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Friday, August 15, 2014

Once Our Land

As it happens, once our land
Was guaranteed the upper hand.
We ruled the seas from here to there
And landed armies everywhere.
The Kaiser, Hitler, Ho Chi Minh
No enemy could hope to win.
Our cities far from foreign shores,
Our people safe from far-off wars
Grew fat in their security
From sea to ever-shining sea.

And so it was we thought to share
Our good fortune as we could spare
The sacred seeds of liberty
Blooming on blood-watered tree.
We disregarded Europe's classes
And embraced the huddled masses
Come one, come all, out went the call
As hubris presages a fall,
For did not Man want to be free
And dwell in true equality?

German, Italian, Irish too,
Norwegian, Swedish, Dutch, and Jew,
They came to seek a better life
Escaping all that Old World strife.
And yet, they did not understand
The rights of every Englishman,
The Common Law was mystery
To grandchildren of serfs unfree.
And so they swore to flag and place
While seeking to transform the base.

Whatever happened, we had got
Atomic bombs, and they did not.
But then came Nineteen Sixty-Five
When sons of refugees contrived
To open doors to all the races
Black and brown and yellow faces.
Thus assured prosperity
We gave away technology,
We ruined universities
While lauding our diversities.

God was dead or so we heard
And Nation just a racist word
We learned a new and nobler truth
Built on a dream of vibrant youth
Our jobs went sailing overseas
And to incoming H1Bs
Then aliens invaded schools
We realized that we'd been fools.
At last we saw the dreadful fact
Of copybook gods coming back.

Once we had the Maxim Gun
Whatever, so does everyone.
Now we live in exciting times
And pay the price for history's crimes.

Labels: ,

49 Comments:

Anonymous paleopaleo August 15, 2014 3:00 AM  

And yet, they did not understand
The rights of every Englishman,
The Common Law was mystery
To grandchildren of serfs unfree.


Yes

Blogger rycamor August 15, 2014 3:18 AM  

The Street (1919)

Anonymous Anti-Democracy Activist August 15, 2014 4:17 AM  

Got Gnon?

Anonymous A. Nonymous August 15, 2014 5:04 AM  

Three cheers for the Belloc and Kipling homages.

Blogger Myles August 15, 2014 5:29 AM  

Some of the phrasing is a little clumsy, but very good, otherwise!

Anonymous A Visitor August 15, 2014 5:39 AM  

Very well said. I passed through a small town the other day on my way to my destination. It was like going back in time. There are some remnants left. Our way of life shall endure, even if only on a small scale. One wonders if Hart, Cellar, Kennedy, and LBJ knew what they were doing or even cared. Hatred of your birth country...I can't imagine.

Anonymous TroperA August 15, 2014 5:39 AM  

I hear the term "Gnon" a lot. Could anyone explain to me what it is? (All I get when I google it is "Girls Night Out Networking", which doesn't seem to fit into the spirit of its usage...)

Anonymous VD August 15, 2014 5:41 AM  

Nature or Nature's God.

Anonymous PhillipGeorge(c)2014 August 15, 2014 6:22 AM  

Edwardian Britain was the Western World high water mark. Then Edward died. The Titanic Sank. Then WWI.
In the blink of an eye civilization slipped and has not quite stopped falling.

Rudyard Kipling saw the fall, writing Recessional just 17 years before the Great War.

Blogger Myles August 15, 2014 6:48 AM  

@VD

"Which ones? It's not exactly polished; I just ripped it off in two short sittings last night and this morning. I know "in intriguing" was clumsy and changed it to "in exciting". Which other phrases require attention? "

(I can't see the reply comment in the thread and am quoting from my email.)

In my opinion, using "whatever" as a word of dismissal seems a bit juvenile. I think "[but] no matter, so does everyone." would reflect the seriousness of the poem's subject matter better.

In the part "The sacred seeds of liberty / Fallen from our blood-spattered tree." "our" seems extraneous to the cadence. As far as I can tell, this seems like a reference to Jefferson's "tree of liberty" quote, so "blood-watered" or "blood-nourished tree" would be clearer.

