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A Poem Called Knowledge That Stands In Calm Opposition To The Tone Of Our Society

Here is a poem I like called Knowledge by Louise Bogan. ( 1897-1970) I think this poem helps show how to live a life useful to others and manageable for one’s self. —-

Now that I know

How passion warms little

Of flesh in the mould,

And treasure is brittle,-

I’ll lie here and learn

How, over their ground

Trees make a long shadow

And a light sound. 

June 11, 2008 Posted by | Poetry | , , | Leave a comment

Poem Called Pledge Of Allegiance

USA flag on television.svg

Here is a poem I wrote called Pledge of Allegiance

His money is invested

In a corporation based in Bermuda.

His vacation was taken

On a cruise ship flying the flag of Panama.

His home was built

By undocumented workers.

His allegiances and the meaning of his citizenship

Are all confused.

Except for the certainty

That his needs come first. 

June 8, 2008 Posted by | Poetry, Politics | , | Leave a comment

A Poem Called Consent

Here is a poem I wrote called Consent 

How Pompeii accepted Vesuvius,

How Johnstown accepted the flood,

How dinosaurs accepted asteroid impacts,

Is how I accept

The judgements and actions of the majority.

May 22, 2008 Posted by | Poetry, Politics | , , | Leave a comment

A Poem Called Endings

Here is a poem I wrote called Endings

At the end of a dictatorship

Statues of rulers are pulled off pedestals. 

At the end of a democracy

The individual is placed on a pedestal.

At the end of a dictatorship

Walls are torn down.

At the end of a democracy

Gates and walls are built

For people to live behind. 

May 18, 2008 Posted by | Poetry | , | Leave a comment

Poem–Library Of Congress

Here is a short poem I wrote after visiting the Library of Congress a few years back—

In the main reading room

Of the Library of Congress

Tourists gawk

At the magnificent architecture

And at the odd sight

Of people reading books.

Here are other Texas Liberal poetry posts

May 3, 2008 Posted by | Books, Poetry | , , | Leave a comment

A Poem Called Planning

 

 Here is a poem I wrote called Planning—

The town was marketed

Before streets and homes were built.

Homes were finished

Before roads and sewers were built.

People moved in with kids

Before schools were built.  

And people wonder why what they have

Is never what they want.

Please click here for other Texas Liberal poetry posts.

April 13, 2008 Posted by | Poetry | | 2 Comments

A Poem Called Climate

 

Here is a poem I wrote called Climate.

Rain?

Rain coat.

Dark?

Turn on a light.

Snow?

Shovel.

Moral climate

Accepted,

As if

No response is possible.

March 31, 2008 Posted by | Poetry | | 3 Comments

Poem Called Self-Reliance

Here is a poem I wrote called Self-Reliance

He did not imagine the characters

He did not write the script

When told he was the author

He immediately saw the trick

March 22, 2008 Posted by | Poetry | | 2 Comments

Japanese Immigrant Poem About Working In Hawaii Canefields

 

Here is a poem from around 1905 by a Japanese immigrant who had come to Hawaii to work in a sugarcane plantation. (Photo above is of sugarcane in Hawaii.)

Hawaii, Hawaii

Like a dream

So I came

But my tears

Are flowing now

In the canefields.

Here is a history of Japanese immigration to Hawaii.

While the poem tells the story well enough, here is information about working in a sugar plantation in Hawaii.

February 19, 2008 Posted by | Immigration, Poetry | , , , | 3 Comments

2000 Year Old Love Poem From India For Valentine’s Day

 

Here is a 2000 year old poem from India called “You Love Her.” ( Please click here for other Texas Liberal poetry posts.)  

You love her, while I love you,

and she hates you, and says so.

Love ties us in knots,

keeps us in hell.

February 14, 2008 Posted by | Poetry | , , | 1 Comment

Poem By A “Factory Girl” Working In 19th-Century Textile Mill

Below is a poem written by a “factory girl” of Lowell, Massachusetts. The anonymous author of this poem was an Irish immigrant of the 19th century working in a textile mill in Lowell.

Above is a picture of abandoned mills in Lowell. 

Here is a link to the American Textile History Museum in Lowell. 

