On this Fourth of July we look at two poems that portray America prior to the initial Independence Day and one of the celebrations after it. First, Carl Sandburg, with striking imagery, looks at fireworks. John Adams said prophetically, "I believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary festival. It ought to be celebrated by pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations from one end of this continent to the other..." And so it is.
Ralph Waldo Emerson writes about the courage and stamina of those who fought and those who died in the battles of Concord and Lexington to make possible our ability to celebrate our freedom . So while we're all enjoying our hotdogs and baseball and parades and fireworks, let's say a prayer of thanks to God that there were then - and are still today - those who value freedom and their fellow man so, that they are willing to give their lives for the cause of liberty.
FOURTH OF JULY NIGHT
- Carl Sandburg
The little boat at anchor in black water sat murmuring to the tall black sky
A white sky bomb fizzed on a black line.
A rocket hissed it's red signature into the west.
Now a shower of Chinese fire alphabets,
A cry of flower pots broken in flames,
A long curve to a purple spray, three violet balloons---
Drips of seaweed tangled in gold, shimmering symbols of mixed numbers,
Tremulous arrangements of cream gold folds of a bride's wedding gown---
A few sky bombs spoke their pieces, then velvet dark.
The little boat at anchor in black water sat murmuring to the tall black sky.
BY THE RUDE BRIDGE
- Ralph Waldo Emerson
By the rude bridge that arched the flood,
Their flag to April's breeze unfurled,
Here once the embattled farmers stood,
And fired the shot heard round the world.
The foe long since in silence slept;
Alike the conqueror silent sleeps;
And Time the ruined bridge has swept
Down the dark stream which seaward creeps.
On this green bank, by this soft stream,
We set today a votive stone;
That memory may their deed redeem,
When, like our sires, our sons are gone.
Spirit that made those heroes dare
To die, and leave their children free,
Bid Time and Nature gently spare
The shaft we raise to them and thee.