The spirit of Ubuntu, that once led Haiti to emerge as the first independent black nation in 1804, helped Venezuela, Colombia and Ecuador attain liberty, and inspired our forefathers to shed their blood for the United States' independence, cannot die. Today, this spirit of solidarity must and will empower all of us to rebuild Haiti.
We Turn To The United States
When your country comes under attack
By nature or evil forces
Who do you turn to for help?
Which country do you think is going
To swiftly come to your aid? America
In the midst of plenty, they give
In the midst of downturn in their economy; they give
You feel secure knowing they are strong
What country could that be? America
They spread their wings far and wide
They stand in the path of justice for the weak
They warn those whose might envelope others
A voice of resolution and conviction
Deliver to the world by them
They will not be defeated
Like them or not, they are brave and ready
They will defend their nation with blood
Sweat, love and missiles
They will stand with their friends and foes
Bold, courageous, adventurous, trusting,
Giving, carrying the torch of justice
To new horizon, for God's light shines on them
They are citizens of the United States of America
To the United States Senate
And must the Senator from Illinois
Be this squat thing, with blinking, half-closed eyes?
This brazen gutter idol, reared to power
Upon a leering pyramid of lies?
And must the Senator from Illinois
Be the world's proverb of successful shame,
Dazzling all State house flies that steal and steal,
Who, when the sad State spares them, count it fame?
If once or twice within his new won hall
His vote had counted for the broken men;
If in his early days he wrought some good —
We might a great soul's sins forgive him then.
But must the Senator from Illinois
Be vindicated by fat kings of gold?
And must he be belauded by the smirched,
The sleek, uncanny chiefs in lies grown old?
Be warned, O wanton ones, who shielded him —
Black wrath awaits. You all shall eat the dust.
You dare not say: "To-morrow will bring peace;
Let us make merry, and go forth in lust."
What will you trading frogs do on a day
When Armageddon thunders thro' the land;
When each sad patriot rises, mad with shame,
His ballot or his musket in his hand?
In the distracted states from which you came
The day is big with war hopes fierce and strange;
Our iron Chicagos and our grimy mines
Rumble with hate and love and solemn change.
Too many weary men shed honest tears,
Ground by machines that give the Senate ease.
Too many little babes with bleeding hands
Have heaped the fruits of empire on your knees.
And swine within the Senate in this day,
When all the smothering by-streets weep and wail;
When wisdom breaks the hearts of her best sons;
When kingly men, voting for truth, may fail: —
These are a portent and a call to arms.
Our protest turns into a battle cry:
"Our shame must end, our States be free and clean;
And in this war we choose to live and die."
The White Cliffs
I have loved England, dearly and deeply,
Since that first morning, shining and pure,
The white cliffs of Dover I saw rising steeply
Out of the sea that once made her secure.
I had no thought then of husband or lover,
I was a traveller, the guest of a week;
Yet when they pointed 'the white cliffs of Dover',
Startled I found there were tears on my cheek.
I have loved England, and still as a stranger,
Here is my home and I still am alone.
Now in her hour of trial and danger,
Only the English are really her own.
It happened the first evening I was there.
Some one was giving a ball in Belgrave Square.
At Belgrave Square, that most Victorian spot.—
Lives there a novel-reader who has not
At some time wept for those delightful girls,
Daughters of dukes, prime ministers and earls,
In bonnets, berthas, bustles, buttoned basques,
Hiding behind their pure Victorian masks
Hearts just as hot - hotter perhaps than those
Whose owners now abandon hats and hose?
Who has not wept for Lady Joan or Jill
Loving against her noble parent's will
A handsome guardsman, who to her alarm
Feels her hand kissed behind a potted palm
At Lady Ivry's ball the dreadful night
Before his regiment goes off to fight;
And see him the next morning, in the park,
Complete in busbee, marching to embark.
I had read freely, even as a child,
Not only Meredith and Oscar Wilde
But many novels of an earlier day—
Ravenshoe, Can You Forgive Her?, Vivien Grey,
Ouida, The Duchess, Broughton's Red As a Rose,
Guy Livingstone, Whyte-Melville— Heaven knows
What others. Now, I thought, I was to see
Their habitat, though like the Miller of Dee,
I cared for none and no one cared for me.
A light blue carpet on the stair
And tall young footmen everywhere,
Tall young men with English faces
Standing rigidly in their places,
Rows and rows of them stiff and staid
In powder and breeches and bright gold braid;
And high above them on the wall
Hung other English faces-all
Part of the pattern of English life—
General Sir Charles, and his pretty wife,
Admirals, Lords-Lieutenant of Shires,
Men who were served by these footmen's sires
At their great parties-none of them knowing
How soon or late they would all be going
In plainer dress to a sterner strife-
Another pattern of English life.
I went up the stairs between them all,
Strange and frightened and shy and small,
And as I entered the ballroom door,
Saw something I had never seen before
Except in portraits— a stout old guest
With a broad blue ribbon across his breast—
That blue as deep as the southern sea,
Bluer than skies can ever be—
The Countess of Salisbury—Edward the Third—
No damn merit— the Duke— I heard
My own voice saying; 'Upon my word,
The garter!' and clapped my hands like a child.
Some one beside me turned and smiled,
And looking down at me said: 'I fancy,
You're Bertie's Australian cousin Nancy.
He toId me to tell you that he'd be late
At the Foreign Office and not to wait
Supper for him, but to go with me,
And try to behave as if I were he.'
I should have told him on the spot
That I had no cousin—that I was not
Australian Nancy—that my name
Was Susan Dunne, and that I came
From a small white town on a deep-cut bay
In the smallest state in the U.S.A.
I meant to tell him, but changed my mind—
I needed a friend, and he seemed kind;
So I put my gloved hand into his glove,
And we danced together— and fell in love.
Young and in love-how magical the phrase!
How magical the fact! Who has not yearned
Over young lovers when to their amaze
They fall in love and find their love returned,
And the lights brighten, and their eyes are clear
To see God's image in their common clay.
Is it the music of the spheres they hear?
Is it the prelude to that noble play,
The drama of Joined Lives? Ah, they forget
They cannot write their parts; the bell has rung,
The curtain rises and the stage is set
For tragedy-they were in love and young.
We went to the Tower,
We went to the Zoo,
We saw every flower
In the gardens at Kew.
We saw King Charles a-prancing
On his long-tailed horse,
And thought him more entrancing
Than better kings, of course.
At a strange early hour,
In St. James's palace yard,
We watched in a shower
The changing of the guard.
And I said, what a pity,
To have just a week to spend,
When London is a city
Whose beauties never end!
When the sun shines on England, it atones
For low-hung leaden skies, and rain and dim
Moist fogs that paint the verdure on her stones
And fill her gentle rivers to the brim.
When the sun shines on England, shafts of light
Fall on far towers and hills and dark old trees,
And hedge-bound meadows of a green as bright—
As bright as is the blue of tropic seas.
When the sun shines, it is as if the face
Of some proud man relaxed his haughty stare,
And smiled upon us with a sudden grace,
Flattering because its coming is so rare.
The English are frosty
When you're no kith or kin
Of theirs, but how they alter
When once they take you in!
The kindest, the truest,
The best friends ever known,
It's hard to remember
How they froze you to a bone.
They showed me all London,
Johnnie and his friends;
They took me to the country
For long week-ends;
I never was so happy,
I never had such fun,
I stayed many weeks in England
Instead of just one.
John had one of those English faces
That always were and will always be
Found in the cream of English places
Till England herself sink into the sea—
A blond, bowed face with prominent eyes
A little bit bluer than English skies.
You see it in ruffs and suits of armour,
You see it in wigs of many styles,
Soldier and sailor, judge and farmer—
That face has governed the British Isles,
By the power, for good or ill bestowed,
Only on those who live by code.
Oh, that inflexible code of living,
That seems so easy and unconstrained,
The Englishman's code of taking and giving
Rights and privileges pre-ordained,
Based since English life began
On the prime importance of being a man.
And what a voice he had-gentle, profound,
Clear masculine!—I melted at the sound.
Oh, English voices, are there any words
Those tones to tell, those cadences to teach!
As song of thrushes is to other birds,
So English voices are to other speech;
Those pure round 'o's '—those lovely liquid 'l's'
Ring in the ears like sound of Sabbath bells.
Yet I have loathed those voices when the sense
Of what they said seemed to me insolence,
As if the dominance of the whole nation
Lay in that clear correct enunciation.
