Poetry Friday:

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Poetry Friday all red, whie, and blue is at My Little Juicy Universe.

Happy Fourth of July. I discovered this poem by Ralph Waldo Emerson, born the same year as when Lewis and Clark left to search for the Northwest Passage. It seems a fitting poem for today.

A Nation’s Strength

Ralph Waldo Emerson, 1803 – 1882

What makes a nation’s pillars high
And its foundations strong?
What makes it mighty to defy
The foes that round it throng?

It is not gold. Its kingdoms grand
Go down in battle shock;
Its shafts are laid on sinking sand,
Not on abiding rock.

Is it the sword? Ask the red dust
Of empires passed away;
The blood has turned their stones to rust,
Their glory to decay.

And is it pride? Ah, that bright crown
Has seemed to nations sweet;
But God has struck its luster down
In ashes at his feet.

Not gold but only men can make
A people great and strong;
Men who for truth and honor’s sake
Stand fast and suffer long.

Brave men who work while others sleep,
Who dare while others fly…
They build a nation’s pillars deep
And lift them to the sky.

I’m at friends in Idaho, my place to be on this holiday. Small town parade, a picnic in the park, and fireworks tonight. Have a wonderful weekend.
Happy Friday.
Happy poetry.

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7 thoughts on “Poetry Friday:

  1. This is my favorite stanza today:

    Is it the sword? Ask the red dust
    Of empires passed away;
    The blood has turned their stones to rust,
    Their glory to decay.

  2. On this day, and others, I am so appreciative of all those who keep us safe from many things: “Brave men who work while others sleep,” sometimes just the hard things in society we don’t see. I hope you have a wonderful time in Idaho, Jone.

  3. I’m thinking especially of these folks today:
    Men who for truth and honor’s sake
    Stand fast and suffer long.
    Interesting to think of Emerson’s birth juxtaposed with the launch of the Corps of Discovery – so many resonances there. Have a wonderful Fourth in Idaho, Jone – it sounds so old-timey and fun!

  4. “The red dust/ of empires passed away” – that’s for sure – so goes empire, and I hope we can adjust to that. Hope you have a wonderful time with your family in Idaho, Jone. Happy 4th!

  5. Hi, Jone–
    Forgive me…I enjoyed reading this poem, and its fundamental sentiment, but I just can’t get around the MENliness of it and others of its time. I fear that MEN have joined gold, sword and pride on the list of things that don’t make a nation strong….

    Hope you enjoyed your small-town Fourth!

  6. Small town parade sounds like so much fun. I smiled at Heidi’s comment above. 🙂 Emerson did live in a radically different time. 🙂

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