7.21.2017 Doc of the Day

1. Robert Burns, 1780, 1781.
2. Albert Lutuli, 1961.
3. Paul Wellstone, 2003.
4. Alexander Cockburn, 2012.
5. Tim Miller, 2016.
CC BY by tycobass

Numero Uno” What you may think of this letter when you see the name that subscribes it I cannot know; and perhaps I ought to make a long preface of apologies for the freedom I am going to take; but as my heart means no offence, but, on the contrary, is rather too warmly interested in your favour,—for that reason I hope you will forgive me when I tell you that I most sincerely and affectionately love you.  I am a stranger in these matters, A—-, as I assure you that you are the first woman to whom I ever made such a declaration; so I declare I am at a loss how to proceed.I have more than once come into your company with a resolution to say what I have just now told you; but my resolution always failed me, and even now my heart trembles for the consequence of what I have said.  I hope, my dear A——, you will not despise me because I am ignorant of the flattering arts of courtship: I hope my inexperience of the work will plead for me.  I can only say I sincerely love you, and there is nothing on earth I so ardently wish for, or that could possibly give me so much happiness, as one day to see you mine.

I think you cannot doubt my sincerity, as I am sure that whenever I see you my very looks betray me: and when once you are convinced I am sincere, I am perfectly certain you have too much goodness and humanity to allow an honest man to languish in suspense only because he loves you too well.  And I am certain that in such a state of anxiety as I myself at present feel, an absolute denial would be a much preferable state. …

MY DEAR E.,—I do not remember, in the course of your acquaintance and mine, ever to have heard your opinion on the ordinary way of falling in love, amongst people in our station in life; I do not mean the persons who proceed in the way of bargain, but those whose affection is really placed on the person.

Though I be, as you know very well, but a very awkward lover myself, yet, as I have some opportunities of observing the conduct of others who are much better skilled in the affair of courtship than I am, I often think it is owing to lucky chance, more than to good management, that there are not more unhappy marriages than usually are.

It is natural for a young fellow to like the acquaintance of the females, and customary for him to keep them company when occasion serves; some one of them is more agreeable to him than the rest; there is something, he knows not what, pleases him, he knows not how, in her company. This I take to be what is called love with the greater part of us; and I must own, my dear E., it is a hard game such a one as you have to play when you meet with such a lover. You cannot refuse but he is sincere, and yet though you use him ever so favourably, perhaps in a few months, or at farthest in a year or two, the same unaccountable fancy may make him as distractedly fond of another, whilst you are quite forgot. I am aware that perhaps the next time I have the pleasure of seeing you, you may bid me take my own lesson home, and tell me that the passion I have professed for you is perhaps one of those transient flashes I have been describing; but I hope, my dear E., you will do me the justice to believe me, when I assure you that the love I have for you is founded on the sacred principles of virtue and honour, and by consequence so long as you continue possessed of those amiable qualities which first inspired my passion for you, so long must I continue to love you. Believe me, my dear, it is love like this alone which can render the marriage state happy. People may talk of flames and raptures as long as they please, and a warm fancy, with a flow of youthful spirits, may make them feel something like what they describe; but sure I am the nobler faculties of the mind with kindred feelings of the heart can only be the foundation of friendship, and it has always been my opinion that the married life was only friendship in a more exalted degree.

If you will be so good as to grant my wishes, and it should please Providence to spare us to the latest periods of life, I can look forward and see that, even then, though bent down with wrinkled age—even then, when all other worldly circumstances will be indifferent to me, I will regard my E. with the tenderest affection, and for this plain reason, because she is still possessed of those noble qualities, improved to a much higher degree, which first inspired my affection for her.
O! happy state, when souls each other draw,
Where love is liberty, and nature law.

I know, were I to speak in such a style to many a girl, who thinks herself possessed of no small share of sense, she would think it ridiculous—but the language of the heart is, my dear E., the only courtship I shall ever use to you.

When I look over what I have written, I am sensible it is vastly different from the ordinary style of courtship—but I shall make no apology—I know your good nature will excuse what your good sense may see amiss. …

I verily believe, my dear E., that the pure genuine feelings of love are as rare in the world as the pure genuine principles of virtue and piety. This, I hope, will account for the uncommon style of all my letters to you. By uncommon, I mean their being written in such a serious manner, which, to tell you the truth, has made me often afraid lest you should take me for some zealous bigot, who conversed with his mistress as he would converse with his minister. I don’t know how it is, my dear; for though, except your company, there is nothing on earth gives me so much pleasure as writing to you, yet it never gives me those giddy raptures so much talked of among lovers. I have often thought, that if a well-grounded affection be not really a part of virtue, ’tis something extremely akin to it. Whenever the thought of my E. warms my heart, every feeling of humanity, every principle of generosity, kindles in my breast. It extinguishes every dirty spark of malice and envy, which are but too apt to infest me. I grasp every creature in the arms of universal benevolence, and equally participate in the pleasures of the happy, and sympathise with the miseries of the unfortunate. I assure you, my dear, I often look up to the Divine disposer of events with an eye of gratitude for the blessing which I hope He intends to bestow on me, in bestowing you. I sincerely wish that He may bless my endeavours to make your life as comfortable and happy as possible, both in sweetening the rougher parts of my natural temper, and bettering the unkindly circumstances of my fortune. This, my dear, is a passion, at least in my view, worthy of a man, and, I will add, worthy of a Christian. The sordid earth-worm may profess love to a woman’s person, whilst, in reality, his affection is centred in her pocket; and the slavish drudge may go a-wooing as he goes to the horse-market, to choose one who is stout and firm, and as we say of an old horse, one who will be a good drudge and draw kindly. I disdain their dirty, puny ideas. I would be heartily out of humour with myself, if I thought I were capable of having so poor a notion of the sex, which were designed to crown the pleasures of society. Poor devils! I don’t envy them their happiness who have such notions. For my part, I propose quite other pleasures with my dear partner. …

MY DEAR E.,—I have often thought it a peculiarly unlucky circumstance in love, that though, in every other situation in life, telling the truth is not only the safest, but actually by far the easiest way of proceeding, a lover is never under greater difficulty in acting, or more puzzled for expression, than when his passion is sincere, and his intentions are honourable. I do not think that it is very difficult for a person of ordinary capacity to talk of love and fondness which are not felt, and to make vows of constancy and fidelity which are never intended to be performed, if he be villain enough to practice such detestable conduct; but to a man whose heart glows with the principles of integrity and truth, and who sincerely loves a woman of amiable person, uncommon refinement of sentiment, and purity of manners—to such a one, in such circumstances, I can assure you, my dear, from my own feelings at this present moment, courtship is a task indeed. There is such a number of foreboding fears and distrustful anxieties crowd into my mind when I am in your company, or when I sit down to write to you, that what to speak or what to write, I am altogether at a loss.

There is one rule which I have hitherto practised, and which I shall invariably keep with you, and that is, honestly to tell you the plain truth. There is something so mean and unmanly in the arts of dissimulation and falsehood, that I am surprised they can be used by any one in so noble, so generous a passion as virtuous love. No, my dear E., I shall never endeavour to gain your favour by such detestable practices. If you will be so good and so generous as to admit me for your partner, your companion, your bosom friend through life, there is nothing on this side of eternity shall give me greater transport; but I shall never think of purchasing your hand by any arts unworthy of a man, and, I will add, of a Christian. There is one thing, my dear, which I earnestly request of you, and it is this: that you would soon either put an end to my hopes by a peremptory refusal, or cure me of my fears by a generous consent.

It would oblige me much if you would send me a line or two when convenient. I shall only add, further, that if behaviour, regulated (though perhaps but very imperfectly) by the rules of honour and virtue, if a heart devoted to love and esteem you, and an earnest endeavour to promote your happiness; if these are qualities you would wish in a friend, in a husband, I hope you shall ever find them in your real friend and sincere lover. …

I ought, in good manners, to have acknowledged the receipt of your letter before this time, but my heart was so shocked with the contents of it, that I can scarcely yet collect my thoughts so as to write you on the subject.  I will not attempt to describe what I felt on receiving your letter.  I read it over and over, again and again, and though it was in the politest language of refusal, still it was peremptory; ‘you were sorry you could not make me a return, but you wish me’ what, without you, I never can obtain, ‘you wish me all kind of happiness.’  It would be weak and unmanly to say that without you I never can be happy; but sure I am, that sharing life with you would have given it a relish, that, wanting you, I can never taste.

Your uncommon personal advantages, and your superior good sense, do not so much strike me; these, possibly, in a few instances may be met with in others; but that amiable goodness, that tender feminine softness, that endearing sweetness of disposition, with all the charming offspring of a warm feeling heart—these I never again expect to meet with, in such a degree, in this world.  All these charming qualities, heightened by an education much beyond anything I have ever met in any woman I ever dared to approach, have made an impression on my heart that I do not think the world can ever efface.  My imagination has fondly flattered myself with a wish, I dare not say it ever reached a hope, that possibly I might one day call you mine.  I had formed the most delightful images, and my fancy fondly brooded over them; but now I am wretched for the loss of what I really had no right to expect.  I must now think no more of you as a mistress; still I presume to ask to be admitted as a friend.  As such I wish to be allowed to wait on you, and as I expect to remove in a few days a little further off, and you, I suppose, will soon leave this place, I wish to see or hear from you soon; and if an expression should perhaps escape me, rather too warm for friendship, I hope you will pardon it in, my dear Miss—, (pardon me the dear expression for once) R. B.”     Robert Burns, The Letters of Robert Burns; a selection of love letters from 1780-81

Zulu attackgutt africa

Numero Dos“In years gone by, some of the greatest men of our century have stood here to receive this award, men whose names and deeds have enriched the pages of human history, men whom future generations will regard as having shaped the world of our time.  No one could be left unmoved at being plucked from the village of Groutville, a name many of you have never heard before and which does not even feature on many maps – to be plucked from banishment in a rural backwater, to be lifted out of the narrow confines of South Africa’s internal politics and placed here in the shadow of these great figures.  It is a great honor to me to stand on this rostrum where many of the great men of our times have stood before. The Nobel Peace Award that has brought me here has for me a threefold significance.  On the one hand, it is a tribute to my humble contribution to efforts by democrats on both sides of the color line to find a peaceful solution to the race problem.  This contribution is not in any way unique.  I did not initiate the struggle to extend the area of human freedom in South Africa; other African patriots – devoted men – did so before me.  I also, as a Christian and patriot, could not look on while systematic attempts were made, almost in every department of life, to debase the God-factor in man or to set a limit beyond which the human being in his black form might not strive to serve his Creator to the best of his ability.  To remain neutral in a situation where the laws of the land virtually criticized God for having created men of color was the sort of thing I could not, as a Christian, tolerate.

