Monday, November 3, 2014

Monday's Poetry: "Election Day, 1884"

by Pa Rock
Poetry Appreciator

Today's poem is Walt Whitman's "Election Day, 1884," part of his monumental collection:  Leaves of Grass.  Whitman used the piece to stress that of all of America's special features and attributes, none were as important as the ability to determine our future through voting.  Whitman might not feel as uplifted about voting if he were to see how today's big money from billionaires and special interest groups has prostituted the process.

But just because the deck is stacked, doesn't mean the game can't be won.   Tomorrow is the day when we can all have our say - not just those who are overburdened with the "speech" of money.   Get out early and GO VOTE!

Election Day, 1884
by Walt Whitman

If I should need to name, O Western World, your powerfulest
         scene and show,
'Twould not be you, Niagara—nor you, ye limitless prairies—nor
         your huge rifts of canyons, Colorado,
Nor you, Yosemite—nor Yellowstone, with all its spasmic geyser-
         loops ascending to the skies, appearing and disappearing,
Nor Oregon's white cones—nor Huron's belt of mighty lakes—
         nor Mississippi's stream:
—This seething hemisphere's humanity, as now, I'd name— the
          still small voice vibrating—America's choosing day,
(The heart of it not in the chosen—the act itself the main, the
         quadriennial choosing,)
The stretch of North and South arous'd—sea-board and inland
         —Texas to Maine—the Prairie States—Vermont, Virginia,
The final ballot-shower from East to West—the paradox and con-
The countless snow-flakes falling—(a swordless conflict,
Yet more than all Rome's wars of old, or modern Napoleon's:)
         the peaceful choice of all,
Or good or ill humanity—welcoming the darker odds, the dross:
—Foams and ferments the wine? it serves to purify—while the
         heart pants, life glows:
These stormy gusts and winds waft precious ships,

Swell'd Washington's, Jefferson's, Lincoln's sails.

(Historical Note:  The presidential election of 1884 saw the breaking of a string of six Republican victories in a row when Democrat Grover Cleveland defeated Republican James G. Blaine.  Cleveland barely won that election by carrying his home state of New York by less than 1,500 votes.)

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