Guest poem sent in by Issa Mikel
(Poem #1115) Shine, Perishing Republic
While this America settles in the mould of its vulgarity, heavily thickening to empire, And protest, only a bubble in the molten mass, pops and sighs out, and the mass hardens, I sadly smiling remember that the flower fades to make fruit, the fruit rots to make earth. Out of the mother; and through the spring exultances, ripeness and decadence; and home to the mother. You making haste, haste on decay: not blameworthy; life is good, be it stubbornly long or suddenly A mortal splendor: meteors are not needed less than mountains: shine, perishing republic. But for my children, I would have them keep their distance from the thickening center; corruption Never has been compulsory, when the cities lie at the monster's feet there are left the mountains. And boys, be in nothing so moderate as in love of man, a clever servant, insufferable master. There is the trap that catches noblest spirits, that caught -- they say -- God, when he walked on earth.
I thought this poem appropriate in light of recent events. It captures the notions of America as the embodiment of many noble sentiments as well as its inevitable failure to realize them. Jeffers gives us, as one critic put it, cold comfort in the fact that our follies are somehow inevitable, part of a greater cycle. Its a humbling poem, not a pessimistic one, I think; it reminds us to temper our love of humankind, but not extinguish it. Issa Links: Some excerpts from writings on the poem: http://www.english.uiuc.edu/maps/poets/g_l/jeffers/shine.htm A biography of Jeffers: http://www.english.uiuc.edu/maps/poets/g_l/jeffers/life.htm Both from the Jeffers page at http://www.english.uiuc.edu/maps/poets/g_l/jeffers/jeffers.htm