On the other hand, the award is a democratic declaration of solidarity with those who fight to widen the area of liberty in my part of the world.  As such, it is the sort of gesture which gives me and millions who think as I do, tremendous encouragement.  There are still people in the world today who regard South Africa’s race problem as a simple clash between black and white.  Our government has carefully projected this image of the problem before the eyes of the world.  This has had two effects.  It has confused the real issues at stake in the race crisis.  It has given some form of force to the government’s contention that the race problem is a domestic matter for South Africa.  This, in turn, has tended to narrow down the area over which our case could be better understood in the world.

From yet another angle, it is welcome recognition of the role played by the African people during the last fifty years to establish, peacefully, a society in which merit and not race would fix the position of the individual in the life of the nation.

This award could not be for me alone, nor for just South Africa, but for Africa as a whole. Africa presently is most deeply torn with strife and most bitterly stricken with racial conflict. How strange then it is that a man of Africa should be here to receive an award given for service to the cause of peace and brotherhood between men. There has been little peace in Africa in our time. From the northernmost end of our continent, where war has raged for seven years, to the center and to the south there are battles being fought out, some with arms, some without? In my own country, in the year 1960, for which this award is given, there was a state of emergency for many months. At Sharpeville, a small village, in a single afternoon sixtynine people were shot dead and 180 wounded by small arms fire3; and in parts like the Transkei4, a state of emergency is still continuing. Ours is a continent in revolution against oppression. And peace and revolution make uneasy bedfellows. There can be no peace until the forces of oppression are overthrown.

Our continent has been carved up by the great powers; alien governments have been forced upon the African people by military conquest and by economic domination; strivings for nationhood and national dignity have been beaten down by force; traditional economics and ancient customs have been disrupted, and human skills and energy have been harnessed for the advantage of our conquerors. In these times there has been no peace; there could be no brotherhood between men.

But now, the revolutionary stirrings of our continent are setting the past aside. Our people everywhere from north to south of the continent are reclaiming their land, their right to participate in government, their dignity as men, their nationhood. Thus, in the turmoil of revolution, the basis for peace and brotherhood in Africa is being restored by the resurrection of national sovereignty and independence, of equality and the dignity of man.

It should not be difficult for you here in Europe to appreciate this. Your continent passed through a longer series of revolutionary upheavals, in which your age of feudal backwardness gave way to the new age of industrialization, true nationhood, democracy, and rising living standards – the golden age for which men have striven for generations. Your age of revolution, stretching across all the years from the eighteenth century to our own, encompassed some of the bloodiest civil wars in all history. By comparison, the African revolution has swept across three quarters of the continent in less than a decade; its final completion is within sight of our own generation. Again, by comparison with Europe, our African revolution – to our credit – is proving to be orderly, quick, and comparatively bloodless.

This fact of the relative peacefulness of our African revolution is attested to by other observers of eminence. Professor C.W. de Kiewiet, president of the University of Rochester, U.S.A., in a Hoernlé Memorial Lecture for 1960, has this to say: “There has, it is true, been almost no serious violence in the achievement of political self-rule. In that sense there is no revolution in Africa – only reform…”

Professor D.V. Cowen, then professor of comparative law at the University of Cape Town, South Africa, in a Hoernlé Memorial Lecture for 1961, throws light on the nature of our struggle in the following words: “They (the Whites in South Africa) are again fortunate in the very high moral caliber of the non-White inhabitants of South Africa, who compare favorably with any on the whole continent.” Let this never be forgotten by those who so eagerly point a finger of scorn at Africa.

Perhaps, by your standards, our surge to revolutionary reforms is late. If it is so – if we are late in joining the modern age of social enlightenment, late in gaining self-rule, independence, and democracy, it is because in the past the pace has not been set by us. Europe set the pattern for the nineteenth and twentieth-century development of Africa. Only now is our continent coming into its own and recapturing its own fate from foreign rule.

Though I speak of Africa as a single entity, it is divided in many ways by race, language, history, and custom; by political, economic, and ethnic frontiers. But in truth, despite these multiple divisions, Africa has a single common purpose and a single goal – the achievement of its own independence. All Africa, both lands which have won their political victories but have still to overcome the legacy of economic backwardness, and lands like my own whose political battles have still to be waged to their conclusion – all Africa has this single aim: our goal is a united Africa in which the standards of life and liberty are constantly expanding; in which the ancient legacy of illiteracy and disease is swept aside; in which the dignity of man is rescued from beneath the heels of colonialism which have trampled it. This goal, pursued by millions of our people with revolutionary zeal, by means of books, representations, demonstrations, and in some places armed force provoked by the adamancy of white rule, carries the only real promise of peace in Africa. Whatever means have been used, the efforts have gone to end alien rule and race oppression.

There is a paradox in the fact that Africa qualifies for such an award in its age of turmoil and revolution. How great is the paradox and how much greater the honor that an award in support of peace and the brotherhood of man should come to one who is a citizen of a country where the brotherhood of man is an illegal doctrine, outlawed, banned, censured, proscribed and prohibited; where to work, talk, or campaign for the realization in fact and deed of the brotherhood of man is hazardous, punished with banishment, or confinement without trial, or imprisonment; where effective democratic channels to peaceful settlement of the race problem have never existed these 300 years; and where white minority power rests on the most heavily armed and equipped military machine in Africa. This is South Africa.

Even here, where white rule seems determined not to change its mind for the better, the spirit of Africa’s militant struggle for liberty, equality, and independence asserts itself. I, together with thousands of my countrymen have in the course of the struggle for these ideals, been harassed and imprisoned, but we are not deterred in our quest for a new age in which we shall live in peace and in brotherhood.

It is not necessary for me to speak at length about South Africa; its social system, its politics, its economics, and its laws have forced themselves on the attention of the world. It is a museum piece in our time, a hangover from the dark past of mankind, a relic of an age which everywhere else is dead or dying. Here the cult of race superiority and of white supremacy is worshiped like a god. Few white people escape corruption, and many of their children learn to believe that white men are unquestionably superior, efficient, clever, industrious, and capable; that black men are, equally unquestionably, inferior, slothful, stupid, evil, and clumsy. On the basis of the mythology that “the lowest amongst them is higher than the highest amongst us”, it is claimed that white men build everything that is worthwhile in the country – its cities, its industries, its mines, and its agriculture and that they alone are thus fitted and entitled as of right to own and control these things, while black men are only temporary sojourners in these cities, fitted only for menial labor, and unfit to share political power. The prime minister of South Africa, Dr. Verwoerd5, then minister of Bantu Affairs, when explaining his government’s policy on African education had this to say: “There is no place for him (the African) in the European community above the level of certain forms of labor.”

There is little new in this mythology. Every part of Africa which has been subject to white conquest has, at one time or another and in one guise or another, suffered from it, even in its virulent form of the slavery that obtained in Africa up to the nineteenth century. The mitigating feature in the gloom of those far-off days was the shaft of light sunk by Christian missions, a shaft of light to which we owe our initial enlightenment. With successive governments of the time doing little or nothing to ameliorate the harrowing suffering of the black man at the hands of slave drivers, men like Dr. David Livingstone6 and Dr. John Philip7 and other illustrious men of God stood for social justice in the face of overwhelming odds. It is worth noting that the names I have referred to are still anathema to some South Africans. Hence the ghost of slavery lingers on to this day in the form of forced labor that goes on in what are called farm prisons. But the tradition of Livingstone and Philip lives on, perpetuated by a few of their line. It is fair to say that even in present-day conditions, Christian missions have been in the vanguard of initiating social services provided for us. Our progress in this field has been in spite of, and not mainly because of, the government. In this, the church in South Africa, though belatedly, seems to be awakening to a broader mission of the church in its ministry among us. It is beginning to take seriously the words of its Founder who said: “I came that they might have life and have it more abundantly.”8 This is a call to the church in South Africa to help in the all-round development of man in the present, and not only in the hereafter. In this regard, the people of South Africa, especially those who claim to be Christians, would be well advised to take heed of the Conference decisions of the World Council of Churches held at Cottesloe, Johannesburg, in 1960, which gave a clear lead on the mission of the church in our day9. It left no room for doubt about the relevancy of the Christian message in the present issues that confront mankind. I note with gratitude this broader outlook of the World Council of Churches. It has a great meaning and significance for us in Africa.