The part "Then aliens invaded schools / We realized that we'd been fools", "aliens" could be changed to "foreigners" or to "Then as strangers invaded" reflecting not only the illegal Hispanics but the whole gamut of immigration's effects on American education. "All" could be added to the second part of that rhyme for "We realized that we'd all been fools," which would keep the cadence a bit better.

Not a quibble, but I, personally would like if the line "At last we saw the dreadful fact / Of copybook gods coming back." read "At last we saw the dreadful fact / The copybook gods, they're coming back!"

Just one humble reader's opinion. Take it for what it's worth.


Blogger Conan the Cimmerian, King of Aquilonia August 15, 2014 7:22 AM  

Excellent

Blogger Houston August 15, 2014 7:42 AM  

"They came to seek a better life
Escaping all that Old World strife.
And yet, they did not understand
The rights of every Englishman,
The Common Law was mystery
To grandchildren of serfs unfree.
And so they swore to flag and place
While seeking to transform the base."

This pretty well describes the mentality of my older relatives towards the host country. Things I heard growing up: "America has no culture. America has no history. The jury system is stupid because only judges and lawyers can understand what the law is." They memorized just enough facts about American history and government to pass the citizenship exam.

Blogger Outlaw X August 15, 2014 7:45 AM  

This poem I'll call sublime
Will surely stand the test of time.

Anonymous VD August 15, 2014 7:52 AM  

They memorized just enough facts about American history and government to pass the citizenship exam.

And then they voted.... Democracy, even in its limited representative form, is dumb enough. Democracy + Immigration is pure insanity.

Blogger Houston August 15, 2014 7:54 AM  

They voted Democrat to expand the welfare state, to make the new home as much like the old home as possible.

Anonymous Stingray August 15, 2014 8:08 AM  

OT but I thought you all would appreciate this. Homeschooling has grown 27% in North Carolina.

I imagine it is much the same in most of the states. Good news. I do wonder when, with the growing numbers, stronger attacks will come against it.

Blogger Nate August 15, 2014 8:08 AM  

"They memorized just enough facts about American history and government to pass the citizenship exam."

I think an important bit is being left out. in the early 1900s things were quite different for an immigrant coming here. As I have said before... they changed your freakin' name. Immigrants were expected to change.

Not only do the idiots believe in the myth of the melting pot... They believe in a magic melting pot that doesn't employ heat.

Blogger Nate August 15, 2014 8:19 AM  

"This pretty well describes the mentality of my older relatives towards the host country. Things I heard growing up: "America has no culture. America has no history. The jury system is stupid because only judges and lawyers can understand what the law is." "

wait...

you're saying they were right?

Blogger Houston August 15, 2014 8:24 AM  

Nate: "you're saying they were right?:

No. I'm saying they regarded the history of the Continent and the main principle of Roman law (the law is whatever the State says it is) as standards of legitimacy that America didn't measure up to.

Anonymous aero August 15, 2014 9:05 AM  

Having whats in our minds sucked out and put into words.

Anonymous PhillipGeorge(c)2014 August 15, 2014 9:14 AM  

a magic melting pot

good turn of phrase Nate. I was driving around thinking today about the word "scientist". Its another magical word. Said often enough everything turns to rational.
"Diversity", likewise, said often enough, just creates cohesion, coherence, community, meets aspirations, even puts food on the table and completes plumbing systems and engineering projects on budget.

There's a theory the common law is still there; just hidden behind legal fiction and color of law actors..


But what's so very often overlooked is the common law had a boundary condition - the Word of God - before which everyone bowed, was coronated, made oath, or swore testimony. Without a bible nothing was expected to work.

And look; it simply doesn't.

Anonymous H August 15, 2014 9:22 AM  

One idea I always toyed around with in my head is that if America declines and falls, the world wouldn't see another democratic (or republic) society for a long time because the future oligarchies would point to America and say "Look at how well they had it! All the resources they needed, all the land they needed, and naturally protected from the rest of the world, and they still ruined it! See why democracy (republic) is bad? Now let us rule you in peace because we know what's best for our country and you don't."

Anonymous cheddarman' August 15, 2014 9:34 AM  

Set that to music and it will be a hit in about 10 years

Anonymous Bz August 15, 2014 9:34 AM  

On a somewhat related note, Middle Easterners no longer want to be white: http://www.pewtrusts.org/en/research-and-analysis/blogs/stateline/2014/08/13/counting-americans-of-middle-eastern-north-african-descent

(Fine by me.)