Many years later, I remember when
One evening I overheard two men
In Claridge's— white waistcoats, coats I know
Were built in Bond Street or in Savile Row—
So calm, so confident, so finely bred—
Young gods in tails— and this is what they said:
'Not your first visit to the States?' 'Oh no,
I'd been to Canada two years ago.'
Good God, I thought, have they not heard that we
Were those queer colonists who would be free,
Who took our desperate chance, and fought and won
Under a colonist called Washington?
One does not lose one's birthright, it appears.
I had been English then for many years.
We went down to Cambridge,
Cambridge in the spring.
In a brick court at twilight
We heard the thrushes sing,
And we went to evening service
In the chapel of the King.
The library of Trinity,
The quadrangle of Clare,
John bought a pipe from Bacon,
And I acquired there
The Anecdotes of Painting
From a handcart in the square.
The Playing fields at sunset
Were vivid emerald green,
The elms were tall and mighty,
And many youths were seen,
Carefree young gentlemen
In the Spring of 'Fourteen.
London, just before dawn-immense and dark—
Smell of wet earth and growth from the empty Park,
Pall Mall vacant-Whitehall deserted. Johnnie and I
Strolling together, averse to saying good-bye—
Strolling away from some party in silence profound,
Only far off in Mayfair, piercing, the sound
Of a footman's whistle—the rhythm of hoofs on wood,
Further and further away. . . . And now we stood
On a bridge, where a poet came to keep
Vigil while all the city lay asleep—
Westminster Bridge, and soon the sun would rise,
And I should see it with my very eyes!
Yes, now it came— a broad and awful glow
Out of the violet mists of dawn. 'Ah, no',
I said. 'Earth has not anything to show
More fair— changed though it is— than this.'
A curious background surely for a kiss—
Our first— Westminster Bridge at break of day—
Settings by Wordsworth, as John used to say.
Why do we fall in love? I do believe
That virtue is the magnet, the small vein
Of ore, the spark, the torch that we receive
At birth, and that we render back again.
That drop of godhood, like a precious stone,
May shine the brightest in the tiniest flake.
Lavished on saints, to sinners not unknown;
In harlot, nun, philanthropist, and rake,
It shines for those who love; none else discern
Evil from good; Men's fall did not bestow
That threatened wisdom; blindly still we yearn
After a virtue that we do not know,
Until our thirst and longing rise above
The barriers of reason—and we love.
And still I did not see my life was changed,
Utterly different—by this love estranged
For ever and ever from my native land;
That I was now of that unhappy band
Who lose the old, and cannot gain the new
However loving and however true
To their new duties. I could never be
An English woman, there was that in me
Puritan, stubborn that would not agree
To English standards, though I did not see
The truth, because I thought them, good or ill,
So great a people—and I think so still.
But a day came when I was forced to face
Facts. I was taken down to see the place,
The family place in Devon— and John's mother.
'Of course, you understand,' he said, 'my brother
Will have the place.' He smiled; he was so sure
The world was better for primogeniture.
And yet he loved that place, as Englishmen
Do love their native countryside, and when
The day should be as it was sure to be—
When this was home no more to him— when he
Could go there only when his brother's wife
Should ask him—to a room not his— his life
Would shrink and lose its meaning. How unjust,
I thought. Why do they feel it must
Go to that idle, insolent eldest son?
Well, in the end it went to neither one.
A red brick manor-house in Devon,
In a beechwood of old grey trees,
Ivy climbing to the clustered chimneys,
Rustling in the wet south breeze.
Gardens trampled down by Cromwell's army,
Orchards of apple-trees and pears,
Casements that had looked for the Armada,
And a ghost on the stairs.
Johnnie's mother, the Lady Jean,
Child of a penniless Scottish peer,
Was handsome, worn high-coloured, lean,
With eyes like Johnnie's—more blue and clear—
Like bubbles of glass in her fine tanned face.
Quiet, she was, and so at ease,
So perfectly sure of her rightful place
In the world that she felt no need to please.
I did not like her—she made me feel
Talkative, restless, unsure, as if
I were a cross between parrot and eel.
I thought her blank and cold and stiff.
And presently she said as they
Sooner or later always say:
'You're an American, Miss Dunne?
Really you do not speak like one.'
She seemed to think she'd said a thing
Both courteous and flattering.
I answered though my wrist were weak
With anger: 'Not at all, I speak—
At least I've always thought this true—
As educated people do
In any country-even mine.'
'Really?' I saw her head incline,
I saw her ready to assert
Americans are easily hurt.
Strange to look back to the days
So long ago
When a friend was almost a foe,
When you hurried to find a phrase
For your easy light dispraise
Of a spirit you did not know,
A nature you could not plumb
In the moment of meeting,
Not guessing a day would come
When your heart would ache to hear
Other men's tongues repeating
Those same light phrases that jest and jeer
At a friend now grown so dear— so dear.
Strange to remember long ago
When a friend was almost a foe.
I saw the house with its oaken stair,
And the Tudor Rose on the newel post,
The panelled upper gallery where
They told me you heard the family ghost—
'A gentle unhappy ghost who sighs
Outside one's door on the night one dies.'
'Not,' Lady Jean explained, 'at all
Like the ghost at my father's place, St. Kitts,
That clanks and screams in the great West Hall
And frightens strangers out of their wits.'
I smiled politely, not thinking I
Would hear one midnight that long sad sigh.
I saw the gardens, after our tea
(Crumpets and marmalade, toast and cake)
And Drake's Walk, leading down to the sea;
Lady Jean was startled I'd heard of Drake,
For the English always find it a mystery
That Americans study English history.
I saw the picture of every son—
Percy, the eldest, and John; and Bill
In Chinese Customs, and the youngest one
Peter, the sailor, at Osborne still;
And the daughter, Enid, married, alas,
To a civil servant in far Madras.
A little thing happened, just before
We left— the evening papers came;
John, flicking them over to find a score,
Spoke for the first time a certain name—
The name of a town in a distant land
Etched on our hearts by a murderer's hand.
Mother and son exchanged a glance,
A curious glance of strength and dread.
I thought: what matter to them if Franz
Ferdinand dies? One of them said:
This might be serious.' 'Yes, you're right.'
The other answered, 'It really might.'
Dear John: I'm going home. I write to say
Goodbye. My boat-train leaves at break of day;
It will be gone when this is in your hands.
I've had enough of lovely foreign lands,
Sightseeing, strangers, holiday and play;
I'm going home to those who think the way
I think, and speak as I do. Will you try
To understand that this must be good-bye?
We both rooted deeply in the soil
Of our own countries. But I could not spoil
Our happy memories with the stress and strain
Of parting; if we never meet again
Be sure I shall remember till I die
Your love, your laugh, your kindness. But—goodbye.
Please do not hate me; give the devil his due,
This is an act of courage. Always, Sue.
The boat-train rattling
Through the green country-side;
A girl within it battling
With her tears and pride.
The Southampton landing,
Porters, neat and quick,
And a young man standing,
Leaning on his stick.
'Oh, John, John, you shouldn't
Have come this long way. . .
'Did you really think I wouldn't
Be here to make you stay?'
I can't remember whether
There was much stress and strain,
But presently, together,
We were travelling back again.
The English love their country with a love
Steady, and simple, wordless, dignified;
I think it sets their patriotism above
All others. We Americans have pride—
We glory in our country's short romance.
We boast of it and love it. Frenchmen when
The ultimate menace comes, will die for France
Logically as they lived. But Englishmen
Will serve day after day, obey the law,
And do dull tasks that keep a nation strong.
Once I remember in London how I saw
Pale shabby people standing in a long
Line in the twilight and the misty rain
To pay their tax. I then saw England plain.
Johnnie and I were married. England then
Had been a week at war, and all the men
Wore uniform, as English people can,
Unconscious of it. Percy, the best man,
As thin as paper and as smart as paint,
Bade us good-by with admirable restraint,
Went from the church to catch his train to hell;
And died-saving his batman from a shell.
We went down to Devon,
In a warm summer rain,
Knowing that our happiness
Might never come again;
I, not forgetting,
'Till death us do part,'
Was outrageously happy
With death in my heart.
Lovers in peacetime
With fifty years to live,
Have time to tease and quarrel
And question what to give;
But lovers in wartime
The fullness of living,
With death close at hand.