There is nothing new in South Africa’s apartheid ideas, but South Africa is unique in this: the ideas not only survive in our modern age but are stubbornly defended, extended, and bolstered up by legislation at the time when, in the major part of the world, they are now largely historical and are either being shamefacedly hidden behind concealing formulations or are being steadily scrapped. These ideas survive in South Africa because those who sponsor them profit from them. They provide moral whitewash for the conditions which exist in the country: for the fact that the country is ruled exclusively by a white government elected by an exclusively white electorate which is a privileged minority; for the fact that eighty-seven percent of the land and all the best agricultural land within reach of town, market, and railways are reserved for white ownership and occupation, and now through the recent Group Areas legislation10 nonwhites are losing more land to white greed; for the fact that all skilled and highly paid jobs are for whites only; for the fact that all universities of any academic merit are exclusively preserves of whites; for the fact that the education of every white child costs about £64 per year while that of an African child costs about £9 per year and that of an Indian child or colored child costs about £20 per year; for the fact that white education is universal and compulsory up to the age of sixteen, while education for the nonwhite children is scarce and inadequate; and for the fact that almost one million Africans a year are arrested and jailed or fined for breaches of innumerable pass and permit laws, which do not apply to whites.

I could carry on in this strain and talk on every facet of South African life from the cradle to the grave. But these facts today are becoming known to all the world. A fierce spotlight of world attention has been thrown on them. Try as our government and its apologists will, with honeyed words about “separate development” and eventual “independence” in so-called “Bantu homelands”11, nothing can conceal the reality of South African conditions. I, as a Christian, have always felt that there is one thing above all about “apartheid” or “separate development” that is unforgivable. It seems utterly indifferent to the suffering of individual persons, who lose their land, their homes, their jobs, in the pursuit of what is surely the most terrible dream in the world. This terrible dream is not held on to by a crackpot group on the fringe of society or by Ku Klux Klansmen12, of whom we have a sprinkling. It is the deliberate policy of a government, supported actively by a large part of the white population and tolerated passively by an overwhelming white majority, but now fortunately rejected by an encouraging white minority who have thrown their lot with nonwhites, who are overwhelmingly opposed to so-called separate development.

Thus it is that the golden age of Africa’s independence is also the dark age of South Africa’s decline and retrogression, brought about by men who, when revolutionary changes that entrenched fundamental human rights were taking place in Europe, were closed in on the tip of South Africa – and so missed the wind of progressive change.

In the wake of that decline and retrogression, bitterness between men grows to alarming heights; the economy declines as confidence ebbs away; unemployment rises; government becomes increasingly dictatorial and intolerant of constitutional and legal procedures, increasingly violent and suppressive; there is a constant drive for more policemen, more soldiers, more armaments, banishments without trial, and penal whippings. All the trappings of medieval backwardness and cruelty come to the fore. Education is being reduced to an instrument of subtle indoctrination; slanted and biased reporting in the organs of public information, a creeping censorship, book banning, and blacklisting – all these spread their shadows over the land. This is South Africa today, in the age of Africa’s greatness.

But beneath the surface there is a spirit of defiance. The people of South Africa have never been a docile lot, least of all the African people. We have a long tradition of struggle for our national rights, reaching back to the very beginnings of white settlement and conquest 300 years ago. Our history is one of opposition to domination, of protest and refusal to submit to tyranny. Consider some of our great names: the great warrior and nation builder Shaka, who welded tribes together into the Zulu nation from which I spring; Moshoeshoe, the statesman and nation-builder who fathered the Basuto nation and placed Basutoland beyond the reach of the claws of the South African whites; Hintsa of the Xosas, who chose death rather than surrender his territory to white invaders13. All these and other royal names, as well as other great chieftains, resisted manfully white intrusion. Consider also the sturdiness of the stock that nurtured the foregoing great names. I refer to our forbears, who, in trekking from the north to the southernmost tip of Africa centuries ago, braved rivers that are perennially swollen; hacked their way through treacherous jungle and forest; survived the plagues of the then untamed lethal diseases of a multifarious nature that abounded in Equatorial Africa; and wrested themselves from the gaping mouths of the beasts of prey. They endured it all. They settled in these parts of Africa to build a future worthwhile for us, their offspring. While the social and political conditions have changed and the problems we face are different, we too, their progeny, find ourselves facing a situation where we have to struggle for our very survival as human beings. Although methods of struggle may differ from time to time, the universal human strivings for liberty remain unchanged. We, in our situation, have chosen the path of non-violence of our own volition. Along this path we have organized many heroic campaigns. All the strength of progressive leadership in South Africa, all my life and strength, have been given to the pursuance of this method, in an attempt to avert disaster in the interests of South Africa, and [we] have bravely paid the penalties for it.

It may well be that South Africa’s social system is a monument to racialism and race oppression, but its people are the living testimony to the unconquerable spirit of mankind. Down the years, against seemingly overwhelming odds, they have sought the goal of fuller life and liberty, striving with incredible determination and fortitude for the right to live as men – free men. In this, our country is not unique. Your recent and inspiring history, when the Axis powers overran most European states, is testimony of this unconquerable spirit of mankind. People of Europe formed resistance movements that finally helped to break the power of the combination of Nazism and Fascism, with their creed of race arrogance and Herrenvolk mentality.

Every people has, at one time or another in its history, been plunged into such struggle. But generally the passing of time has seen the barriers to freedom going down, one by one. Not so South Africa. Here the barriers do not go down. Each step we take forward, every achievement we chalk up, is cancelled out by the raising of new and higher barriers to our advance. The color bars do not get weaker; they get stronger. The bitterness of the struggle mounts as liberty comes step by step closer to the freedom fighter’s grasp. All too often the protests and demonstrations of our people have been beaten back by force; but they have never been silenced.

Through all this cruel treatment in the name of law and order, our people, with a few exceptions, have remained nonviolent. If today this peace award is given to South Africa through a black man, it is not because we in South Africa have won our fight for peace and human brotherhood. Far from it. Perhaps we stand farther from victory than any other people in Africa. But nothing which we have suffered at the hands of the government has turned us from our chosen path of disciplined resistance. It is for this, I believe, that this award is given.

How easy it would have been in South Africa for the natural feelings of resentment at white domination to have been turned into feelings of hatred and a desire for revenge against the white community. Here, where every day, in every aspect of life every nonwhite comes up against the ubiquitous sign “Europeans Only” and the equally ubiquitous policeman to enforce it – here it could well be expected that a racialism equal to that of their oppressors would flourish to counter the white arrogance toward blacks. That it has not done so is no accident. It is because, deliberately and advisedly, African leadership for the past fifty years, with the inspiration of the African National Congress, which I had the honor to lead for the last decade or so until it was banned, had set itself steadfastly against racial vaingloriousness. We know that in so doing we passed up opportunities for an easy demagogic appeal to the natural passions of a people denied freedom and liberty; we discarded the chance of an easy and expedient emotional appeal. Our vision has always been that of a nonracial, democratic South Africa which upholds the rights of all who live in our country to remain there as fullcitizens, with equal rights and responsibilities with all others. For the consummation of this ideal we have labored unflinchingly. We shall continue to labor unflinchingly.

It is this vision which prompted the African National Congress to invite members of other racial groups who believe with us in the brotherhood of man and in the freedom of all people to join with us in establishing a non-racial, democratic South Africa. Thus the African National Congress in its day brought about the Congress Alliance and welcomed the emergence of the Liberal Party and the Progressive Party, who to an encouraging measure support these ideals.

The true patriots of South Africa, for whom I speak, will be satisfied with nothing less than the fullest democratic rights. In government we will not be satisfied with anything less than direct, individual adult suffrage and the right to stand for and be elected to all organs of government. In economic matters we will be satisfied with nothing less than equality of opportunity in every sphere, and the enjoyment by all of those heritages which form the resources of the country, which up to now have been appropriated on a racial “whites only” basis. In culture we will be satisfied with nothing less than the opening of all doors of learning in non-segregated institutions on the sole criterion of ability. In the social sphere we will be satisfied with nothing less than the abolition of all racial bars. We do not demand these things for people of African descent alone. We demand them for all South Africans, white and black. On these principles we are uncompromising. To compromise would be an expediency that is most treacherous to democracy, for in the turn of events, the sweets of economic, political, and social privileges that are a monopoly of only one section of a community turn sour even in the mouths of those who eat them. Thus apartheid in practice is proving to be a monster created by Frankenstein. That is the tragedy of the South African scene.

Many spurious slogans have been invented in our country in an effort to redeem uneasy race relations – “trusteeship”, “separate development”, “race federation” and elsewhere, “partnership”. These are efforts to sidetrack us from the democratic road, mean delaying tactics that fool no one but the unwary. No euphemistic naming will ever hide their hideous nature. We reject these policies because they do not measure up to the best mankind has striven for throughout the ages; they do great offense to man’s sublime aspirations that have remained true in a sea of flux and change down the ages, aspirations of which the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights14 is a culmination. This is what we stand for. This is what we fight for.

In their fight for lasting values, there are many things that have sustained the spirit of the freedom – loving people of South Africa and those in the yet unredeemed parts of Africa where the white man claims resolutely proprietary rights over democracy – a universal heritage. High among them – the things that have sustained us – stand: the magnificent support of the progressive people and governments throughout the world, among whom number the people and government of the country of which I am today guest; our brothers in Africa, especially in the independent African states; organizations who share the outlook we embrace in countries scattered right across the face of the globe; the United Nations Organization jointly and some of its member nations singly. In their defense of peace in the world through actively upholding the quality of man, all these groups have reinforced our undying faith in the unassailable rightness and justness of our cause. To all of them I say: Alone we would have been weak. Our heartfelt appreciation of your acts of support of us we cannot adequately express, nor can we ever forget, now or in the future when victory is behind us and South Africa’s freedom rests in the hands of all her people.

We South Africans, however, equally understand that, much as others might do for us, our freedom cannot come to us as a gift from abroad. Our freedom we must make ourselves. All honest freedom-loving people have dedicated themselves to that task. What we need is the courage that rises with danger.

Whatever may be the future of our freedom efforts, our cause is the cause of the liberation of people who are denied freedom. Only on this basis can the peace of Africa and the world be firmly founded. Our cause is the cause of equality between nations and peoples. Only thus can the brotherhood of man be firmly established. It is encouraging and elating to remind you that, despite her humiliation and torment at the hands of white rule, the spirit of Africa in quest for freedom has been, generally, for peaceful means to the utmost.