Blogger njartist August 15, 2014 9:55 AM  

But what's so very often overlooked is the common law had a boundary condition - the Word of God - before which everyone bowed, was coronated, made oath, or swore testimony. Without a bible nothing was expected to work.


This. And it is the Protestant Reformation which brought it to you: Luther set free the Israelites from Babylon - Rome. However, the Anglo-Saxons - Germanic tribes - had in place their own traditions, many of which already conformed to the Common Law; for the very reason the tribe(s) were Israelites.

Just a small question: What tribe was in the elite power when the Common Law was pushed aside in favor of Positivism - the name Oliver Wendell Holmes comes to mind; and what tribe held sway when case law became prevalent?

Blogger James Dixon August 15, 2014 10:07 AM  

> Now let us rule you in peace because we know what's best for our country and you don't.

RAH - Any government will work if authority and responsibility are equal and coordinate. This does not insure “good” government, it simply insures that it will work.

As long as their heads wind up on pikes when things go wrong, it will work.

Anonymous PhillipGeorge(c)2014 August 15, 2014 10:15 AM  

njartist....I don't know. I defer to an older time. Judges are to ensure process. Juries are to decide facts.

Power to the people, from whence it comes, means jury nullification.
Judicial review has been a disaster.

People should put congress/ parliament/ the legislature, on trial with every sitting of a Jury. Bad laws, like off food would be thrown out/ would evaporate like manna at high noon.

The only way forward is back. [the power of one stuff]

Anonymous Jonathan August 15, 2014 10:28 AM  

As a youngish person I considered "whatever" the capstone of the piece.

Juvenile? No. Curdled? Hell, yes.

Anonymous Mike M. August 15, 2014 10:34 AM  

Well, it's the only country I've got.

So to quote Captain Jones, "Strike? I have not yet BEGUN to fight!"

Anonymous VD August 15, 2014 10:35 AM  

As a youngish person I considered "whatever" the capstone of the piece.

The reason it is there is that it refers back to the Belloc poem.

Anonymous Jonathan August 15, 2014 10:35 AM  

Juries of peers only work in a population where individuals in the population are suitable peers for one another. Frankly, with the culturally mongrel people today anything besides judicial review is even possible.

Anonymous Jonathan August 15, 2014 10:39 AM  

Not the fist time to rue my "couldn't care less" attitude to poetry back when I had the time to put some serious nose time in books.

Anonymous Josh August 15, 2014 10:41 AM  

So who is the American Edward? Was it Reagan?

Anonymous Alexander August 15, 2014 11:14 AM  

Given how Americans was ruled by WASPs at the time and not ashamed of it, the American Edward was probably Edward.

Anonymous Josh August 15, 2014 11:25 AM  

Given how Americans was ruled by WASPs at the time and not ashamed of it, the American Edward was probably Edward.

No, America wasn't at its zenith.

An argument could be made for desert storm being the American zenith. In which case Reagan is the American Victoria and Bush is the American Edward.

Blogger Outlaw X August 15, 2014 11:53 AM  

I am communicated with best with through poetry, paradox and wit. Like Chesterton who combines paradox and wit and his prose has a certain poetic aroma. I'm not a writer but some what a poet so I don't really have a name or even know if there is a name for that writing style.

Anonymous Veorary August 15, 2014 12:04 PM  

Just a small question: What tribe was in the elite power when the Common Law was pushed aside in favor of Positivism - the name Oliver Wendell Holmes comes to mind; and what tribe held sway when case law became prevalent?

To answer the latter question, the Anglo-Saxons, or perhaps the Frankish Plantagenets. Case law - precedent and stare decisis - is absolutely integral to the working of the common law. Common law is basically the shared legal customs of the land, as refined and applied over time to new situations presented by individual cases. Common law != natural law.

Blogger James Dixon August 15, 2014 12:05 PM  

> So who is the American Edward? Was it Reagan?

Probably Kennedy. He either was or did a good job of pretending to be, the last of the old school democrats who still understood the foundations of the country.

