A Poem For Election Day, And For Molly And Studs
Trust Walt Whitman to know what's important.
Courtesy of Robert Pinsky, a poet himself, and the Boston Globe, with a H/T to BarbinMD at Daily Kos:
ELECTION DAY, NOVEMBER, 1884
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 geyserloops 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 quadrennial choosing,)
The stretch of North and South arous'd - sea-board and inland - Texas to Maine - the Prairie States - Vermont, Virginia, California,
The final ballot-shower from East to West - the paradox and conflict,
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.
Studs Terkel died on Friday. Like Whitman, Studs contained multitudes. Because he was a great listener. And a great talker, too. He combined these two talents in his writing. His life and his work were living testaments to the democratic ethos.
We know that Studs was excited about Obama's candidacy, and that he wished for him to be bolder and more progressive, thanks to this article.
And here's Calvin Trillin writing about Studs' way of listening, and his relationship to other writers.
And here's Studs himself, writing in 2002 at The Nation
I can't think of Studs without missing Molly Ivins.
I one of our last columns Molly made it clear that she had grown tired of what she saw as Clintonian accomodationism, but I don't think she would have been insensible to the issue of sexism that reared it's all too familiar head in the primaries, nor do I think that she would have been entirely happy with Barack Obama. But I know she would have been a good deal less than friendly to the entire PUMA phenom.
That Molly could be a radical and a Democrat never seemed problematic for her, or for us, who loved her. Here she is talking about Anne Richards, hardly a radical, but a genuine liberal and Democrat.
And finally, for your election day reading pleasure. here is a worthy understudy for Molly, Anne Malott writing about the final weeks of Molly's life, which as you might guess, was still all about politics, and history and neighbors, and fellow citizens, and remembering and loving and laughing and caring.