If I have dwelt at length on my country’s race problem, it is not as though other countries on our continent do not labor under these problems, but because it is here in the Republic of South Africa that the race problem is most acute. Perhaps in no other country on the continent is white supremacy asserted with greater vigor and determination and a sense of righteousness. This places the opponents of apartheid in the front rank of those who fight white domination.

In bringing my address to a close, let me invite Africa to cast her eyes beyond the past and to some extent the present, with their woes and tribulations, trials and failures, and some successes, and see herself an emerging continent, bursting to freedom through the shell of centuries of serfdom. This is Africa’s age – the dawn of her fulfillment, yes, the moment when she must grapple with destiny to reach the summits of sublimity, saying: Ours was a fight for noble values and worthy ends, and not for lands and the enslavement of man.

Africa is a vital subject matter in the world of today, a focal point of world interest and concern. Could it not be that history has delayed her rebirth for a purpose? The situation confronts her with inescapable challenges, but more importantly with opportunities for service to herself and mankind. She evades the challenges and neglects the opportunities, to her shame, if not her doom. How she sees her destiny is a more vital and rewarding quest than bemoaning her past, with its humiliations and sufferings.

The address could do no more than pose some questions and leave it to the African leaders and peoples to provide satisfying answers and responses by their concern for higher values and by their noble actions that could be

Footprints on the sands of time.
Footprints, that perhaps another,
Sailing o’er life’s solemn main,
A forlorn and shipwrecked brother,
Seeing, shall take heart again.15

Still licking the scars of past wrongs perpetrated on her, could she not be magnanimous and practice no revenge? Her hand of friendship scornfully rejected, her pleas for justice and fair play spurned, should she not nonetheless seek to turn enmity into amity? Though robbed of her lands, her independence, and opportunities – this, oddly enough, often in the name of civilization and even Christianity – should she not see her destiny as being that of making a distinctive contribution to human progress and human relationships with a peculiar new Africa flavor enriched by the diversity of cultures she enjoys, thus building on the summits of present human achievement an edifice that would be one of the finest tributes to the genius of man?

She should see this hour of her fulfillment as a challenge to her to labor on until she is purged of racial domination, and as an opportunity of reassuring the world that her national aspiration lies not in overthrowing white domination to replace it by a black caste but in building a nonracial democracy that shall be a monumental brotherhood, a “brotherly community” with none discriminated against on grounds of race or color.

What of the many pressing and complex political, economic, and cultural problems attendant upon the early years of a newly independent state?  These, and others which are the legacy of colonial days, will tax to the limit the statesmanship, ingenuity, altruism, and steadfastness of African leadership and its unbending avowal to democratic tenets in statecraft.  To us all, free or not free, the call of the hour is to redeem the name and honor of Mother Africa.

In a strife-torn world, tottering on the brink of complete destruction by man-made nuclear weapons, a free and independent Africa is in the making, in answer to the injunction and challenge of history: ‘Arise and shine for thy light is come.‘  Acting in concert with other nations, she is man’s last hope for a mediator between the East and West, and is qualified to demand of the great powers to ‘turn the swords into ploughshares’ because two-thirds of mankind is hungry and illiterate; to engage human energy, human skill, and human talent in the service of peace, for the alternative is unthinkable – war, destruction, and desolation; and to build a world community which will stand as a lasting monument to the millions of men and women, to such devoted and distinguished world citizens and fighters for peace as the late Dag Hammarskjöld, who have given their lives that we may live in happiness and peace.

Africa’s qualification for this noble task is incontestable, for her own fight has never been and is not now a fight for conquest of land, for accumulation of wealth or domination of peoples, but for the recognition and preservation of the rights of man and the establishment of a truly free world for a free people.”     Albert Lutuli, “Africa and Freedom;” Noble Peace Prize Lecture, 1961.  

"African Bush Elephant" by Muhammad Mahdi Karim Facebook  -
“African Bush Elephant” by Muhammad Mahdi Karim Facebook –

Numero Tres“A progressive politics is a winning politics, as long as it is not organized in a way that is top-down and elitist.  It must respect the capacity of ordinary citizens and focus on workaday majority issues.I have never understood arguments for the need for politicians to ‘move to the

center’ to get elected.  What is the operational definition of ‘the center?’  If what is meant is that you need to have more votes than your opponent, then I am all forbeing in the center.  But this is too obvious.If what is meant by the center is the dominant mood of the populace — the issues

that are important issues to Americans and what they hope for then I would againargue for the need to occupy the center.  A politics that is not sensitive to the concerns and circumstances of people’s lives, a politics that does not speak to and include people, is an intellectually arrogant politics that deserves to fail.So what is the center?  The empirical evidence is irrefutable.  Seventy-five percent of voters think business has too much influence in Washington.  Seventy-one percent agree that companies that lobby and give political contributions while getting government contracts are taking part in ‘legalized bribery.’  About three quarters of voters believe that at least half the time members of Congress make decisions based on what their contributors want.

Fifty-four percent of voters agree that the “economic boom has not reached

people like [them].” Sixty-one percent believe that the projected budget surplus

should be invested either in education and public schools or in expanded health care

coverage. Just 18 percent prefer an across-the-board tax cut. By a two-to-one mar-

gin, American voters believe that free trade costs more U.S. jobs than it creates.

Fifty-three percent oppose permanent normalization of trade with China. A majority

(52 percent) believes that there should be tougher regulations to “restrain corpora-

tions from moving jobs overseas, polluting the environment and treating workers


When I am in coffee shops with people (these are great focus groups), no one

asks, “Are you left, right, or center?” No one cares. What people want is that your

politics be about them. Tip O’Neill once declared, “All politics is local.” But I

would go further; all politics is personal:

Senator, I am seventy-five years old. My monthly income is six hundred dollars and

my prescription drug costs are three hundred dollars. I can’t afford it. What can I do?”

“Senator, our daughter was anorexic. She was a beautiful girl. She was down to eighty

pounds but the insurance plan would still not approve hospital costs.”

“Senator, I just lost my job. I worked for the company for thirty years. Now I am fifty-

six and have no health care coverage.”

“Senator, I direct a battered women’s shelter. Every thirteen seconds, a woman is bat-

tered in her own home. But though she and her children must leave to be safe, we don’t

have enough beds and shelters for them. We have twice as many animal shelters in our


“Senator, my wife and I both work. Our combined income is thirty-five thousand. We

have two small children, two and four, and child care costs us twelve thousand a year. Is

there any help for us?”

“Senator, I am a child care worker. I love working with small children. But I make, with

a college education, nine dollars an hour, and I don’t have any health care.”

“Senator, I am fifty years old. Should I hold on to our farm and burn up all my equity,

or get out now? Will we get decent prices again? Do I have any future?”

“Senator, my wife and I both work long hours. We have no choice if we are to make a

living. But we hardly ever have time for our kids. It is rare that we even get to have

dinner as a family together.”

“Senator, my parents are in their mid-seventies and declining health. I try to help them.

But is there more help so they can continue to stay at home and not be put in a nursing

home? They will lose everything if they are put in a home.”

“Senator, I love teaching these kids. We are a good inner-city elementary school. We

really are committed to the children. But these children come to school hungry. How can

they learn?”

“Senator, we don’t have the counseling or mental health services to help kids who are

struggling in our rural community.”

“Senator, please get some substance-abuse treatment for this Vietnam veteran. Without

help, he will stay homeless and in bad shape.”

“Senator, both political parties are controlled by the same big interests. They don’t care

about us.”

If you ask people at the Town Talk Cafe in Willmar, Minnesota, how many of

them consider themselves liberals and how many conservatives, the response is about

25 percent to 75 percent. But if you get beyond the labels and probe a little further,

you’ll find that the overwhelming majority can’t stand the pharmaceutical compa-

nies, oil companies, insurance companies, grain companies, and packers. They don’t

like big anything — big government or big corporations. But they want the govern-

ment to be on their side and would agree with Teddy Roosevelt that “government

must make sure that the power of wealth is used for and not against the interests of

the people as a whole.” They believe that government today too often serves the

interests of the already powerful and wealthy.

I think the 1994 elections were all about this populism, as was the election of

Jesse Ventura as governor of Minnesota in 1998.

I should have been able to predict the Gingrich victory in 1994. It was staring me

in the face one night in Wabasha, Minnesota, in mid-February. About one hundred

people crammed into the bowling alley for a town meeting. The overwhelming

sentiment expressed to me in no uncertain terms was, “Senator Wellstone, give us

access to some capital, and get the government out of our way. We are self-

sufficient, self-reliant people.” Small-business owners emphasized that for them the

government was far more a problem than a help. There was too much unreasonable

regulation and not enough reasonable help.

I was in agreement with what I heard — a powerful critique of overly centralized

and overly bureaucratic government policy. As a former community organizer who

spent most of my time trying to empower poor people to make decisions for them-

selves, I believed in their model of economics. It is far better that the men and

women who own businesses live in the community, that the business be locally

owned rather than buffeted by crucial decisions made over martinis halfway across

the country or around the world. The people in Wabasha didn’t say it this way, but

they understood this. They wanted a homegrown economy. They believed in local

entrepreneurship, in self-reliance and self-sufficient communities.

This sentiment, in a different way, was expressed across the country in November

1994. This was a downright anti-establishment, anti-status quo, “throw the rascals

out” election. Democrats were then in the majority, so it was a logical conclusion to

throw them out. Indeed, Newt Gingrich, in a stroke of genius, nationalized the elec-

tions by spreading a message of empowerment to citizens. The election, however,

begged the question of what kind of change people voted for. Speaker Gingrich was

mistaken that Americans supported his harsh agenda.