Here is the Lowell National Historical Park which features Lowell’s mill history. 

Here is a history of Irish immigration to the United States. 

Here is the poem—

When I set out for Lowell,

Some factory for to find,

I left my native country

And all my friends behind.

But now I am in Lowell,

And summon’d by the bell,

I think less of the factory

Than of my native dell.

The factory bell begins to ring

And we must obey

And to our old employment go,

Or else be turned away.

Come all ye weary factory girls,

I’ll have you understand,

I’m going to leave the factory

And return to my native land.

January 30, 2008 Posted by | History, Poetry | , , , , , | 11 Comments

Maybe We’re Afraid Hispanic Immigrants Will Treat Us The Way We Treated Native Americans & Others

I’ve been reading A Different Mirror—A History Of Multicultural America by Ronald Takaki.

This book is an account of the different races and ethnic groups that have lived in America.

In detaling grievous British abuse of the Irish in the 15th and 16th centuries, portrayed in Different Mirror as a precursor for the mistreatment of blacks and native Americans by British colonists , Takaki uses the following poem from the period written by Angus O’Daly

O body which I see without a head,

It is the sight of thee which has withered up my strength.

Divided and impaled in Ath-cliath,

The learned of Banba will feel its loss.

Who will relive the wants of the poor?

Who will bestow cattle on the learned?

O body, since thou are without a head,

It is not life we care to choose after thee.

Takaki also uses the following quote from a Sioux tribesman named Luther Standing Bear—

The white man does not understand the Indian for the same reason he does not understand America…Continuing to troubled with primitive fears (he has) in his consciousness the perils of this frontier continent…The man from Europe is still a foreigner and an alien. And he still hates the man who questioned his path across the continent.”

Maybe the hostility some feel towards rising numbers of immigrants in the United States, reflects an awareness of the brutality of our forefathers. We know what we did to conquer the United States and we know that this violence has a history that goes back even before the settlement of the Americas.

Maybe what some are afraid of is being treated the same way.

Or maybe the fear is  we will somehow over the years be erased from the collective memory, just as was attempted with Native Americans.

In any case, many new people are coming to the United States. Nothing is going to stop that process.

We can find ways to live with these new folks. Or we can operate from fear and anger.

The choice is ours collectively. 

January 16, 2008 Posted by | Books, History, Immigration, Poetry | , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Sin To The Height Thy Fate Is Hell—Colonial Barbados

Colonial Barbados was said by some to be a kind of hell.

(Above—The Barbadoes Mulatto Gorl. A 1764 engraving by an Agostino Brunias. The Barbados Museum and Historical Society is a great place to learn about the history of Barbados.)  

Here is a poem about the place written in 1710—

And for one honest man ten thousand knavesBarbadoes Isle inhabited by slaves

Religion to thee’s a Romantick storey

Barbarity and ill-got wealth thy glory

All Sodom’s Sins are centered in thy heart

Death is thy look —Death in every part

Oh! Glorious isle in Vilany Excell

Sin to the height–thy fate is Hell.

In 1650 30,000 British colonists lived in Barbados. This was a large population for a colony of the time.

The attraction of Barbados that it was relatively easy to cultivate and that the natives had already been exterminated.

Here is information about native peoples of the Caribbean.

In the 1620’s through the 1640’s Barbados was populated in the main by indentured servants from England, Scotland and Ireland who hoped to work their way to freedom.  Most plantations on the island were small. The main crop was tobacco. However, the quality of the tobacco grown on Barbados was not first-rate.

As the economy of Barbados stagnated and hopes were not met, Barbadian planters , in response to a plot of rebellion by indentured servants, executed 18 of the men.

It was in the 1640’s that planters on the island moved to the labor intensive crop of sugar. Sugar grew well on Barbados.

Here is an article about the brutal process of making sugar in the 17th century.

From Alan Taylor’s American Colonies: The Settling Of North America

The sugar boom revolutionized the economy, landscape, demography and social structure of Barbados….Despite its small scale, by 1660 Barbados had 53,000 inhabitants–a density of 250 persons per square mile, which rose to 400 by the end of the century….The planters also filled the island with cane plants, obliterating the native forest. In 1676 the island’s governor observed, “There is not a foot of land in Barbados that is not employed to the very seaside.”…Much wildlife..vanished.

