Friday, September 11, 2009

Poetry Friday

I was working at the county hospital when the towers fell. I remember a patient coming up to our window with a story about a plane crashing into a building. And for a moment I thought it was a joke. After we flipped on the TV I wasn't laughing anymore.

I'm not normally sentimental when it comes to these type of tragedies although I can remember (incredibly vividly) where I was during the Challenger explosion or the bombing in Oklahoma City. And I remember where I was on 9/11. I won't go on about the attack. That for me is past. But instead I think about what made this country great. People working together, working with neighbors, working to create a better world. The quiet and proud work that is done without praise or applause but is done for the joy of doing. And the words of Walt Whitman (the quintessential American poet) comes to mind. I don't normally like Whitman. His style is something you have to grow used to. But his poem seems to sum up today for me.

I Hear America Singing.
by Walt Whitman

I hear America singing, the varied carols I hear,
Those of mechanics, each one singing his as it should be blithe and strong,
The carpenter singing his as he measures his plank or beam,
The mason singing his as he makes ready for work, or leaves off work,
The boatman singing what belongs to him in his boat, the deckhandsinging on the steamboat deck,
The shoemaker singing as he sits on his bench, the hatter singing as he stands,
The wood-cutter's song, the ploughboy's on his way in the morning, or at noon intermission or at sundown,
The delicious singing of the mother, or of the young wife at work, or of the girl sewing or washing,
Each singing what belongs to him or her and to none else,
The day what belongs to the day--at night the party of young fellows, robust, friendly,
Singing with open mouths their strong melodious songs.

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