In 1998, Jesse Ventura, a former professional wrestler, ran for governor of Min-

nesota as a third-party candidate and, in his words, “shocked the world” by defeating

Democrat Skip Humphrey, the son of Hubert H. Humphrey, and Republican Norm

Coleman, the mayor of St. Paul. These two experienced and very capable politicians

didn’t see it coming. I didn’t either, until the last two weeks. He was figuratively

giving the finger to politics as usual. His campaign was populist and brilliant. He

was Minnesotans’ revenge against a politics that they perceived as fake and phony

and dominated by money interests. Minnesotans felt like both parties had it coming

to them, and Ventura, with 37 percent of the vote, won the election.

The people of Minnesota clearly expressed their anger toward politics, an anger

that many Americans share. That does not mean that people do not care what hap-

pens. They care deeply, sometimes desperately. But they also feel that their own

struggles, the cares of their daily lives, are of little concern in the chambers of

power, that whomever they choose will make little difference to them, their loved

ones, and their communities.

This is not a conservative America. These are people who more than anything

else yearn for a politics they can believe in. They want politicians whom they can

trust and who are at least most of the time on their side.

Their voices are not statistics, their fears and hopes are not measured by a con-

sumer price index or gross national product. According to the averages and indica-

tors, this is a prosperous time for our country. It is a time of substantial growth and

low inflation, of a booming stock market and low unemployment. But averages are

we all need to give a little and help one another so we can all get to where we want

to go.

But it is not enough to inspire people with vision and good public policy. We

need the power to make the change. Effective grassroots organizing is the way to get

there. Grassroots organizing involves listening to and lobbying and advocating for

people by going directly to where they live and work. It is the antithesis of big-

money politics. Organizing at the grassroots requires hard and mostly unglamorous

work, easily identifiable goals, and political sophistication. But it can be enormously

effective and successful.

The good news is that there is some great organizing taking place in the country.

Under John Sweeney’s able leadership, the AFL-CIO is committed to “organizing

the unorganized.” It is a different labor organization — no longer just middle-aged

white men lobbying in Washington. They are reaching out to women and people of

color, building coalitions in neighborhoods and communities.

The Service Employees International Union is also leading the way. President

Andy Stein insists that 50 percent of the union’s budget goes to organizing. The

results are dramatic: SEIU successfully organized seventy thousand home health care

workers in Los Angeles. I spent some time visiting these workers during the orga-

nizing drive. They were mainly Latinas who earned little more than six dollars an

hour, with no health care benefits. In very personal terms, they told me (in Spanish)

about their elderly and disabled patients. They were very proud of helping people. I

had to probe to get them to focus on the working conditions, which were deplorable.

Now, a year later, they belong to a union and they make more than ten dollars an

hour, with full health care benefits. Now their work will be valued. This is what the

organizing of the unorganized is all about.

Throughout the labor movement, energy has replaced the old complacency. When

Democrats controlled the Congress for so many years, labor relied on interest-group

politics. If there was a problem, you called the committee or subcommittee, where

you had a long-standing relationship. The grassroots base withered away while the

“Christian right” learned how to mobilize support. They became good at our

forgotten game: voter registration, door knocking, phoning, electing people to

school boards, writing letters to the editor, calling in to talk radio, turning out vot-

ers. Now labor and other progressive organizations must learn from their example.

Right after I was first elected to the Senate, the AFL-CIO organized a “labor

solidarity” march in Washington. Only a few members of Congress joined in

because we weren’t in session at the date chosen. I remember thinking, “Why bring

workers to Washington when Congress is in recess? They need to feel the heat.” But

this huge march wasn’t connected to any fight. Representatives and senators, out of

town, felt no pressure.

At the end of the march, I suggested a follow-up to the AFL-CIO leaders. What

about a “labor solidarity” day in individual states. After all, Washington, D.C., was

too long or expensive a trip for many members, and we could organize some tough

face-to-face accountability sessions with representatives and senators in their home

districts. We could do it all across the country. I might as well have been talking to a

man on the moon.

Contrast this attitude with labor’s march in the other Washington, what became

known as the “battle in Seattle.” It was only eight years later, but these were light-

years for organized labor. Unions focused on organizing and on rank-and-file

member education. They had learned another lesson. Mailings sent out to members

with a list of union-endorsed candidates didn’t cut it. It was time to focus on issues

and education and empower members, armed with information, to make choices.

It was organized labor and the organized environmental community that brought

forty thousand people to Seattle to challenge the World Trade Organization. They

were joined by family farmers, representatives of allied nongovernmental organiza-

tions, members of the human rights community, and students. It was amazing to

hear steelworkers and Teamsters emphasize the environment at their rallies, and to

hear environmental leaders speak at these labor rallies! Steelworkers and environ-

mentalists are a potent coalition. The gathering in Seattle should be viewed with a

sense of history. Good organizing recognizes how institutional changes affect people

and create organizing possibilities, and this work at the end of November 1999 may

prove to be a milestone in this regard.

One hundred years earlier, as the U.S. economy began to shift from local units to

national interests, the country saw wrenching economic times. Labor conditions

were exploitative. Family farmers were driven off their lands. These conditions gave

rise to the’ populist and progressive movements, with a daring set of what at that

time seemed like impossible demands: the right to organize, a forty-hour workweek,

the right of women to vote, direct election of U.S. senators, action against trusts.

The political system was even more dominated by big money than it is now. Labor

organizers were murdered. The media were hostile. Yet these demands, an effort to

civilize an emerging national economy, eventually became the basis of new laws.

The demands in Seattle, made by a populist, progressive coalition led by labor

and environmentalists, are aimed at civilizing an emerging global economy — to

make a global economy work not just for multinational corporations but also for

working people, family farmers, the environment, and human rights. Whether this

coalition will hold is the question. But one thing is certain: Trade policy can never

be discussed again without questions concerning child labor, the right to organize,

the environment, and human rights. The potential exists for new and exciting pro-

gressive coalitions. The adage “Think globally and act locally” is being replaced

with a new wisdom: Act locally and act globally.

It is also heartening to see the success of “living wage” campaigns across our

country, which demand that governments require businesses with whom they do

business to pay a decent wage to their employees. It is an important, new definition

of employment: not just a job but a job paying a reasonable wage with reasonable

benefits as well.

The progressive religious community is also finally finding its voice. People are

building inner city/inner suburb coalitions again, around economic issues: jobs,

housing, transportation to get to the jobs, health care, and education for children.

What is so exciting about this organizing is the emergence of new coalitions. Never

before have these citizens seen their common interests and organized together to

fight for their children and communities.

Public Campaign is also embracing a grassroots approach to reform. This is com-

pletely different from interest-group lobbying in Washington. The premise (with

which I agree) is that comprehensive campaign finance reform cannot be won in

Washington, especially when the system is wired for incumbents who are not that

anxious to change the laws. Rather, a citizen politics has a much better chance of

defeating a money politics at the state level, where progressives can form grassroots


“Clean money, clean elections” victories in Maine, Vermont, Massachusetts, and

Arizona point the way — those states now have voluntary public financing of state

New England Journal of Public Policy

elections. I saw with my own eyes the fascinating energy and coalition of citizens

behind these successful initiatives. In many living rooms, people who had never

known one another, and indeed in the past may have opposed each other, came

together to fight successfully for authentic democracy.

These victories will provide models for and provoke the hopes and aspirations of

citizens in other states. The only cautionary note I would sound about this organiz-

ing concerns the danger of a “deadend localism.” Victories should be won by people

where they live, but if the victories never affect national or international centers of

decision-making power, then we are still not seriously contesting for power. This is

the central challenge for progressive politics: how to build the local victories into a

strong national and international presence that can crucially define the quality of

life. Right now the whole does not equal the sum of the parts. Amazing people have

done so much to make their communities better, but progressives hold little power

on the national level.

Electoral politics is one crucial way we contest for power in America, and

progressives need to get better at it. We tend to be attracted to politics because of the

issues and far less excited by the nuts-and-bolts mechanics of political campaigns,

much less the compromises that are inevitable in those campaigns.

I’ve met hundreds of great young organizers but very few young people who are

campaign managers on any level. Electoral politics seems unsavory — and indeed it

can be, depending on who is involved. The problem is that progressives fail to build

leadership and gain power when we eschew electoral politics. You can be certain that

the “Christian right” develops local leadership and runs candidates for school boards.

Progressives too often don’t. In every state, we need to get serious about developing

leaders — starting with school board, city council, county commissioner, mayoral,

and state legislative races. Money is much less a factor in these races than it is

nationally, and well-organized citizen campaigns can win over and over again.

I am shocked at how little of this work is being done, at how few progressives

there are who have the interest and the skills to manage political campaigns. We

have to figure out a way to engage many more people in electoral politics. If we

build our progressive political leadership, state by state, then we will also be in a

much stronger position to thrust forward candidates for governor and for seats in the

House of Representatives and the Senate. Right now, it is the same-old same-old

approach in the Democratic Party. I thought it was bad in 1990 when I first ran for

Senate, but it has gotten even worse. The DSCC is focused almost totally on

whether a candidate is wealthy, already has power and status, or has access to big

bucks. These criteria are not likely to produce many progressives focused on popu-

list and economic-justice issues. A few might slip through, but they will be excep-


It can be an alienating experience to attend a Democratic Party luncheon focused

on upcoming Senate races. Too much of the time is spent on fund-raising, and when

I hear the DSCC report on candidates, it is the usual conventional wisdom about

who can win and why, and who can’t.

Bernard “B” Rappaport, a very wealthy contributor to the Democratic Party and

Democratic candidates, was recently honored at a DSCC dinner. Different senators

spoke in glowing terms about B, and then it was his turn. He started out by saying,

“I am scared to death. I’m wondering what all this is going to cost me.” There was a good-humored, not cynical, laugh by all in the room. He then spoke for one more minute (usually B is quite a talker). He said, “I know all of you, and you are all good people. But I know that often you don’t vote what you really believe in. I am eighty years old, and my wish is for the Democratic Party to get back to principles and to really stand for something.”

