With the current semester winding down, I will soon resume posting on a more regular basis.
Until then, here is a poem by Walt Whitman that I stumbled across while getting ready for a class I’ve been teaching this term on the topic of catastrophe and memory. It struck me as having applicability beyond his intended audience of boys and girls (yes, I’m thinking of you, Donald).
Walt Whitman: Poem of Remembrance for a Girl or a Boy
YOU just maturing youth! You male or female!
Remember the organic compact of These States,
Remember the pledge of the Old Thirteen thenceforward to the rights,
life, liberty, equality of man,
Remember what was promulged by the founders, ratified by The States,
signed in black and white by the Commissioners, and read by
Washington at the head of the army,
Remember the purposes of the founders,– Remember Washington;
Remember the copious humanity streaming from every direction toward
Remember the hospitality that belongs to nations and men; (Cursed be
nation, woman, man, without hospitality!)
Remember, government is to subserve individuals,
Not any, not the President, is to have one jot more than you or me,
Not any habitan of America is to have one jot less than you or me.
Anticipate when the thirty or fifty millions, are to become the
hundred, or two hundred millions, of equal freemen and
freewomen, amicably joined.
Recall ages–One age is but a part–ages are but a part;
The eternal equilibrium of things is great, and the eternal overthrow
of things is great,
And there is another paradox.
Recall the angers, bickerings, delusions, superstitions, of the idea
Recall the bloody cruelties and crimes.
Anticipate the best women;
I say an unnumbered new race of hardy and well-defined women are to
spread through all These States,
I say a girl fit for These States must be free, capable, dauntless,
just the same as a boy.
Anticipate your own life — retract with merciless power,
Shirk nothing — retract in time — Do you see those errors, diseases,
weaknesses, lies, thefts?
Do you see that lost character? — Do you see decay, consumption, rum-
drinking, dropsy, fever, mortal cancer or inflammation?
Do you see death, and the approach of death?
About James Schmidt
Professor of History, Philosophy, and Political Science
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