goes on...)

America was promises-to whom?

Jefferson knew:
Declared it before God and before history:

(...he delves into a rambling yet insightful flow that glues me to the music of the words)

And the Aristocracy of politic selfishness
Bought the land up: bought the towns: the sites:
The goods: the government: the people. Bled them.
Sold them. Kept the profit. Lost itself.

(down a bit...)

The Aristocracy of Wealth and Talents
Turned its talents into wealth and lost them.
Turned enlightened selfishness to wealth.
Turned self-intrest into bankbooks: balanced them.


The Aristocracy of Wealth and Talents
Moved out: settled on the Continent:
Sat beside the water at Rapallo:
Died in a rent house: unwept: unhonored.

(and the last passage I really like)

We do not ask for Truth now from John Adams.
We do not ask for Tongues from Thomas Jefferson.
We do not ask for Justice from Tom Paine.
We ask for answers.

And there is an answer.

There is Spain Austria Poland China Bohemia.
There are dead men in the pits in all those countries.
Their mouths are silent but they speak. They say
"The promises are theirs who take them."

I spoke for a while with an older lady this evening and we both shared stories that told me we have nothing to worry about if the US can't reach an agreement on the debt. Humans are humans. We have been through worse and will be through worse. We will continue to eat food, drink water and breathe air.

I think something will work out so that all this fear is eased. If something isn't done, there will be many riots and people jumping off the Golden Gate so fast that it will look like a wall of concrete being poured into the Bay. That won't happen. No responsible head of a government would let a tragedy occur on their watch...right?

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