This is my wish as well. But it is not going to happen on present course. We need

to build not a third party but an independent political force that does a lot of orga-

nizing within the Democratic Party — especially candidate recruitment and elec-

tions. This new political force must introduce fresh perspectives into the political

dialogue of our country; recruit candidates; provide the training, skills, and re-

sources for winning campaigns; build an infrastructure of field directors and cam-

paign managers; have a savvy media presence; apply effective grassroots organizing

to electoral politics; and build political leadership at the local, state, and federal

levels of government.

There is a wave of social activism on our campuses today, more than I’ve seen in

the past fifteen years.  But most of these students are not joining the Young Democrats.  I went to a very poignant neighborhood meeting in Minneapolis, with more than one hundred people crammed into a home.  Almost all of the people there were under thirty.  Most were professionals.  Their exclusive focus was on issues: education, health care, housing, the environment, and community service.  They had little interest in politics as usually defined — candidates, political parties, and elections.  They were incredibly bright and thoughtful, but as it stands they will not be future political leaders.  Which is why politics as usual shouldn’t work any longer.  An independent progressive politics, combining intellectual integrity, grassroots organizing, and electoral politics, is a force whose time has come.I intend to work with progressives around the country to make this happen.  Always, with a twinkle in my eye, I will represent the Democratic wing of theDemocratic Party.But regardless of what I decide to do in the future, I will remain actively engaged

and committed to the issues and causes outlined here.  I have dedicated my life to the cause of economic justice and equality of opportunity for all Americans.  The famous abolitionist Wendell Phillips was once asked, ‘Wendell, why are youso on fire?’He responded, ‘I’m on fire because I have mountains of ice before me to melt.’

So do we.”     Paul Wellstone, “A Winning Progressive Politics;” New England Journal of Public Policy, 2003.  

Numero Cuatro“Retired Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, bounced out of his job for revels in Paris as witnessed by Rolling Stone, has recycled a perennial chestnut: Bring back the draft — i.e., a conscripted military, not the volunteer military of today.These days, McChrystal teaches at Yale University with what must be a protection unique in the annals of academic freedom.  Everything he tells his students is, by contractual agreement, off the record.  But he made his proposal about the draft in a public venue, at the 2012 Aspen Ideas Festival.  McChrystal said: ‘I think we ought to have a draft.  I think if a nation goes to war, it shouldn’t be solely represented by a professional force, because it gets to be unrepresentative of the population.  I think if a nation goes to war, every town, every city needs to be at risk.  You make that decision and everybody has skin in the game.’

It’s certainly true that the volunteer military is a mess. The Associated Press reported recently that suicides are surging among the troops. According to the AP, “the 154 suicides for active-duty troops in the first 155 days of the year far outdistance the U.S. forces killed in action in Afghanistan.” The volunteer military struggles with increased sexual assaults, alcohol abuse and domestic violence.

Liberals like the idea of a military draft because they think it would curb any president’s eagerness to go to war. There are indeed sound arguments for a draft. They were put eloquently not so long ago by Bill Broyles, a Vietnam vet: “In spite of the president’s insistence that our very civilization is at stake, the privileged aren’t flocking to the flag. The war is being fought by Other People’s Children. The war is impersonal for the very people to whom it should be most personal. If the children of the nation’s elites were facing enemy fire without body armor, riding through gantlets of bombs in unarmored Humvees, fighting desperately in an increasingly hostile environment because of arrogant and incompetent civilian leadership, then those problems might well find faster solutions.”

The truth is that despite all those fine words, a draft never is going to happen. The military-industrial complex needs the money; it’s why the number of troops is being cut back right now. When President Barack Obama introduced “the new strategy” last year, he emphasized that the Pentagon will be getting more money, not less. In the past five years, the U.S. has spent $2.59 trillion on defense. The new plans call for an allocation of $2.73 trillion between 2013 and 2017. So much for any peace dividend when the troops come home from Afghanistan.

As Andrew Cockburn recently predicted, the budget will grow, but the military will shrink.  There will be no more ‘nation building,’ with its long and expensive occupations.  Overall, troop levels will be cut by about 100,000 soldiers and Marines.  Fewer new planes will be built. America no longer will be equipped to fight two full-scale wars at the same time — an official requirement for decades.

Such was the military-cultural context for calls for the draft: huge ground forces stocked with draftees.  What we have now are precisely the opposite — robot/drone wars — no need for suicidal soldiers or politically awkward draftee casualties.  The money all goes to Lockheed Martin and the other big aerospace companies.  Remember that there’s a good reason the conscript military was abolished.  It mutinied in Vietnam and, thus, was a prime factor in America’s defeat.”     Alexander Cockburn, “The End of America’s Armies;” Creator’s Syndicate, 2012.  

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Numero Cinco“Perhaps because he embodied that rarest of combinations—the energy and enthusiasm of youth, and actual genius—there are few writers better at articulating the fire of creation than Hart Crane.  The following selection from his letters carries Crane from his early twenties to a few years before he died at thirty-two: here is is writing The Bridge, becoming intoxicated with John Donne and the Elizabethan dramatists, defending himself from charges of willful obscurity or ‘sophistication,’ and finally (in the most defensive of the letters, especially the last), he is writing to that great grumpy man, Yvor Winters, daring to suggest that a wild and revelatory act such as The Bridge, even if it fails, is better than Yvor’s academic poetry and sad attempts to nail it all down to theory and aesthetic dogma.And there is also this passage, my favorite among nearly all letters from poets:

February 20, 1923 – Those who have wept in the darkness sometimes are rewarded with stray leaves blown inadvertently.  Since your last I have [had] one of those few experiences that come,—ever, but which are almost sufficient in their very incompleteness…. And we who create must endure—must hold to spirit not by the mind, the intellect alone.  These have no mystic possibilities.  O flesh damned to hate and scorn!  I have felt my cheek pressed on the desert these days and months too much.  How old I am!  Yet, oddly now this sense [of] age—not at all in my senses—is gaining me altogether unique love and happiness.  I feel I have been thru much of this again and again before.  I long to go to India and stay always.  Meditation on the sun is all there is.  Not that this isn’t enough!  I mean I find my imagination more sufficient all the time.  The work of the workaday world is what I dislike.  I spend my evenings in music and sometimes ecstasy…. I’m bringing much into contemporary verse that is new.  I’m on a synthesis of America and its structural identity now, called The Bridge. (133-134)


January 5, 1917 – I realize more entirely every day, that I am preparing for a fine life: that I have powers, which, if correctly balanced, will enable me to mount to extraordinary latitudes.  There is constantly an inward struggle, but the time to worry is only when there is no inward debate, and consequently there is smooth sliding to the devil. (10)

April 7 – I shall really without a doubt be one of the foremost poets of America if I am enabled to devote enough time to my art. (12)

April 14, 1920 – Excuse me,—but I am tired, peevish, and impulsive, and shall write you but a disordered record at best. I feel like committing what is left of me after the day’s end, to paper, and you shall have the bones of the feast anyway. (38)

October 17, 1921 – I can only apologize by saying that if my work seems needlessly sophisticated it is because I am only interested in adding what seems to me something really new to what has been written. Unless one has some new, intensely personal viewpoint to record, say on the eternal feelings of love, and the suitable personal idiom to employ in the act, I say, why write about it? Nine chances out of ten, if you know where in the past to look, you will find words already written in the more-or-less exact tongue of your soul. And the complaint to be made against nine out of ten poets is just this,—that you are apt to find their sentiments much better expressed perhaps four hundred years past. (70)

October 17, 1921 – I admit to a slight leaning towards the esoteric, and am perhaps not to be taken seriously. I am fond of things of great fragility, and also and especially of a kind of poetry John Donne represents, a dark musky, brooding, speculative vintage, at once sensual and spiritual, and singing rather the beauty of experience than innocence. (70)

November 26, 1921 – I can see myself from now rapidly joining Josephson in a kind of Elizabethan fanaticism. You have doubtless known my long-standing friendship with Donne, Webster, and Marlowe. Now I have another Mermaid “conjugal” to strengthen the tie. The fact is, I can find nothing in modern work to come up to the verbal richness, irony and emotion of these folks, and I would like to let them influence me as much as they can in the interpretation of modern moods,—somewhat as Eliot has beautifully done. There are parts of his “Gerontion” that you can find almost bodily in Webster and Jonson…. I don’t want to imitate Eliot, of course,—but I have come to the stage now where I want to carefully choose my most congenial influences and, in a way, “cultivate” their influence. I can say with J[osephson] that the problem of form becomes harder and harder for me every day. I am not at all satisfied with anything I have thus far done, mere winnowings, and too slight to satisfy me. I have never, so far, been able to present a vital, living and tangible,—a positive emotion to my satisfaction. For as soon as I attempt such an act I either grow obvious or ordinary, and abandon the thing at the second line. Oh! it is hard! One must be drenched in words, literally soaked with them to have the right ones form themselves into the proper pattern at the right moment. (71-72)

January 10, 1922 – My aims make writing slow for me, and so far I have done practically nothing,—but I can wait for slow improvements rather more easily than I can let a lot of stuff loose that doesn’t satisfy me. There is plenty of it in the publishing houses and magazines every day to amuse the folks that like it. This may very well be a tiresome ranting for you, but I think you will like the quotations anyway. (79)

June 18, 1922 – O Gorham [Munson], I have known moments in eternity. I tell you this as one who is a brother. I want you to know me as I feel myself to be sometimes…. You know I live for work,—for poetry. I shall do my best work later when I am about 35 or 40. The imagination is the only thing worth a damn. Lately I have grown terribly isolated, and very egoist. One has to do it [in] Cleveland. I rush home from work to my room, hung with the creates of Sommer and Lescaze—and fiddle through the evenings. If I could afford wine every evening I might do more. But I am slow anyway. (92-3)