My father wrote me a letter—
My father, scholarly, indolent, strong,
Teaching Greek better
Than high-school students repay—
Teaching Greek in the winter, but all summer long
Sailing a yawl in Narragansett Bay;
Happier perhaps when I was away,
Free of an anxious daughter,
He could sail blue water
Day after day,
Beyond Brenton Reef Lightship, and Beavertail,
Past Cuttyhunk to catch a gale
Off the Cape, while he thought of Hellas and Troy,
Chanting with joy
Greek choruses— those lines that he said
Must be written some day on a stone at his head:
'But who can know
As the long years go
That to live is happy, has found his heaven.'
My father, so far away—
I thought of him, in Devon,
Anchoring in a blind fog in Booth Bay.
'So, Susan, my dear,' the letter began,
'You've fallen in love with an Englishman.
Well, they're a manly, attractive lot,
If you happen to like them, which I do not.
I am a Yankee through and through,
And I don't like them, or the things they do.
Whenever it's come to a knock-down fight
With us, they were wrong, and we right;
If you don't believe me, cast your mind
Back over history, what do you find?
They certainly had no justification
For that maddening plan to impose taxation
Without any form of representation.
Your man may be all that a man should be,
Only don't you bring him back to me
Saying he can't get decent tea—
He could have got his tea all right
In Boston Harbour a certain night,
When your great-great-grandmother— also a Sue—
Shook enough tea from her husband's shoe
To supply her house for a week or two.
The war of 1812 seems to me
About as just as a war could be.
How could we help but come to grips
With a nation that stopped and searched our ships,
And took off our seamen for no other reason
Except that they needed crews that season.
I can get angry still at the tale
Of their letting the Alabama sail,
And Palmerston being insolent
To Lincoln and Seward over the Trent.
All very long ago, you'll say,
But whenever I go up Boston-way,
I drive through Concord—that neck of the wood,
Where once the embattled farmers stood,
And I think of Revere, and the old South Steeple,
And I say, by heck, we're the only people
Who licked them not only once, but twice.
Never forget it-that's my advice.
They have their points—they're honest and brave,
Loyal and sure—as sure as the grave;
They make other nations seem pale and flighty,
But they do think England is god almighty,
And you must remind them now and then
That other countries breed other men.
From all of which you will think me rather
Unjust. I am. Your devoted Father.
I read, and saw my home with sudden yearning—
The small white wooden house, the grass-green door,
My father's study with the fire burning,
And books piled on the floor.
I saw the moon-faced clock that told the hours,
The crimson Turkey carpet, worn and frayed,
The heavy dishes—gold with birds and flowers—
Fruits of the China trade.
I saw the jack o' lanterns, friendly, frightening,
Shine from our gateposts every Hallow-e'en;
I saw the oak tree, shattered once by lightning,
Twisted, stripped clean.
I saw the Dioscuri— two black kittens,
Stalking relentlessly an empty spool;
I saw a little girl in scarlet mittens
Trudging through snow to school.
John read the letter with his lovely smile.
'Your father has a vigorous English style,
And what he says is true, upon my word;
But what's this war of which I never heard?
We didn't fight in 1812.' 'Yes, John,
That was the time when you burnt Washington.'
'We couldn't have, my dear. . .' 'I mean the city.'
'We burnt it?' 'Yes, you did.' 'What a pity!
No wonder people hate us. But, I say,
I'll make your father like me yet, some day.'
I settled down in Devon,
When Johnnie went to France.
Such a tame ending
To a great romance—
Two lonely women
With nothing much to do
But get to know each other;
She did and I did, too.
Mornings at the rectory
Learning how to roll
Bandages, and always
Saving light and coal.
Oh, that house was bitter
As winter closed in,
In spite of heavy stockings
And woollen next the skin.
I was cold and wretched,
And never unaware
Of John more cold and wretched
In a trench out there.
All that long winter I wanted so much to complain,
But my mother-in-Iaw, as far as I could see,
Felt no such impulse, though she was always in pain,
An, as the winter fogs grew thick,
Took to walking with a stick,
Those bubble-like eyes grew black
Whenever she rose from a chair—
Rose and fell back,
Unable to bear
The sure agonizing
Torture of rising.
Her hands, those competent bony hands,
Grew gnarled and old,
But never ceased to obey the commands
Of her will— only finding new hold
Of bandage and needle and pen.
And not for the blinking
Of an eye did she ever stop thinking
Of the suffering of Englishmen
And her two sons in the trenches. Now and then
I could forget for an instant in a book or a letter,
But she never, never forgot— either one—
Percy and John—though I knew she loved one better—
Percy, the wastrel, the gambler, the eldest son.
I think I shall always remember
Until I die
Her face that day in December,
When in a hospital ward together, she and I
Were writing letters for wounded men and dying,
Writing and crying
Over their words, so silly and simple and loving,
Suddenly, looking up, I saw the old Vicar moving
Like fate down the hospital ward, until
He stood still
Beside her, where she sat at a bed.
'Dear friend, come home. I have tragic news,' he said
She looked straight at him without a spasm of fear,
Her face not stern or masked—
'Is it Percy or John?' she asked.
'Percy.' She dropped her eyes. 'I am needed here.
Surely you know
I cannot go
Until every letter is written. The dead
Must wait on the living,' she said.
'This is my work. I must stay.'
And she did— the whole long day.
Out of the dark, and dearth
Of happiness on earth,
Out of a world inured to death and pain;
On a fair spring mom
To me a son was born,
And hope was born-the future lived again.
To me a son was born,
The lonely hard forlorn
Travail was, as the Bible tells, forgot.
How old, how commonplace
To look upon the face
Of your first-born, and glory in your lot.
To look upon his face
And understand your place
Among the unknown dead in churchyards lying,
To see the reason why
You lived and why you die—
Even to find a certain grace in dying.
To know the reason why
Buds blow and blossoms die,
Why beauty fades, and genius is undone,
And how unjustified
Is any human pride
In all creation— save in this common one.
Maternity is common, but not so
It seemed to me. Motherless, I did not know—
I was all unprepared to feel this glow,
Holy as a Madonna's, and as crude
As any animal's beatitude—
Crude as my own black cat's, who used to bring
Her newest litter to me every spring,
And say, with green eyes shining in the sun:
'Behold this miracle that I have done.'
And John came home on leave, and all was joy
And thankfulness to me, because my boy
Was not a baby only, but the heir—
Heir to the Devon acres and a name
As old as England. Somehow I became
Almost an English woman, almost at one
With all they ever did— all they had done.
'I want him called John after you, or if not that I'd rather—'
'But the eldest son is always called Percy, dear.'
'I don't ask to call him Hiram, after my father—'
'But the eldest son is always called Percy, dear.'
'But I hate the name Percy. I like Richard or Ronald,
Or Peter like your brother, or Ian or Noel or Donald—'
'But the eldest is always called Percy, dear.'
So the Vicar christened him Percy; and Lady Jean
Gave to the child and me the empty place
In hr heart. Poor Lady, it was as if she had seen
The world destroyed— the extinction of her race,
Her country, her class, her name— and now she saw
Them live again. And I would hear her say:
'No. I admire Americans; my daughter-in-law
Was an American.' Thus she would well repay
The debt, and I was grateful— the English made
Life hard for those who did not come to her aid.
'They must come in in the spring.'
'Don't they care sixpence who's right?'
'What a ridiculous thing—
Saying they're too proud to fight.'
'Saying they're too proud to fight.'
'Wilson's pro-German, I'm told.'
'No, it's financial.' 'Oh, quite,
All that they care for is gold.'
'All that they care for is gold.'
'Seem to like writing a note.'
'Yes, as a penman, he's bold.'
'No. It's the Irish vote.'
'Oh, it's the Irish vote.'
'What if the Germans some night
Sink an American boat?'
'Darling, they're too proud to fight.'
What could I do, but ache and long
That my country, peaceful, rich, and strong,
Should come and do battle for England's sake.
What could I do, but long and ache.
And my father's letters I hid away
Lest some one should know the things he'd say.
'You ask me whether we're coming in—
We are. The English are clever as sin,
Silently, subtly they inspire
Most of youth with a holy fire
To shed their blood for the British Empire
We'll come in— we'll fight and die
Humbly to help them, and by and by,
England will do us in the eye.
They'll get colonies, gold and fame,
And we'll get nothing at all but blame.
Blame for not having come before,
Blame for not having sent them more
Money and men and war supplies,
Blame if we venture to criticise.
We're so damn simple— our skins so thin
We'll get nothing whatever, but we'll come in.'
And at last—at last—like the dawn of a calm, fair day
After a night of terror and storm, they came—
My young light-hearted countrymen, tall and gay,
Looking the world over in search of fun and fame,
Marching through London to the beat of a boastful air,
Seeing for the first time Piccadilly and Leicester Square,
All the bands playing: 'Over There, Over There,
Send the word, send the word to beware—'
And as the American flag went fluttering by
Englishmen uncovered, and I began to cry.
