Observations, Poetry.

I hear America singing

Should we be optimistic about the future of the American dream?  There is no reason we should not be.  Walt Whitman was optimistic about America, and his optimism was rooted in the potential for each American to realize their personal vision in a nation constructed to minimize tyranny; America is the land of the free.

Today we are facing the consequences of a long-term corruption of the American dream; we have deeply indebted ourselves and our nation in the pursuit of individual material betterment and the maintenance of a global military presence.  The corruption is both individual and collective, and the failures cut across ideologies, social classes, and leadership hierarchies. With all of our self-inflicted troubles, this is no time to despair, but to reflect, re-prioritize, and act.

What should the American dream look like going forward?  What kind of life do we want to have, and what kind of legacy do we want to bequeath future Americans?  Perhaps a certain modesty ought to be entertained by Americans going forward.  Is it in the best  interests of Americans to be standing alone as the world’s policeman, something we have been heavily borrowing money to do for the past thirty years?  Do we need to blindly seek a bigger house, more cars, and bigger TV’s when the price has been to individually spend large amounts of money we do not have?

Walt Whitman celebrated the resilience of his fellow Americans, and their capacity for work and working together.  Here are two of his very American poems from his Leaves of Grass collection.

I Hear America Singing

I hear America singing, the varied carols I hear,
Those of mechanics, each one singing his as it should be blithe and strong,
The carpenter singing his as he measures his plank or beam,
The mason singing his as he makes ready for work, or leaves off work,
The boatman singing what belongs to him in his boat, the deckhand singing on the steamboat deck,
The shoemaker singing as he sits on his bench, the hatter singing as he stands,
The wood-cutter’s song, the ploughboy’s on his way in the morning,
or at noon intermission or at sundown,
The delicious singing of the mother, or of the young wife at work,
or of the girl sewing or washing,
Each singing what belongs to him or her and to none else,
The day what belongs to the day—at night the party of young fellows, robust, friendly,
Singing with open mouths their strong melodious songs.

For You, O Democracy

Come, I will make the continent indissoluble,
I will make the most splendid race the sun ever shone upon,
I will make divine magnetic lands,
With the love of comrades,
With the life-long love of comrades.

I will plant companionship thick as trees along all the rivers of America,
and along the shores of the great lakes, and all over the prairies,
I will make inseparable cities with their arms about each other’s necks,
By the love of comrades,
By the manly love of comrades.

For you these from me, O Democracy, to serve you ma femme!
For you, for you I am trilling these songs.

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