USA, 2016


Lightning and thunder roused me very early; I took advantage of the solitary time to consider a character, an entirely fictional character, who wandered in, made a cup of tea, and sat down to tell me her unlikely story.  Not too unlikely, possibly quite amusing, in some ways, at least. I’ll see what she has to say.  Then, contemplating our political circumstances, my gorge rose (as whose would not?) and I muttered to myself, “Coolidge, thou shouldst be living in this hour.” Upon consideration, we may need even stronger medicine, though “Washington” doesn’t fit the meter as well. Washington’s response to Trilllary might have been condign, swift, and permanent. But it’s worth repeating the original poem, for our recollection.

MILTON! thou shouldst be living at this hour:
England hath need of thee: she is a fen
Of stagnant waters: altar, sword, and pen,
Fireside, the heroic wealth of hall and bower,
Have forfeited their ancient English dower
Of inward happiness. We are selfish men;
O raise us up, return to us again,
And give us manners, virtue, freedom, power!
Thy soul was like a Star, and dwelt apart;
Thou hadst a voice whose sound was like the sea:
Pure as the naked heavens, majestic, free,
So didst thou travel on life’s common way,
In cheerful godliness; and yet thy heart
The lowliest duties on herself did lay.

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