'We're here to end it, by jingo.'
'We'll lick the Heinies okay.'
'I can't get on to the lingo.'
'Dumb-they don't get what we say.'
'Call that stuff coffee? You oughter
Know better. Gee, take it away.'
'Oh, for a drink of ice water! '
'They think nut-sundae's a day.'
'Say, is this chicken feed money?'
'Say, does it rain every day?'
'Say, Lady, isn't it funny
Every one drives the wrong way?'
How beautiful upon the mountains,
How beautiful upon the downs,
How beautiful in the village post-office,
On the pavements of towns—
How beautiful in the huge print of newspapers,
Beautiful while telegraph wires hum,
While telephone bells wildly jingle,
The news that peace has come—
That peace has come at last—that all wars cease.
How beautiful upon the mountains are the footsteps
Of the messengers of peace!
In the depth of the night betwixt midnight and morning,
In the darkness and silence forerunning the dawn,
The throb of my heart was a drum-beat of warning,
My ears were a-strain and my breath was undrawn.
In the depth of the night, when the old house was sleeping,
I lying alone in a desolate bed,
Heard soft on the staircase a slow footstep creeping—
The ear of the living—the step of the dead.
In the depth of the night betwixt midnight and morning
A step drawing near on the old oaken floor—
On the stair— in the gallery— the ghost that gives warning
Of death, by that heartbreaking sigh at my door.
Bad news is not broken,
By kind tactful word;
The message is spoken
Ere the word can be heard.
The eye and the bearing,
The breath make it clear,
And the heart is despairing
Before the ears hear.
I do not remember
The words that they said:
I knew John was dead.
All done and over—
That day long ago—
The while cliffs of Dover—
Little did I know.
As I grow older, looking back, I see
Not those the longest planted in the heart
Are the most missed. Some unions seem to be
Too close for even death to tear apart.
Those who have lived together many years,
And deeply learnt to read each other's mind,
Vanities, tempers, virtues, hopes, and fears—
One cannot go—nor is one left behind.
Alas, with John and me this was not so;
I was defrauded even of the past.
Our days had been so pitifully few,
Fight as I would, I found the dead go fast.
I had lost all—had lost not love alone,
But the bright knowledge it had been my own.
Oh, sad people, buy not your past too dearly,
Live not in dreams of the past, for understand,
If you remember too much, too long, too clearly,
If you grasp memory with too heavy a hand,
You will destroy memory in all its glory
For the sake of the dreams of your head upon your bed.
You will be left with only the worn dead story
You told yourself of the dead.
Nanny brought up my son, as his father before him,
Austere on questions of habits, manners, and food.
Nobly yielding a mother's right to adore him,
Thinking that mothers never did sons much good.
A Scot from Lady Jean's own native passes,
With a head as smooth and round as a silver bowl,
A crooked nose, and eyes behind her glasses
Grey and bright and wise—a great soul !
Ready to lay down her life for her charge, and ready
To administer discipline without consulting me:
'Is that the way for you to answer my leddy?
I think you'll get no sweet tonight to your tea.'
Bringing him up better than I could do it,
Teaching him to be civil and manly and cool
In the face of danger. And then before I knew it
The time came for him to go off to school.
Off to school to be free of women's teaching,
Into a world of men— at seven years old;
Into a world where a mother's hands vainly reaching
Will never again caress and comfort and hold.
My father came over now and then
To look at the boy and talk to me,
Never staying long,
For the urge was strong
To get back to his yawl and the summer sea.
He came like a nomad passing by,
Hands in his pockets, hat over one eye,
Teasing every one great and small
With a blank straight face and a Yankee drawl;
Teasing the Vicar on Apostolic Succession
And what the Thirty-Nine Articles really meant to convey,
Teasing Nanny, though he did not
Make much impression
On that imperturbable Scot.
Teasing our local grandee, a noble peer,
Who firmly believed the Ten Lost Tribes
Of Israel had settled here—
A theory my father had at his fingers' ends—
Only one person was always safe from his jibes—
My mother-in-law, for they were really friends.
Oh, to come home to your country
After long years away,
To see the tall shining towers
Rise over the rim of the bay,
To feel the west wind steadily blowing
And the sunshine golden and hot,
To speak to each man as an equal,
Whether he is or not.
Was this America—this my home?
Prohibition and Teapot Dome—
Speakeasies, night-clubs, illicit stills,
Dark faces peering behind dark grills,
Hold-ups, kidnappings, hootch or booze—
Every one gambling—you just can't lose,
Was this my country? Even the bay
At home was altered, strange ships lay
At anchor, deserted day after day,
Old yachts in a rusty dim decay—
Like ladies going the primrose way—
At anchor, until when the moon was black,
They sailed, and often never came back.
Even my father's Puritan drawl
Told me shyly he'd sold his yawl
For a fabulous price to the constable's son—
My childhood's playmate, thought to be one
Of a criminal gang, rum-runners all,
Such clever fellows with so much money—
Even the constable found it funny,
Until one morning his son was found,
Floating dead in Long Island Sound.
Was this my country? It seemed like heaven
To get back, dull and secure, to Devon,
Loyally hiding from Lady Jean
And my English friends the horrors I'd seen.
That year she died, my nearest, dearest friend;
Lady Jean died, heroic to the end.
The family stood about her grave, but none
Mourned her as I did. After, one by one,
They slipped away—Peter and Bill—my son
Went back to school. I hardly was aware
Of Percy's lovely widow, sitting there
In the old room, in Lady Jean's own chair.
An English beauty glacially fair
Was Percy's widow Rosamund, her hair
Was silver gilt, and smooth as silk, and fine,
Her eyes, sea-green, slanted away from mine,
From any one's, as if to meet the gaze
Of others was too intimate a phase
For one as cool and beautiful as she.
We were not friends or foes. She seemed to be
Always a little irked— fretted to find
That other women lived among mankind.
Now for the first time after years of meeting,
Never exchanging more than formal greeting,
She spoke to me— that sharp determined way
People will speak when they have things to say.
ROSAMUND: Susan, go home with your offspring. Fly.
Live in America. SUSAN: Rosamund, why?
ROSAMUND: Why, my dear girl, haven't you seen
What English country life can mean
With too small an income to keep the place
Going? Already I think I trace
A change in you, you no longer care
So much how you look or what you wear.
That coat and skirt you have on, you know
You wouldn't have worn them ten years ago.
Those thick warm stockings— they make me sad,
Your ankles were ankles to drive men mad.
Look at your hair— you need a wave.
Get out— go home— be hard— be brave,
Or else, believe me, you'll be a slave.
There's something in you— dutiful— meek—
You'll be saving your pin-money every week
To mend the roof. Well, let it leak.
Why should you care? SUSAN: But I do care,
John loved this place and my boy's the heir.
ROSAMUND: The heir to what? To a tiresome life
Drinking tea with the vicar's wife,
Opening bazaars, and taking the chair
At meetings for causes that you don't care
Sixpence about and never will;
Breaking your heart over every bill.
I've been in the States, where everyone,
Even the poor, have a little fun.
Don't condemn your son to be
A penniless country squire. He
Would be happier driving a tram over there
Than mouldering his life away as heir.
SUSAN: Rosamund dear, this may all be true.
I'm an American through and through.
I don't see things as the English do,
But it's clearly my duty, it seems to me,
To bring up John's son, like him, to be
A country squire—poor alas,
But true to that English upper class
That does not change and does not pass.
ROSAMUND: Nonsense; it's come to an absolute stop.
Twenty years since we sat on top
Of the world, amusing ourselves and sneering
At other manners and customs, jeering
At other nations, living in clover—
Not any more. That's done and over.
No one nowadays cares a button
For the upper classes— they're dead as mutton.
Go home. SUSAN: I notice that you don't go.
ROSAMUND: My dear, that shows how little you know.
I'm escaping the fate of my peers,
Marrying one of the profiteers,
Who hasn't an 'aitch' where an 'aitch' should be,
But millions and millions to spend on me.
Not much fun— but there wasn't any
Other way out. I haven't a penny.
But with you it's different. You can go away,
And oh, what a fool you'd be to stay.
Rabbits in the park,
Scuttling as we pass,
Little white tails
Against the green grass.
'Next time, Mother,
I must really bring a gun,
I know you don't like shooting,
But—!' John's own son,
That blond bowed face,
Those clear steady eyes,
Hard to be certain
That the dead don't rise.