Growing sugar was terrible work—

The sugar planters needed a large and captive body of laborers…During planting season, the master expected every laborer daily to dig at least 60 large holes by hand with a hoe. Each hole contained one cane plant and required the shifting of 12 cubic feet of earth…free people did not volunteer for such…work. The sugar book demanded more workers at a time when the supply of indentured English-men was declining….at the same time, the intense exploitation of labor associated with sugar gave Barbados a more frightful reputation…Desperate for servants, the planters accepted growing numbers of ..criminals and political prisoners…Because white men could more easily escape…planters saw an advantage in employing only permanent slaves of a distinctive color.

By 1660, Barbados had become the first English colony with a black and enslaved majority…The growing slave population depended on increased slave imports, for the Barbadian slaves died faster than they could reproduce….The slaves succumbed to a deadly combination of tropical diseases, a brutal work regimen and the inadequate diet, housing and clothing provided by their masters. Rather than improve these conditions, the Barbadian planters found it more profitable t0 import more slaves.

However, rarely in life as it often seems, the oppressors suffered as as well for their misdeeds

…the Barbados planters paid some heavy psychological and physiological prices for their wealth and power. An especially ethnocentric people, the English found it …distasteful to dwell among Africans deemed so utterly different in complexion, speech and culture. With good cause, the planters also suffered..nightmares of slaves rising up to kill in the night. Adopting a siege mentality, the planters walled themselves within fortified houses that kept their blacks out. After 1680, the most successful grandees sought to escape from the profitable but troubling world they had made…

Most planters though, died before they could get away. During the 1640’s they had increased their exposure to deadly diseases by importing slaves bearing new pathogens from Africa…yellow fevermalaria...leprosy … elephantiasis.

The most thoughtful planters expressed dismay at what they had created….

Here are some facts about present-day Barbados from the BBC

Barbados is one of the more populous and prosperous Caribbean islands. Political, economic and social stability have given it one of the highest standards of living in the developing world.

It is a centre for financial services and has offshore reserves of oil and natural gas.

In recent years a construction boom has taken hold, with new hotels and housing complexes springing up. The trend accelerated as the island prepared to host some of the key Cricket World Cup matches in 2007.

However, a shortage of jobs has prompted many Barbadians – more often known as Bajans – to find work abroad. The money that they send home is an important source of income.

Most Barbadians are the descendants of African slaves who were brought to the island from the 17th century to work the sugar cane plantations.

Limestone caverns, coral reefs and a warm climate tempered by trade winds are among the island’s natural assets. Barbados is relatively flat, with highlands in the interior.

Here is some history of Barbados from the BBC. 

Here is the blog Barbados Free Press.

Here is a link to Nation News of Barbados.

The picture below is of a man riding a bike in Barbados.

December 14, 2007 Posted by | Art, Books, Colonial America, History, Poetry | , , , , , | 3 Comments

The Poet Paul Laurence Dunbar & White Liberals—The Line Between Good And Evil

 

Recently I read the Paul Laurence Dunbar novel The Sport of the Gods. This short book, published in 1901 as Mr. Dunbar was dying of tuberculosis, is about a black family that has moved from the South to Harlem. As you might suppose, it is a bleak tale. 

Mr. Dunbar, who died at age 34 in 1906, was once termed by Booker T. Washington as the “Poet Laureate” of the Negro Race.    

Mr. Dunbar was known as a “dialect poet.” He added black “dialect” to his poems. This was not “proper” English. Mr. Dunbar did this to gain acceptance as a poet. Mr. Dunbar did not always want to write in that form, but found it difficult to find equal praise for his poems in standard English.

This is what happens when your work is defined by people, who, whatever they might claim, do not at heart care about you as a human being and do not care about your aspirations in life.

Sometimes in life you have to work very hard to find your audience. 

Click here to read and hear Mr. Dunbar’s poetry in various forms. This link is provided by the University of Dayton. Dayton, Ohio was the hometown of the poet.     