November 20, 1922 – What do you think of Eliot’s The Wastelands? I was rather disappointed. It was good, of course, but so damned dead. Neither does it, in my opinion, add anything important to Eliot’s achievement. (108)

February 6, 1923 – I am ruminating on a new longish poem under the title of The Bridge which carries on further the tendencies manifest in “F and H.” [“The Marriage of Faustus and Helen”] It will be extremely difficult to accomplish it as I see it now, so much time will be wasted in thinking about it. (123)

February 20, 1923 – Those who have wept in the darkness sometimes are rewarded with stray leaves blown inadvertently. Since your last I have [had] one of those few experiences that come,—ever, but which are almost sufficient in their very incompleteness…. And we who create must endure—must hold to spirit not by the mind, the intellect alone. These have no mystic possibilities. O flesh damned to hate and scorn! I have felt my cheek pressed on the desert these days and months too much. How old I am! Yet, oddly now this sense [of] age—not at all in my senses—is gaining me altogether unique love and happiness. I feel I have been thru much of this again and again before. I long to go to India and stay always. Meditation on the sun is all there is. Not that this isn’t enough! I mean I find my imagination more sufficient all the time. The work of the workaday world is what I dislike. I spend my evenings in music and sometimes ecstasy…. I’m bringing much into contemporary verse that is new. I’m on a synthesis of America and its structural identity now, called The Bridge. (133-134)

March 2, 1923 – To get those, and others of men like Strauss, Ravel, Scriabine, and Block into words one needs to ransack the vocabularies of Shakespeare, Jonson, Webster (for theirs were the richest) and add our scientific, street and counter, and psychological terms, etc. Yet, I claim that such things can be done! The modern artist needs gigantic assimilative capacities, emotion,—and the greatest of allvision. (137)

July 21, 1923 – My mother has had her full share of suffering and I have had much, also. I have had enough, anyway, to realize that it is all very beautiful in the end if you will pierce through to the center of it and see it in relation to the real emotion and values of Life. Do not think I am entirely happy here,—or ever will be, for that matter, except for a few moments at a time when I am perhaps writing or receiving a return of love. The true idea of God is the only thing that can give happiness,—and that is the identification of yourself with all of life…. One cannot live in these days and in such places as cities without at least a few friends that like the same things as you do and have minds and souls. (158)

December 21, 1923 – One can live happily on very little, I have found, if the mind and spirit have some definite objects in view. I expect I’ll always have to drudge for my living, and I’m quite willing to always do it, but I am no more fooling myself that the mental bondage and spiritual bondage of the more remunerative sorts of work is worth the sacrifices inevitably involved. If I can’t continue to create the sort of poetry that is my intensest and deepest component in life—then it all means very little to me, and then I might as well tie myself up to some smug ambition and “success” (the common idol that every Tom Dick and harry is bowing to everywhere). But so far, as you know, I only grow more and more convinced that what I naturally have to give the world in my own terms—is worth giving, and I’ll go through a number of ordeals yet to pursue a natural course…. Look around you and see the numbers and numbers of so-called “successful” people, successful in the worldly sense of the word. I wonder how many of them are happy in the sense that you and I know what real happiness means! I’m glad we aren’t so dumb as all that, even though we do have to suffer a great deal. Suffering is a real purification, and the worst thing I have always had to say against Christian Science [Crane is writing to his mother, who is a Christian Scientist] is that it willfully avoided suffering, without a certain measure of which any true happiness cannot be fully realized. (174)

January 12, 1924 – …I think, though, from the above, you will now see why I would not regard it as honest to accept your proposition, offered as it was in such frankness and good will. I don’t want to use you as a makeshift when my principle ambition and life lies completely outside of business. I always have given the people I worked for my wages worth of service, but it would be a very different sort of thing to come to one’s father and simple feign an interest in fulfilling a confidence when one’s mind and guts aren’t driving in that direction at all. I hope you credit me with genuine sincerity as well as the appreciation of your best motives in this statement.
You will perhaps be righteously a little bewildered at all these statements about my enthusiasm about my writing and my devotion to that career in life. It is true that I have to date very little to show as actual accomplishment in this field, but it is true that on the other hand that I have had very little time left over after the day’s work to give to it and I may have just as little time in the wide future to give to it, too. Be all that as it may, I have come to recognize that I am satisfied and spiritually healthy only when I am fulfilling myself in that direction. It is my natural one, and you will possibly admit that if it had been artificial or acquired, or a mere youthful whim it would have been cast off some time ago in favor of more profitable occupations from the standpoint of monetary returns. For I have been through some pretty trying situations, and, indeed, I am in just such a one again at the moment, with less than two dollars in my pocket and not definitely located in any sort of job.
However, I shall doubtless be able to turn my hand to something very humble and temporary as I have done before. I have many friends, some of whom will lend me small sums until I can repay them—and some sort of job always turns up sooner or later. What pleases me is that so many distinguished people have liked my poems (seen in magazines and mss.)… If I am able to keep on in my present development, strenuous as it is, you may live to see the name ‘Crane’ stand for something where literature is talked about, not only in New York but in London and abroad.

You are a very busy man these days as I well appreciate from the details in your letter, and I have perhaps bored you with these explanations about myself… Nevertheless, as I’ve said before, I couldn’t see any other way than to frankly tell you about myself and my interests so as not to leave any accidental afterthoughts in your mind that I had any ‘personal’ reasons for not working for the Crane Company. And in closing I would like to just ask you to think sometime,—try to imagine working for the pure love of simply making something beautiful,—something that maybe can’t be sold or used to help sell anything else, but that is simply a communication between man and man, a bond of understanding and human enlight[en]ment—which is what a real work of art is. If you do that, maybe you will see why I am not so foolish after all to have followed what seems sometimes only a faint star. I only ask to leave behind me something that the future may find valuable, and it takes a bit of sacrifice sometimes in order to give the thing that you know is in yourself and worth giving. I shall make every sacrifice toward that end. (177-180)

March 1, 1924 – It’s encouraging that people say they get at least some kind of impact from my poems, even when they are honest in admitting considerable mystification. “Make my dark poem light, and light” [“The Progress of the Soul” line 55], however, is the text I chose from Donne some time ago as my direction. I have always been working hard for a more perfect lucidity, and it never pleases me to be taken as willfully obscure or esoteric. (183)

November 16, 1924 – There’s no stopping for rest, however, when one is in the “current” of creation, so to speak, and so I’ve spent all of today at one or two stubborn lines. My work is becoming known for its formal perfection and hard glowing polish, but most of those qualities, I’m afraid, are due to a great deal of labor and patience on my part. Besides working on parts of my Bridge I’m engaged in writing a series of six sea poems called “Voyages” (they are also love poems)… (198)

December 3, 1925 – Besides the poems collected in my forthcoming volume [White Buildings] I have partially written a long poem, the conception of which has been in my mind for some years. I have had to work at it very intermittently, between night and morning, and while shorter efforts can be more successfully completed under such crippling circumstances, a larger conception such as this poem, The Bridge, aiming as it does to enunciate a new cultural synthesis of values in terms of our America, requires a more steady application and less interruption than my circumstances have get granted me to give to it. (213)

January 18, 1926 – The bridge in becoming a ship, a world, a woman, a tremendous harp (as it does finally) seems to really have a career. (227)

March 5, 1926 – As Waldo may have mentioned, the finale of the Bridge is written, the other five or six parts are in feverish embryo. (230)

June 10, 1926 – All this is inconsecutive and indeterminate because I am trying to write shorthand about an endless subject—and moreover am unresolved as to any ultimate conviction. I am not fancying that I am “enlightening” you about anything,—nor, if I thought I were merely exposing personal sores, would I continue to be so monotonous. Emotionally I should like to write the bridge; intellectually judged the whole theme and project seems more and more absurd…. The form of my poem rises out of a past that so overwhelms the present with its worth and vision that I’m at a loss to explain my delusion that there exist any real links between the past and a future worthy of it… The bridge as a symbol today has no significance beyond an economical approach to shorter hours, quicker lunches, behaviorism and toothpicks…. If only America were half as worthy today to be spoken of as Whitman spoke of it fifty years ago there might be something for one to say—not that Whitman received or required any tangible proof of his intimations, but that time has shown how increasingly lonely and ineffectual his confidence stands. (258-9)

August 3, 1926 – Enclosed is [The Bridge section] “Atlantis,” there  have been variances since your copy whether you have it now or not. —So will you kindly humor my present little neurosis, and take care of this. I feel as though I were dancing on dynamite these days—so absolute and elaborated has become the conception. All sections moving forward now at once! I didn’t realize that a bridge is begun from the two ends at once. (266)

August 12, 1926 – I’m happy, quite well, and living as never before. The accumulation of impressions and concepts gathered the last several years and constantly repressed by immediate circumstances are having a chance to function, I believe. And nothing but this large form would hold them without the violences that mar so much of my previous, more casual work. The Bridge is already longer than the Wasteland,—and it’s only about half done. (268)