Jogging on his pony
Through the autumn day,
'Bad year for fruit, Mother,
But good salt hay.'
Bowling for the village
As his father had before;
Coming home at evening
To read the cricket score,
Back to the old house
Where all his race belong,
Tired and contented—
Rosamund was wrong.
If some immortal strangers walked our land
And heard of death, how could they understand
That we—doomed creatures—draw our meted breath
Light-heartedly—all unconcerned with death.
So in these years between the wars did men
From happier continents look on us when
They brought us sympathy, and saw us stand
Like the proverbial ostrich-head in sand—
While youth passed resolutions not to fight,
And statesmen muttered everything was right—
Germany, a kindly, much ill-treated nation—
Russia was working out her own salvation
Within her borders. As for Spain, ah, Spain
Would buy from England when peace came again!
I listened and believed— believed through sheer
Terror. I could not look whither my fear
Pointed— that agony that I had known.
I closed my eyes, and was not alone.
Later than many, earlier than some,
I knew the die was cast— that war must come;
That war must come. Night after night I lay
Steeling a broken heart to face the day
When he, my son— would tread the very same
Path that his father trod. When the day came
I was not steeled— not ready. Foolish, wild
Words issued from my lips— 'My child, my child,
Why should you die for England too?' He smiled:
'Is she not worth it, if I must?' he said.
John would have answered yes— but John was dead.
Is she worth dying for? My love, my one
And only love had died, and now his son
Asks me, his alien mother, to assay
The worth of England to mankind today—
This other Eden, demi-paradise,
This fortress built by Nature for herself
Against infection and the hand of war;
This happy breed of men, this little world,
This precious stone set in the silver sea—
Ah, no, not that—not Shakespeare—I must be
A sterner critic. I must weigh the ill
Against the good, must strike the balance, till
I know the answer— true for me alone—
What is she worth— this country— not my own?
I thought of my father's deep traditional wrath
Against England— the redcoat bully— the ancient foe—
That second reaping of hate, that aftermath
Of a ruler's folly and ignorance long ago—
Long, long ago— yet who can honestly say
England is utterly changed— not I— not I.
Arrogance, ignorance, folly are here today,
And for these my son must die?
I thought of these years, these last dark terrible years
When the leaders of England bade the English believe
Lies at the price of peace, lies and fears,
Lies that corrupt, and fears that sap and deceive.
I though of the bars dividing man from man,
Invisible bars that the humble may not pass,
And how no pride is uglier, crueller than
The pride unchecked of class.
Oh, those invisible bars of manners and speech,
Ways that the proud man will not teach
The humble lest they too reach
Those splendid heights where a little band
Have always stood and will always stand
Ruling the fate of this small green land,
Rulers of England—for them must I
Send out my only son to die?
And then, and then,
I thought of Elizabeth stepping down
Over the stones of Plymouth town
To welcome her sailors, common men,
She herself, as she used to say,
Being' mere English' as much as they—
Seafaring men who sailed away
From rocky inlet and wooded bay,
Free men, undisciplined, uncontrolled,
Some of them pirates and all of them bold,
Feeling their fate was England's fate,
Coming to save it a little late,
Much too late for the easy way,
Much too late, and yet never quite
Too late to win in that last worst fight.
And I thought of Hampden and men like him,
St John and Eliot, Cromwell and Pym,
Standing firm through the dreadful years,
When the chasm was opening, widening,
Between the Commons and the King;
I thought of the Commons in tears— in tears,
When Black Rod knocked at Parliament's door,
And they saw Rebellion straight before—
Weeping, and yet as hard as stone,
Knowing what the English have always known
Since then— and perhaps have known alone—
Something that none can teach or tell—
The moment when God's voice says; 'Rebel.'
Not to rise up in sudden gust
Of passion— not, though the cause be just;
Not to submit so long that hate,
Lava torrents break out and spill
Over the land in a fiery spate;
Not to submit for ever, until
The will of the country is one man's will,
And every soul in the whole land shrinks
From thinking—except as his neighbour thinks.
Men who have governed England know
That dreadful line that they may not pass
And live. Elizabeth long ago
Honoured and loved, and bold as brass,
Daring and subtle, arrogant, clever,
English, too, to her stiff backbone,
Somewhat a bully, like her own
Father— yet even Elizabeth never
Dared to oppose the sullen might
Of the English, standing upon a right.
And were they not English, our forefathers, never more
English than when they shook the dust of her sod
From their feet for ever, angrily seeking a shore
Where in his own way a man might worship his God.
Never more English than when they dared to be
Rebels against her-that stern intractable sense
Of that which no man can stomach and still be free,
Writing: 'When in the course of human events. . .'
Writing it out so all the world could see
Whence come the powers of all just governments.
The tree of Liberty grew and changed and spread,
But the seed was English.
I am American bred,
I have seen much to hate here— much to forgive,
But in a world where England is finished and dead,
I do not wish to live.
The United Conference of Hemispheres
The United States?
That's what we're called now! '
The United Federation of Americas?
Now that does have a ring.
With Canada, Mexico...
And the current United States.
I like the sound of it! '
The United Western Hemisphere?
We'll have a meeting this weekend,
To discuss it!
But we must go slowly with this.
The people are already going nuts over the economy!
But I do love this idea.
We'll have the United Northern Hemisphere.
The United Eastern Hemisphere.
And the United Southern Hemisphere.
Whenever we come to meet...
We'll call ourselves,
The United Conference of Hemispheres!
Pass that by President Obama.
See if he approves before the announcement is made!
We must consolidate all nations as soon as possible.'
(Political Poem) A Declining Empire
Tent cities, and refugee camps.
Can you imagine that in the united states.
We are falling apart.
Where are you gonna put all these people
That you can no longer afford.
If you want to make those vicious of cuts you better start making solutions for them as well.
If you can't decide whom shall preside.
Then you are committing suicide.
An agreement of terms is needed for any thriving democracy.
We are decaying and giving up on ourselves.
A declining empire.
I wanted to sit and write today-but I did not know what to say.
Then a thought came to me. Why don’t I write about hypocrisy?
The hypocrisy of man leaves you to wonder.
Will this country make another blunder?
Will we continue in this Arab war where we are despised/
Will we choose to live a lie?
They say Americans shed their blood for you and me.
We all know its hypocrisy.
Men in uniform no longer fight the world wars.
People who want to hide what they are Moreover, what they say and do is because of me and you. Our service members and women still use our uniforms with pride
It is something that we can’t deny.
I could see it in my mind-the older politician telling the younger one.
“Let the road take its course” we are the trainers and they are the horse.
They will go where we lead them-that is why we are leaders.
The politicians of all nations should hide their heads in shame.
They search for all that they can gain.
They all try to line their pockets
They’ll pull your eyeballs from their sockets.
Then you cannot see all their hidden hypocrisies.
People will believe for a short period
While it weighs on their mind.
They have to tell the politicians that they will not follow
Like sheep to a slaughter so they could make a quarter.
We must tell them that we are tired as can be-living in hypocrisy.
I pledge allegiance to national flag
Let there be any attempt to tarnish the image or drag
It shall remain super most in my mind
I am not novice so not to understand and go blind
How many people have shed their blood for motherland?
How many might have perished in foreign land
For upholding the national pride and honor
What might have they expected in return for?
I am for sure many might have perished unsung?
No national anthem might have been aired or sung
Yet we owe our head in their honor for brave front
This is what all citizens expect from soldiers or want
Today we are free country with all liberal thoughts
On national front we have undergone sufferings when fought
No one wanted any material benefit but only free air
Have we given them what they wanted as fair share?
Motherland is compared to a beautiful and sacred lady
Love and respect shown for all the time from everybody
No one can think of harming national interest?
It is expected and desired even more as best
We have forgotten our past
We have lost the trust
Our head bows down in shame
Where to go and whom to blame?
The beautiful lady, motherland we call, is torn apart
She has been taken off cloths and divided in parts
Who can claim they have national interest at heart?
Can any one think of making again a noble start?
No, nothing will be done
Past golden days are for memory to remain
Flowers will laid as mark of respect once in year
Everybody is afraid and gripped of fear
We are killing our own brethrens
Poor are dying everyday without much concern
This is welfare state we enshrined?
Was that the show for later on to be fined?
We have created position to corner the wealth
Compromised with nature and helped to deteriorate health
It is world boxing match to attract more people
To pay for the show and invite more trouble
I'm afraid that the United States is more isolated today than at any other time in my memory.