Anonymous Wyrd August 15, 2014 12:24 PM  

Got Gnon?

Speaking of Gnon, orcs are to murder Nick Land:

http://www.xenosystems.net/king-mob/

Anonymous Wyrd August 15, 2014 12:25 PM  

*...are threatening to murder..."

Bloody typos.

Anonymous bw August 15, 2014 12:43 PM  

"The Browning" is integral to "The Leveling."

Blogger Simon Jester August 15, 2014 12:49 PM  

...

Once we had the Maxim Gun
Whatever, so does everyone.
Now we live in exciting times
And pay the price for history's crimes.
To wit, the West's own Iron Dome,
Hollow, rusty over foxhole homes
Al Q'ud would steal it all away
to melt the children at Persians' stay.

############

inspired by the other post on style, writing, and connecting with the message of the author.

Anonymous Johnny Caustic August 15, 2014 4:01 PM  

I would love to see a resurgence of people writing old-fashioned poetry, with the rhyme, meter, and alliteration all strong, and an emphasis on memorizability. Not with an eye to greatness, but with an eye to having fun and writing about topics of personal interest.

This is a fine addition to that body, good enough that I think it's worth your while to continue improving the clunky parts.

I agree with paleopaleo that "And yet, they did not understand / The rights of every Englishman, / The Common Law was mystery / To grandchildren of serfs unfree" is golden. Other best lines are "We disregarded Europe's classes / And embraced the huddled masses / Come one, come all, out went the call / As hubris presages a fall", "But then came Nineteen Sixty-Five / When sons of refugees contrived", and "God was dead or so we heard / And Nation just a racist word / We learned a new and nobler truth / Built on a dream of vibrant youth."

Clunky parts: "Fallen from our blood-spattered tree" disrupts the rhythm; "fallen" and "spattered" both stress the wrong syllable. "Seeking to transform the base" is too vague. I suggest "And so they swore to flag and land / While blithely tying freedom's hands." "Escaping all that Old World strife" seems too colloquial; I suggest "Escaping from the Old World strife". Finally, I don't like the line "We ruined universities" because it demands explanation and it wanders too far from the poem's main topic.

Anonymous Johnny Caustic August 15, 2014 4:05 PM  

Minor correction: "spattered" stresses the right syllable, but "ttered" takes so long to pronounce that it nonetheless disrupts the rhythm when spoken out loud.

Anonymous Anti-Democracy Activist August 15, 2014 5:44 PM  

OT (Maybe): Darwinian evolution challenged by new research from the University of Adelaide:

http://www.adelaidenow.com.au/news/south-australia/darwins-theory-of-evolution-challenged-by-university-of-adelaide-genetic-memory-research-published-in-journal-science/story-fni6uo1m-1227024901078

Anonymous Wyrd August 15, 2014 6:22 PM  

Thanks for posting that link. Very interesting indeed.

Anonymous Pellegri August 15, 2014 11:02 PM  

OT (Maybe): Darwinian evolution challenged by new research from the University of Adelaide:

http://www.adelaidenow.com.au/news/south-australia/darwins-theory-of-evolution-challenged-by-university-of-adelaide-genetic-memory-research-published-in-journal-science/story-fni6uo1m-1227024901078


This doesn't seem any different from what's already known about epigenetics, they're just expanding it to more things. Starvation resulting in offspring prone to gorging and obesity isn't new; I wouldn't be surprised if a developed preference for certain foods also has an epigenetic component, given the ridiculous amount of gene rearrangement involved in the development of taste and smell.

It isn't memory the way we think of it. And the fact the scientist quoted is talking about it as the "decoration" on genes points at heritable epigenetic factors like chromatin methylation.

Anonymous wcu August 16, 2014 12:25 AM  

Very good Vox.

Blogger Pogo Possum April 10, 2015 9:45 AM  

Wow. This was pretty gutsy.

If I'm reading this right, then the Worldcon crowd is the "Englishmen," and the Sad Pups/Rabid Pups are the immigrants who come in, wanting to overwhelm by force of numbers, and change things to their own preference.

Pretty gutsy, being willing to cast your own situation in those terms.

Perhaps you have more personal integrity than I was led to believe.

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