We always praise what’s praisable
understood in the overtones.
When we say we’re free
we mean more or less –
always too much less, probably.
When we say our country’s great
we mean – as others have said about theirs –
such as it is, based on us.
Us – each of whom
by all he himself has chosen
stands not as tall as he’d like to stand.
Governing men have lied,
so have I, so have you, lied,
among many other things.
Our greed and fraud are broadcast.
Jefferson thinks it’ll all work out;
John Adams has doubts.
The iron tongue of that bell
will ring and bong and clang and sing
a complicated song.
It’s physical tone shall sound pure,
like the communication of angels;
but we’ll know (won’t we?)
what’s going on, who’s pulling
together on the rope underneath:
a man, a woman: both,
among other things, Americans.
—thanks to Nils Peterson