Certain people in the United States are driving nails into this structure of our relationship, then cutting off the heads. So the Soviets must use their teeth to pull them out.
Far less wealthy industrialized countries have committed to end child poverty, while the United States is sliding backwards. We can do better. We must demand that our leaders do better.
With respect to the northeastern boundary of the United States, no official correspondence between this Government and that of Great Britain has passed since that communicated to Congress toward the close of their last session.
If we are to meet the growing electricity demand in the United States without significantly increasing emissions of greenhouse gases, we must maintain a diverse supply of electricity, and nuclear power must be part of that mix.
Written by: vanilla ice & tha hit men
Produced by: vanilla ice & tha hit men
Published by: ice baby music, inc.,
Oliver and cooley music publishing., bmi
Background vocals (rap) by: vanilla ice
Mix by: vanilla ice and zero
Synchclavier engineer: rober wechsler
Recorded & mixed at luminous sound studios, inc.
Get on down to the sound and a good rhyme.
With a song that should climb
Yo straight to the top with a bullet on the charts again
Another #1 hit to deal with
I gotta fist full of junkies of hip hop suckas
That get in the way have to get dropped.
Forget pop goes the weasel cuz I ran over them punks
Like a mac truck diesel.
An Im playin all the ladies
And I know not a sucker can fade me.
So watch me get buck wild
Yo and just pump the crowd and everybody say.
Aint no party like an ice man party
Now gettin back to the track with the bass - uh!
Watch it unfold in your face
I waste no time makin your body move
Makin this party groove. yo.
This is somethin real funky to dance to
Bringin ya more raps to keep the dance floor packed
So get off the bozak.
An like cool j said dont call it a come back.
One track made a killin
An my first lp went way over 11 million
So dont front cuz I know you were an ice fan.
So get down with the ice man
Everybody thought that the ice was gonna fade out.
But you was wrong cuz I never get played out.
An thats stright up reality
I wanna say whats up to my homies in miami
An to dallas all across the united states.
An everybody who bought vanilla ice tapes.
An everybody overseas, my man -
All of europe, australia and japan.
No matter where you reside, Im in evere record store
Cuz the ice is like world wide
Come on and catch the vibe
Cuz the skys the limit
An Ill never quit makin hits
So get on down with the progrm
Folks its 92 an Im back and its no joke -
So you know the ice wont steer you wrong.
Now everbody just sing along.
The masses don't shed their blood for the benefit of a few individuals.
Even epics mention
Even epics mention of great evil forces and vultures
Both hungry of human blood and destructive forces
Will never allow peace to descend and spread the harmony
What more can be expected out of immense poverty and agony?
We thought time may change with advent of good fortune
The world may move keeping in pace with time and tune
No innocents will be killed and no reprieve for perpetrators
Definite punishment for murderers and warning to collaborators
Can any none claim earth belongs to their ancestors?
Will any one align and proudly say they were invaders?
Is there no humanity left to claim entire globe as personal domain?
What is left across the table to advocate for the peace to remain?
We have become refugees in our own home homeland
The good neighbors have turned hostile foes from friends
Millions of people have shed their blood for next generation
Still it demands more of such actions to come out of desperations
The religion fervor has been taken over by fanatics
Everything has failed including faith and statistics
The people are shot at while offering prayers
There is no one left as peace loving persons or sooth Sayers
What a pity to feel on us when we welcomed the dragons?
We provided them lethal weapons including guns
It was for driving the occupants and to restore the order
The purpose is defeated and now we are occupant and hoarders
It has defeated the medical science
To kill one viral germ we created another germ’s presence
We never knew it may prove deadly even as predecessor
There may be millions blood hungry as successors
No one knows when the land will be cleared of such elements
What type of steps may be effective for counter movements?
We are loosing precious human lives as for counter measures
Still no one is in position to reply and doubly reassure
It is suicidal war and worst than the guerilla warfare
The guerillas could be traced and countered
The suicidal tendency waves can not stopped
They will play havoc and grenades will be lobbed
You can kill insects and bacteria
You can even effectively eradicate malaria
The deadly cancer disease and aids to are brought under control
The terrorism is new deadliest weapon to invite complete fall
It is our own folly to have given birth to terrorists
We knew well there were enough of risks
No one is likely to draw any gain or benefit
The holocaust and misery can not be printed on sheets
The Harp That Once Through Tara's Halls
The harp that once through Tara's halls
The soul of music shed,
Now hangs as mute on Tara's walls,
As if that soul were fled. --
So sleeps the pride of former days,
So glory's thrill is o'er,
And hearts, that once beat high for praise,
Now feel that pulse no more.
No more to chiefs and ladies bright
The harp of Tara swells;
The chord alone, that breaks at night,
Its tale of ruin tells.
Thus Freedom now so seldom wakes,
The only throb she gives,
Is when some heart indignant breaks,
To show that still she lives.
To the United States of America
Brothers in blood! They who this wrong began
To wreck our commonwealth, will rue the day
When first they challenged freeman to the fray,
And with the Briton dared the American.
Now are we pledged to win the Rights of man:
Labour and Justice now shall have their way,
And in a League of Peace -- God grant we may --
Transform the earth, not patch up the old plan.
Sure is our hope since he who led your nation
Spake for mankind, and ye arose in awe
Of that high call to work the world's salvation;
Clearing your minds of all estrangling blindness
In the vision of Beauty and the Spirit's law,
Freedom and Honour and sweet Lovingkindness.
Meditations: Dario Fo's discovery that God is the Supreme Head of the Italian State Railway
God, once had a mustache, double breasted jacket
Wollen turtleneck and held me on skis in Abruzzi
God, once was a second grade teacher, signorina Puccessi, teaching
Petrach, Virgil, Ovid, Boccacio, Dante, Grazia Deleddo, , to mules
God, once was whoever had 10,000 lire, the bomba,
dared to show it, to spend the whole amount on drinks
God, once was the captain of an ocean liner, Vesuvius
Crossing the atlantic to ellis island, with one push from Naples
God, once played centerfield in pinstripes, wore number 7
drank a lot, hit home runs, won world series, a good friend
God, once was a girl's eyes, her mouth, her right breast,
then her left and sometimes the void between her legs
God, once was the head of the New York Stock Exchange
and quit over a salary dispute, to save money on taxes
God, once wore silver and black, became very popular,
other than in K.C., throwing long bombs to Cliff Branch
God, once was the creator of all things, except Darwinism,
Communism, all isms etc, but now rarely makes even a miracle
God, once fell terribly in love, lost, banished everyone to hell
became stone deaf to all pleas, while watching tv in heaven
God, once went back to Italy, became a sanitation worker
called a strike, filled Rome with garbage, till money was paid
God, once dressed as a woman, liked it so much,
he became a she and took a walk on the wild side
God, once wore a red fedora, played Stanley on broadway
and went around shaking up molecules with black jazzmen
God, once went back to New York City, shot all the petty thieves,
wannabees and junkies and gave the credit to the politicians
God, once punished his angels, making them sioux, aztecs,
blackfeet, incas, slaves, jews and had europeans murder them
God, once loved the world so much he gave it his only begotten son,
who became president of the united states, for eight years
God, doesn't ski now
God, doesn't play baseball or football, either
God is retired in Maine,
God sleeps on the couch
God could use a shave
God goes to the refrigerator to get a beer
God lies on the floor and watches tv
God could use a bath
God has an answer for every question
God has no books, no music, no dvds
God, does still go around shaking up molecules
Tho` wearing glasses now
The Santa-Fe Trail (A Humoresque)
I asked the old Negro, "What is that bird that sings so well?" He answered: "That is the Rachel-Jane." "Hasn't it another name, lark, or thrush, or the like?" "No. Jus' Rachel-Jane."
I. IN WHICH A RACING AUTO COMES FROM THE EAST
This is the order of the music of the morning: —
First, from the far East comes but a crooning.
The crooning turns to a sunrise singing.
Hark to the calm -horn, balm -horn, psalm -horn.
Hark to the faint -horn, quaint -horn, saint -horn. . . .
Hark to the pace -horn, chase -horn, race -horn.
And the holy veil of the dawn has gone.
Swiftly the brazen ear comes on.
It burns in the East as the sunrise burns.
I see great flashes where the far trail turns.
Its eyes are lamps like the eyes of dragons.
It drinks gasoline from big red flagons.
Butting through the delicate mists of the morning,
It comes like lightning, goes past roaring.
It will hail all the wind-mills, taunting, ringing,
Dodge the cyclones,
Count the milestones,
On through the ranges the prairie-dog tills—
Scooting past the cattle on the thousand hills. . . .
Ho for the tear-horn, scare-horn, dare-horn,
Ho for the gay -horn, bark -horn, bay -horn.
Ho for Kansas, land that restores us
When houses choke us, and great books bore us!
Sunrise Kansas, harvester's Kansas,
A million men have found you before us.
II. IN WHICH MANY AUTOS PASS WESTWARD
I want live things in their pride to remain.
I will not kill one grasshopper vain
Though he eats a hole in my shirt like a door.
I let him out, give him one chance more.
Perhaps, while he gnaws my hat in his whim,
Grasshopper lyrics occur to him.
I am a tramp by the long trail's border,
Given to squalor, rags and disorder.
I nap and amble and yawn and look,
Write fool-thoughts in my grubby book,
Recite to the children, explore at my ease,
Work when I work, beg when I please,
Give crank-drawings, that make folks stare
To the half-grown boys in the sunset glare,
And get me a place to sleep in the hay
At the end of a live-and-let-live day.
I find in the stubble of the new-cut weeds
A whisper and a feasting, all one needs:
The whisper of the strawberries, white and red
Here where the new-cut weeds lie dead.
But I would not walk all alone till I die
Without some life-drunk horns going by.
Up round this apple-earth they come
Blasting the whispers of the morning dumb:—
Cars in a plain realistic row.
And fair dreams fade
When the raw horns blow.
On each snapping pennant
A big black name:—
The careering city
Whence each car came.
They tour from Memphis, Atlanta, Savannah,
Tallahassee and Texarkana.
They tour from St. Louis, Columbus, Manistee,
They tour from Peoria, Davenport, Kankakee.
Cars from Concord, Niagara, Boston,
Cars from Topeka, Emporia, and Austin.
Cars from Chicago, Hannibal, Cairo.
Cars from Alton, Oswego, Toledo.
Cars from Buffalo, Kokomo, Delphi,
Cars from Lodi, Carmi, Loami.
Ho for Kansas, land that restores us
When houses choke us, and great books bore us!
While I watch the highroad
And look at the sky,
While I watch the clouds in amazing grandeur
Roll their legions without rain
Over the blistering Kansas plain—
While I sit by the milestone
And watch the sky,
The United States
Listen to the iron-horns, ripping, racking.
Listen to the quack-horns, slack and clacking.
Way down the road, trilling like a toad,
Here comes the dice -horn, here comes the vice -horn,
Here comes the snarl -horn, brawl -horn, lewd -horn,
Followed by the prude -horn, bleak and squeaking: —
(Some of them from Kansas, some of themn from Kansas.)
Here comes the hod -horn, plod -horn, sod -horn,
Nevermore-to-roam -horn, loam -horn, home -horn.
(Some of them from Kansas, some of them from Kansas.)
Far away the Rachel-Jane
Not defeated by the horns
Sings amid a hedge of thorns:—
"Love and life,
Sweet, sweet, sweet, sweet,
Dew and glory,
Love and truth,
Sweet, sweet, sweet, sweet."
WHILE SMOKE-BLACK FREIGHTS ON THE DOUBLE-TRACKED RAILROAD,
DRIVEN AS THOUGH BY THE FOUL-FIEND'S OX-GOAD,
SCREAMING TO THE WEST COAST, SCREAMING TO THE EAST,
CARRY OFF A HARVEST, BRING BACK A FEAST,
HARVESTING MACHINERY AND HARNESS FOR THE BEAST.
THE HAND-CARS WHIZ, AND RATTLE ON THE RAILS,
THE SUNLIGHT FLASHES ON THE TIN DINNER-PAILS.
And then, in an instant,
Ye modern men,
Behold the procession once again,
Listen to the iron-horns, ripping, racking,
Listen to the wise -horn, desperate-to-advise horn,
Listen to the fast -horn, kill -horn, blast -horn. . . .
Far away the Rachel-Jane
Not defeated by the horns
Sings amid a hedge of thorns:—
Love and life,
Sweet, sweet, sweet, sweet,
Dew and glory,
Love and truth.
Sweet, sweet, sweet, sweet.
The mufflers open on a score of cars
With wonderful thunder,
CRACK, CRACK, CRACK,
CRACK-CRACK-CRACK, . . .
Listen to the gold-horn . . .
Old-horn . . .
Cold-horn . . .
And all of the tunes, till the night comes down
On hay-stack, and ant-hill, and wind-bitten town.
Then far in the west, as in the beginning,
Dim in the distance, sweet in retreating,
Hark to the faint-horn, quaint-horn, saint-horn,
Hark to the calm-horn, balm-horn, psalm-horn. . . .
They are hunting the goals that they understand:—
San-Francisco and the brown sea-sand.
My goal is the mystery the beggars win.
I am caught in the web the night-winds spin.
The edge of the wheat-ridge speaks to me.
I talk with the leaves of the mulberry tree.
And now I hear, as I sit all alone
In the dusk, by another big Santa-Fe stone,
The souls of the tall corn gathering round
And the gay little souls of the grass in the ground.
Listen to the tale the cotton-wood tells.
Listen to the wind-mills, singing o'er the wells.
Listen to the whistling flutes without price
Of myriad prophets out of paradise.
Harken to the wonder
That the night-air carries. . . .
Listen . . . to . . . the . . . whisper . . .
Of . . . the . . . prairie . . . fairies
Singing o'er the fairy plain:—
"Sweet, sweet, sweet, sweet.
Love and glory,
Stars and rain,
Sweet, sweet, sweet, sweet . . . . "
- quotes about harvest
- quotes about drawing
- quotes about screams
- quotes about saint
- quotes about books
- quotes about Christopher Columbus
- quotes about wind
- quotes about dogs
- quotes about Boston
At The Bar-Code Ranch
A stellar job in the bullpen
I lie in a converted garage, sun coming up
and the chuck-chuck of unfamiliar birds
from Lake Mizell.
The lamp grows ineffectual
under a skylight; the great world
washes in, humid, composed of small numbered parts.
Sometime after nine, the classical music station stops
for the landing of a space shuttle
a sonic boom
shakes the bungalow
and Vladomir Horowitz
is abruptly terminated.
Yesterday, at New Smyrna, north of Canaveral:
looking out from a timbered interior
on the Atlantic;
driving inland on Local 40,
a two-lane, the Beach Boys on air,
to Winter Park, inches above the water table.
Today, flying north, from Florida’s eighty degrees
to Washington’s forty-something
a river far below
in South Carolina.
Salt-pork and black-eyed beans
“soul food” – and cheap – in D.C’s low
where U.S. presidents
fall like leaves . . .
Consume and Die!
under the pines
looking out over the waters of Potomac
a torn Bush-Quayle poster in the grass
the morning after the election,
and down on Canal St
a bag of crushed Busch beer cans
reminds me that poetry exists.
Up at 3040 R St N.W.
where the leaf vacuum cleaners roam,
three cards from New York!
The sun descends
through Mt Pinatubo clouds,
its weird rays on Georgetown,
glass to the south,
Arlington’s tower blocks
Confederate and Republican (still).
Meanwhile there is art to look at (Hirschorn Museum):
the hand, thrust forward,
of Ernst Barlach’s
streamlined (and sentimental)
in which someone has placed a dime
– all it takes
to stitch up expressionism.
I liked better
the pieces by Balla
and the nice little things
by Henri Laurens
A postcard from Sarah
features a moose, lettered CANADA,
though it’s from Australia
and the New York letters
(a room to stay in in Brooklyn!
drinks with some people.
The world, its streets, places, people
from Edwin Denby?
No, that was
‘Dancers, Buildings, and People in the Street’.
Maybe it was Larry Eigner?
I’ve no way of checking.
The Dewars and Gordon’s Gin bottles
sitting on a shelf in this basement
are huge, flagons almost, so very American:
The World and its Drinks
(the comment August made
in England, up in the Peak District,
confronted with folk rituals:
a ritual enough.
Auden’s clock ticked towards martini time.
My friends in their various places
bear with me
stretched out in a bedroom
which a door, cunningly concealed, separates
from the condo laundromat.
Our yuppie neighbours upstairs
dropp dumbells – I think – on the floorboards.
In this suburb, they say,
the Clinton/Gore voters are basement dwellers
light off to the south
through the claret ash
brighter as we tilt
away from the sun and the leaves fall
– that line about the world and its streets,
was it William Bronk?
the catalogue of American poets
not yet on autoshred
though who’ll be laureate
in the new administration?