In Lyrics of Sunshine and Shadow–The Tragic Courtship and Marriage of Paul Laurence Dunbar and Alice Ruth Moore by Eleanor Alexander, Mr. Dunbar is shown as an abusive man towards his wife, the poet Alice Ruth Moore. Ms. Alexander is a professor at Georgia Tech.

This book was reviewed in The New York Times in 2002 by Professor Paula Giddings who teaches at Smith College.  

From the review—“… Dunbar, whose alcoholism was compounded by what appears to have been a bipolar disorder that eeirly mirrored the society around him. The result was effusive expressions of sentiment, melancholia or violent outbursts—all of which found their way to Alice….Dunbar’s drinking and ranting got worse and even spilled over to public acts of humiliation and violence. In January 1902, four years before his death…he beat Alice within an inch of her life. She left him and, ignoring his ardent entreaties for reconciliation, never saw him again.”

As I read The Sport of the Gods, I often recalled the book review I had read five years earlier. Whatever the stresses in his life, and they were terrible stresses I’m certain, what could justify Mr. Dunbar beating up a woman? 

Are the literary merits of The Sport of the Gods and other works by Mr. Dunbar obscured or diminished by the way Mr. Dunbar behaved? 

While reading the book I also thought about how racial conditions played a large part in the anger of Mr. Dunbar went largely unaddressed for all the years of the New Deal and beyond. This was many years after Mr. Dunbar’s death. These conditions went on and on and still go on in many respects in our cities.

Here is information from the Library of Congress about racial discrimination in New Deal programs.

Most of the white liberals I would have likely voted for had I lived in that time where content enough to look the other way at the aparthied of the American South. FDR wanted Southern votes. So did Harry Truman, Adlai Stevenson and John Kennedy. ( Which is not to say that Mr. Truman or Mr. Kennedy did not make some gains in this area.)

Do these facts diminish the liberal accomplishments of the New Deal era and its aftermath?

Personally, I’d say yes. People’s lives were wasted living in an unfair country while people who claimed to care about fairness and justice did nothing or next-to-nothing.     

And while Mr. Dunbar’s work stands on its own, I can’t deny I was aware as I read Sport that Mr. Dunbar was guilty of the some of the same abuse he was writing about.

That said, we must never lose sight of the humanity and the frailty that is at the core of each individual in the world. I’ve yet to meet a person with totally clean hands.   

December 6, 2007 Posted by | Books, Poetry, Political History, Relationships | , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Giant Sea Scorpion & The Political Blog Lubbock Left

I’ve been remiss not to post about the prehistoric 8 foot sea scorpion that has been discovered. (Be sure to watch the video entitled “The Giant Beast” under the illustration in the link. It shows the sea scorpion attacking other creatures.)

This animal lived 390 million years ago. Its 2 1/2 foot fossilized claw was recently found in Germany.     

With the illustration below, you can see just how big this giant scorpion was—  

 

Scale model of the scorpion with a human

As for the “modern scorpion”, you’ll find them in Texas. None are fatal to human beings. Some scorpions can live up to 25 years. Here is information about scorpions in Texas taken from The Field Guide To Texas Insects by Drees and Jackman.

Since this blog has aspirations beyond Texas, here is a link to scorpions in other parts of the nation. 

Here is a link to scorpions of Europe. I imagine them as desert creatures, but it seems that is not fully the case. There are 25 types of scorpion in Europe.

Coming back to Texas, another thing you’ll find in the Lone Star state is the blog Lubbock Left. I’ve never been to Lubbock. I do know that it is a quite conservative place. I think anybody fighting for the left side of the aisle in Lubbock merits support.  Especially the friendly folks running that fine blog.

Lastly, and I admit this post is a hodgepodge, here is a stanza from the Gary Snyder poem Milton by Firelight that mentions the scorpion.

In ten thousand years the Sierras

Will be dry and dead, home of the scorpion.

Ice-scratched slabs and bent trees.

No paradise, no fall,

Only the weathering land

The wheeling sky

Man, with his Satan

Scouring the chaos of the mind.

Oh Hell!  

Here is a link to the entire poem.

December 3, 2007 Posted by | Blogging, Books, Poetry, Politics, Sea Life, Texas | , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments