Oct 302013

Confusion and wailing are all our politics; the rending of garments, and the distraction of demagoguery are everywhere in our public speech and national stances. The old “root, hog, or die” attitude of self-reliance, the “get off’n my porch” reply to the Federal Revenuer, and even the possibility of such self-reliance, or such flip temerity in the face of authority, are dwindling in our landscape beyond the manicured precincts of today’s high-rent, medievally “gated communities.” As in Indra’s net, all things connect to all things. With no rhymes to remind us of who we are, our geopolitical impact will lessen. “The kingdom was lost, all for the want of a horseshoe nail.” The horseshoe nails of Japan, among other anchors, are haiku; it can be a thing as small and forever as that. Basho re-branded Japanese self-consciousness through his own, deeply historical, sense of values. The tales we tell ourselves about who we are and what we must be can open or close possible futures to our activity. In the TV show “Dr. Who,” the good Doctor most often solves dilemmas in a world that resembles current-day London to a remarkable degree; other times are, perhaps inevitably, less real to those writers. It is the expectations the imagination permits that shapes such choices. Here, the poet laments that such sayings no longer apply to his nation, that the folklore that could have grown up around the civic religion of our founding documents has waned toward silence. The Revolution that occurred first “in the minds of the people,” has faded from their lips. The artist’s duty to carve out unforgettable rhymes that ring true for generations has gone untended; our native hills “echo naught of those old patriot tales.” The mechanical, political adherence to the letter of the Constitution chunters on loudly and deafly, tangling America in the world’s woes as the upholder of world order and an increasingly vague “symbol” of the rights of the individual. We prosecute tendentious wars, but sing no songs of patriot lore:

"No onward story among their aged seams repeats,
 Nothing but blood is added to what was great."

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