(Ed Dorn once suggested
Robert Bly for Hubert Humphrey
as if poetry
were a parody of presidential style
somebody has put together an anthology
of “poems for men” . . .
we did that long ago: it was called
‘Poems of Spirit and Action’
– John Forbes
had it at school, still prefers it
to the ones with close-ups of flower stamens
opposite poems by William Carlos Williams.
It was raining in the capital
and radio heartbreak was on,
“laugh or cry music”
as Terry McGrath
would have it.
I have ruined our landlord’s floor with oven cleaner
(photo: close-up: a container of oven cleaner)
Tonight I eat with the lawyers
on Capitol Hill
while the President packs his clothes.
Actually, the Respighi
is developing more into laughter mode,
its overblown pictorialism.
What’s this bit?
A conga chain of
ex-presidents in bathrobes
enter a steaming sauna
flanked by unsmiling CIA types.
Cut to close-up of incumbent
(played by Frankie Howerd).
T-shirted in this basement
I feel no need to go out. It’s 46 degrees.
But I do (go out)
across mean streets to the Law Center
and thence, a restaurant,
where a loud tool of the employers
down one end of the table
seems suddenly like a kid
arguing over a football.
Autumn so vivid
the stars and stripes washed out
against the yellow.
I cross Dumbarton Bridge
toward Dupont Circle,
Rock Creek Parkway below
only weeks from icing up,
black branches over the creek.
At Dupont, leave exposed film,
walk down Massachusetts and K
to the Greyhound terminal
and further, to Union Station
taking in the character some guy said
this city lacks.
K St past Thomas Circle grows funky,
urban wreckage round the bus terminal.
Subway to Farragut North, and on
up Connecticut to pick up photos
In the afternoon, sweep leaves
off the back porch (a screen door
The sky darkens,
branches, parts of buildings
picked out by light.
The photographs, taken months back
Manchester late summer,
Jonathan, Tom, Roy,
Joyce, Tony and Ric
(Hadrian’s Wall, its hill forts built to
gates opening onto nowhere;
moss on the rocks at Godrevy;
outcrops on the gritstone edge, Winster . . .
One summer displaced since
by the tail of another.
When things go wrong
the Ginsberg line (in Philip Whalen)
about “severance pay”
i.e. “there wasn’t much
severance pay in that”
seems to apply
in instalments, to life here
in this capital
where everything has its hidden cost
dry-cleaned and dismembered;
a pre-adolescent party:
10 year olds
with their own fax machines
and probably more than a notion of litigation.
At 4 a.m. there is peace to read
about the Wobbly strikes in Paterson N.J.
but later the yuppies stomp above our heads again
so that I feel like shouting
“stop drinking coffee”
Hal Roach is dead
– the man who put
Laurel and Hardy together, incredibly still alive
till just now.
He lived to see movies become boring.
And my father
dressed for Shakespeare, circa 1920,
on the cover of my first book;
the backdrop: dry grass,
weathered grey trunks up the hill;
an impossible country I try to picture segments of
lose them soon enough.
There is no plot
unlike Coronation Street
“better than real life and only
ninety minutes a week” (Jonathan Williams)
The morning cold and clear
after rumoured flurries.
I remember some 19th century painting
of Washington under snow (by Eastman Johnson?)
sentimental in ‘de ole plantation’ mode
– cold air that makes the head to hurt
though the sky is bright over Oak Hill Cemetery,
the beggars more assertive on the lips of escalators.
Fifty-one auto license plates spell out
the preamble to the constitution of the United States
at the Smithsonian,
and Frank O’Hara looks out
from a Larry Rivers painting, very present
here amid the art he loved
a memorial to him
by Grace Hartigan
“Grace to be born
and live as variously as possible . . .”
– words which could be attributed
to (the Rev.) Howard Finster
his fountains issuing from faucets,
a river of blood just that
though the source
may be a cut finger
and plenty more “just folks”
whom circumstance and vision worked through
so that they figured how art could be done
(as I write now on Rosemary’s sleeping shoulder
arranging a table to jot in haste though not to disturb)
– something happens
that you walk away from
as you walk away from your own history
my father: the cover of a book
my mother: a gold ring
for plot or rhetoric,
when decontextualized than as ‘psychology’
(the t.v. character last night
who went to analysis because
her mother and father hadn’t given her a hard time).
Anything can be fixed here (even poetry)
though nobody wants to do it anymore
(fix things that is, not write poetry,
everybody wants to do that).
We work our way (walk away) through breakfast cereals
(freedom of choice!)
and I like the ad
where a guy in surgical outfit
on an emergency ward set, says
“I’m not really a doctor, but . . .”
(days after the election
the new president appears in a soap opera
as a plot device.
I pour myself a gin,
listen to Earl Bostic – Coltrane’s mentor –
thinking I have patched the drafty cracks
so that Washington’s night will be kept out of this condo
and wondering how to duplicate
the American ‘r’ and ‘a’
so that cab drivers will get our address right
and my name will be spelled correctly
by petty officials.
Earl Bostic and Bill Doggett:
sounds that would ‘invoke’ (if I were Robert Duncan)
instead ‘remind’ me of Ken Bolton,
now probably waking up in Adelaide,
even this moment cleaning his teeth,
a thought balloon above his head
(‘thot balloon’ Duncan would say,
the figure of Ken rising through the poem
like the Corn God . . .
As in ‘One Night in Washington’,
the record where Charlie Parker
played the wrong tune over an unaccustomed backup
and they had to figure out what he was doing
– the pianist slightly haywire, feeling for tempo and key
as Parker doubles up, oblivious,
knowing where he’s going
so ‘The Poem’
any notion of what its Arnoldian simile
– just one manner of
jumpin in the Capital
(better than jogging in the capital
though less characteristic I guess –
and waves to its friends on another shore,
dancers, buildings and drinks in the street.
Down on Rock Creek’s tributary
a maze of branches, leaves, undergrowth;
advanced puzzle in which I make out
the figure of a young woman sketching,
and further, a man, stripped to the waist,
washing shirts in the rivulet.
Halfway up the slope to Safeways
a concrete divan, shaped for Mme Recamier;
the human figures, characters escaped from paintings
like the ones in the background of ‘Dejuner sur l’herbe’
which seem to occupy a different dimension
– even these rustic details of L’Enfant’s city
suggest French analogues
though up the hill
Washington Cathedral – twentieth century gothic
with elevators and climate control
suggests a big nothing
at least that
only a nation of fundamentalists and show-biz types
could put a gothic cathedral on a hill top.
I move about through these environs
grasping colour and light
as the capital slides into winter,
warm air chilling after three,
darkness by five
ham hocks over gas
a gold ring
the cover of a book
It’s time for drinks and music
‘Autumn in New York’ or
‘Moonlight in Vermont’?
– where Igor Stravinsky stayed,
only a block away,
gardens laid out
for pleasure, all seasons.
a leaf impasto underfoot for miles;
the grey tree trunks producing an effect of haze.
From The Palisades an old railroad bridge, boarded up,
cuts over Canal Street to the towpath,
pairs of mallards on the waterway.
A man (veteran?)
with bedroll and sixpack
asks if I’m a local.
Sorry, you’re 12,000 miles off.
Return from the drizzle to a call from Vermont
Take a message
or try to
– our landlord
collects pens that don’t work
and places them all in jars near the telephone.
(according to John Tranter it was Martin Johnston who said
‘If you want to communicate, use the telephone’,
but Martin probably got the line from John Forbes
– and he was quoting Frank O’Hara at the time.
I’m a spook on the bus through Shaw,
wreckage still from 1968,
gentility bordering the ghetto
with window boxes and fresh paint
up on Le Droit Park.
In Howard University’s
African collection, a small gold chameleon
illustrates the limits of personal power,
‘changing its colour to suit what it sees,
not what is hidden in the box’;
an Akan ceremonial vessel
shows Picasso even stole his doves from Ghana.
But Africa has come back
I think, to reclaim its own images
as Romaire Bearden, his art
at the American Museum.
and Vachel Lindsay loved you
but you go further,
in the box,
not my personification of a continent.
I walk back on Columbia, a break in the drizzle,
to the border at 14th St
where signs become Spanish.
Turbulences cross the map,
snow falls in the panhandle of Texas.
This morning Classical 104FM
advertises a book (illustrated)
of poems by Robert Frost
“makes profound truths
in a language
everybody can understand”
Out on the street
Latinos with air compressors on their backs
blow the dead leaves away.
Poet's Note: Washington D.C. November 1992