November 15, 1926 – Your quotations are, several of them, old favorites of mine. And you are right about modern epics—except—until somebody actually overcomes the limitations. This will have to be done by a new form,—and, of course, new forms are never desirable until they are simply forced into being by new materials. Perhaps any modern equivalent of the old epic form should be called by some other name, for certainly, as I see it, the old definition cannot cover the kind of poem I am trying to write except on certain fundamental points. At least both are concerned with material which can be called mythical…. But what is “mythical” in, or rather, of the twentieth century not the Kaiser, the sinking of the Titanic, etc. Rather it is science, travel (in the name of speed)—psychoanalysis, etc. With, of course, the eternal verities of sea, mountain and river still at work.
The old narrative form, then—with is concomitant species of rhetoric, is obviously unequal to the task. [I would humbly disagree.] It may well be that the link-by-link cumulative effect of the ancients cannot have an equivalent in any modern epic form. However, there are certain basically mythical factors in our Western world which literally cry for embodiment. Oddly, as I see it, they cannot be presented completely (any of them) in isolated order, but in order to appear in their true, luminous reality must be presented in chronological and organic order, out of which you get a kind of bridge, the quest of which bridge is—nothing less ambitious than the annihilation of time and space, the prime myth of the modern world.
The labor of locating the interrelations between sources, facts and appearances in all this is, believe me, difficult. One may be doomed to the kind of half-success which is worse than failure. (287-88)

March 17, 1927 – It takes more than ordinary mental logic, of course, to fuse all multitudinous aspects of such a theme [The Bridge]—I carried the embryonic Idea of the poem about with me for six years before I ever wrote a line. Then there was a sudden impetus, the results of which you have seen almost entirely. I am beginning to think it may be six more years before the materials for the rest of the poem shall have reached a sufficiently mature organization to be ready for paper. Logic or no logic, I can never do anything that is worth while without the assent of my intuitions….
It gives you or at least is so intended—nothing more than the primitive attitude I take toward both materials and aesthetic dogmas. There seems to me really no convincing modus operandi but what you might call alert blindness. Aesthetic speculations, etc. are of course endlessly interesting to me and stimulating. But not one that I have ever encountered has been quite equal to the necessary assimilation of experience—the artist’s chief problem. I admit many biases. For instance, I have a more or less religious attitude toward creation and expression. I respond more to revelation—or what seem revelation to me—than I do to what seems to me “repetitious”—however classic and noble. (327)

April 29, 1927: As for that “Atlantis” [section in The Bridge]—I imagine it to be too subjectively written for me to legitimately explain or condone. It was the first part of the poem to be written—and that in a kind of three-days fit, the memory alone of which is enough to justify it with me. (333)

April 17, 1928: Thank God the sea is near, that’s all I can be grateful for. (372)

April 27, 1928: I could live in the water and be quite contented. (373)

June 4, 1930: Your primary presumption that The Bridge was proffered as an epic has no substantial foundation.  You know quite well that I doubt that our present stage of cultural development is so ordered yet as to provide the means or method for such an organic manifestation as that. Since your analysis found no evidence of epic form, no attempt even to stimulate the traditional qualifications or pedantic trappings,—then I wonder what basis you had for attributing such an aim to the work,—unless, perhaps, to submit me to an indignity which might be embarrassing on the grounds that I could be stripped of unjustified pretensions.
The fact that The Bridge contains folk lore and other material suitable to the epic form need not therefore prove its failures as a long lyric poem, with interrelated sections. Rome was written about long before the age of Augustus, and I dare say that Virgil was assisted by several well traveled roads to guide him, though it is my posthumous suggestion that when we do have an “epic” it need not necessarily incorporate a personalized “hero”….
It took over five years of sustained something-or-other to compose The Bridge—with more actual and painful “differentiation of experience” into the bargain that I’ll wager you will ever take upon yourself. The results have not been as satisfactory as I had hoped for; but I believe that such “wreckage” as I find remaining, presents evidence of considerably more significance than do the cog-walk gestures of a beetle in a sand pit.
Yours, [unsigned] (428-430)


And here are two passages from the years following these letters, from Paul Mariani’s biography of Crane, The Broken Tower:

[September, 1931, in Tepotzlán, Mexico] They’d arrived, it turned out, on the eve of the Feast of Tepoztecatl, the ancient Aztec god of pulque, corn liquor. Crane had noticed the impressive ruins of the god’s temple, destroyed centuries earlier by the Spanish, set high on the cliff overlooking one end of the valley. The following day, he and Rourke went out in the cornfields, looking for signs of the older Indian civilization that had flourished here before the coming of the Spanish. Together, they found several fragments of Aztec idols that had been turned over by plows. When they showed these to the elders, they were told some of the legends surrounding Tepoztecatl, even as they were served hot coffee laced with pulque. What wonderful people these Indians were, Crane mused, who “still stuck to their ancient rites despite all the oppression of the Spaniards for near 400 years.” In writing The Bridge, except for the New York City cabdriver named Maquokeeta he’d talked with one night, he had had to imagine the Indian through an ersatz American myth and history, and the poem had suffered accordingly. Now he was coming into direct contact with the descendants of the Aztecs. The descent into the essential soil of Mexico had begun in earnest.

That evening, as the sun was setting, Crane and Rourke were drinking tequila at an outdoor coffee bar when they noticed a light on the roof of the cathedral. Suddenly, a drum and flute began playing “the most stirring and haunting kind of savage summons,” and they found themselves running toward the cathedral and up the church stairs onto the roof. What they found were several groups of older Indian men—some twenty in all—standing about with lanterns and talking while the drums and flute played on. The musicians, faces turned toward the ruined temple atop its precipice two miles away, played on and on, ceasing only when the sextons rang the great cathedral bells, which called the faithful to prayer at fifteen-minute intervals. When the bells ceased, the drums and flutes resumed. For two hours, this antiphon of response and counterresponse between cathedral gong and tribal flute and drum continued. Then rockets began firing from the parapets of the cathedral, answered by rockets going off from the temple.

“Sitting there,” Crane would remember, “on top of that church, with the lightning playing on one horizon, a new moon sinking on the opposite, and with millions of stars overhead and between and with that strange old music beating in one’s blood—it was like being in the land of Oz.” Two musics, two worlds, each at odds with the other, become now a single reality. “There really did not seem to be a real conflict that amazing night,” Crane would tell Bill Wright afterwards, for he’d seen these same Indian elders at mass as well. To witness, as he’d been privileged to witness, such contradictory forces reconciled in the enactments of music! Finally, when the music ended at nine, Crane invited the elders to the bar for a glass of tequila before retiring. In turn they invited the two Americans to join them at 3:00 a.m., when the bells would once again begin ringing in the tower and the drums and flute would play in antiphonal response until sunrise.

It was the music that woke Crane, but not until 5:00 a.m., when he poked Rourke and they ran back to the cathedral for more hot coffee and pulque and to “see the sun rise over that marvelous valley to such ringing of bells and wild music as I never expect to hear again.” Crane was struck by the presence of an ancient Aztec drum, “a large wooden cylinder, exquisitely carved and showing a figure with animal head, upright, and walking through thick woods.” A pre-Conquest drum, “guarded year after year from the destruction of the priests and conquerors, that how many hundreds of times had been beaten to propitiate the god.” And here it was, the thing itself, lying on its side, on the roof of the cathedral, while an elder, seated with legs folded, struck it with two heavily padded drumsticks. The night before, this same drum had echoed through the valley from its place of honor in the distant ruined temple. Now it had been brought here to greet the rising god.

And then, as the sun began to come up and the excitement mounted to a near-impossible pitch, the man who had been playing the ancient drum suddenly placed two sticks in Crane’s hands and nodded. Crane was stunned. Never had he heard of any American being allowed to participate like this in the pulque ceremony before. “It seemed too good to be true, really,” he would tell Bill Wright, “that I, who had expected to be thrown off the roof when I entered the evening before, should now be invited to actually participate.” Somehow, he managed to maintain “the exact rhythm with all due accents” he’d been listening to for the last several hours, even working in his own rift, “based on the lighter tattoo of the more modern drum of the evening before.” And though the heavy drumsticks soon tired his forearms, he believed he’d been a hit, and that the old men would have embraced him had decorum allowed. Several, in fact, did put their arms around his shoulders and walked back and forth with him the entire length of the roof as the bells rang and “the whole place seemed to go mad in the refulgence of full day.”

Wonderful as it had been to hear those great bells ringing, however, it had been ‘inestimably better to see the sextons wield the hammers, swinging on them with the full weight of their entire bodies like frantic acrobats,’ even as rockets burst into the bell-thronged sunrise before they disappeared.  There would be other memories of Tepotzlán: bathing with an Indian lad in a mountain pool and meeting the vicar of the cathedral.  But these were dying falls compared to what he had experienced atop the cathedral, where he had helped summon God into this old upon old, ever fresh New World. (383-385)


[April 27, 1932, on the ship Orizaba, ten miles each of the Florida coast, 275 miles north of Havana] ….A few minutes before noon, there was a knock at her door.  It was Crane, still in pajamas, but wearing a light topcoat over them.  She told him to shave and get dressed and join her for lunch.  ‘I’m not going to make it, dear,’ he told her, his voice already drifting.  ‘I’m utterly disgraced.’  Nonsense, she told him.  How much better he’d feel once he was dressed.  ‘All right, dear,’ he said.  He leaned over, kissed her goodbye, and closed the door behind him.  Then he walked along the promenade deck toward the stern of the ship.

Gertrude Vogt, one of the passengers sitting on deck chairs by the stern, was waiting along with others to hear the results of the ship’s pool, which would be announced at noon.  She looked up to see a man walking toward her.  Earlier that day, she would recall forty years later, one of the ship’s officers had told her and some of the others that a man ‘had been in the sailors’ quarters the previous night, trying to make one of the men, and had been badly beaten.’  Now she watched as that man, in coat and pajamas, walked up to the railing, took off his coat, and folded it over the railing.  Then he ‘placed both hands on the railing, raised himself on his toes, and … dropped back again.  We all fell silent and watched him, wondering what in the world he was up to.  Then, suddenly, he vaulted over the railing and jumped into the sea.  For what seemed like five minutes, but was more like five seconds, no one was able to move; then cries of ‘man overboard’ went up.  Just once I saw Crane, swimming strongly, but never again.'”     Tim Miller, “‘I Respond More to Revelation:’ Hart Crane on Fire;” posted in Word & Silence, 2016.