November 10th, 2012

Dover Beach

I’ve been thinking about this poem lately. It’s really a bleak work (and very modern, despite the year it was written, which was probably around 1851). The subject is the loss of faith. Not a personal loss of faith, but a societal one: Faith. I think the poem can be applied to other related things, too, that have been lost: the values that once held us together as a society and a culture, perhaps?

“Dover Beach” is one of those poems that’s at least somewhat familiar to many people who don’t ordinarily read poetry. YouTube has a surprising number of versions. Here are two I thought to be interesting, for different reasons (I would say “enjoy,” but I’m not sure that’s exactly the right word):

49 Responses to “Dover Beach”

  1. Wolla Dalbo Says:

    Neo—a very apt description of our current situation as “the tide (of anchoring, informing, strengthening, and reassuring faith has been poisoned and) recedes…” as“…on a darkling plain ignorant armies clash by night.”

    All is (very deliberately) muddled and confused, the compass whirls around, the storm builds, wind and waves rise, and no safe harbors or home ports can be spied—and, in any case, “you can’t go home again.” The knowledge we need is denied to many of us, and our instincts corrupted.

    How to tell truth from falsehood? How to determine what is important, what is superfluous, who, if anyone, to trust, what course to take and what headings to avoid, what plan and actions will bring ultimate victory (and what will that “victory” consist of, and what will it be and look like?), and which coarse and actions will dash us on the rocks and shoals, and bring ultimate defeat?

    By comparison to our past, I see a very repressive Socialist/Communist State—voted for (did they realize it) by our fellow ignorant, propagandized, “low information,” lemming–like citizens–potential “Morlocks” and “Eloi” —on the horizon and advancing, looming ever closer each day.

    Should we stand our ground, hunker down, go on the attack, or take the blows, encyst, hide in plain sight, plan, bide our time, take careful steps, and wait for a better day?

  2. JDinOslo Says:


  3. M of Hollywood Says:

    some comfort that wise people have seen truth.
    the golden thread of immortals, hesse called them: our friends.

  4. Rob Says:

    For crying out loud. We lost a presidential election. Yes, it sucks. Yes, it’d be better had we won. However, we lost, as we are bound to do sometimes, and the thing to do now is to BUCK UP, move forward and LIVE. Fantasizing about the cosmic importance of our defeat, concocting conspiracy theories to “explain” it, bemoaning the sorry state the world must be in for it to have permitted our defeat, and so on, is not going to further our cause. Just let it go……

  5. J.J. formerly Jimmy J. Says:

    Dover Beach. Yes, it conveys the sense of melancholy that many of us are feeling. We must all grieve, but not for too long. While we live and while we can we must continue to live. And continue to strive for a those things we believe in – smaller government, less government interference in our lives, more personal responsibility, more economic freedom, and higher moral values. I am going to continue to stand up for those things. For my inspiration I turn not to a melancholy poem, but one that inspires me to live.

    Others may find some inspiration from “THE DESIDERATA” by Max Ehrmann.

  6. carl in atlanta Says:

    Much better than “Paint it Black”.

  7. Skookumchuk Says:

    Things could change when the money runs out.

  8. rickl Says:

    You sound pretty young. You don’t seem to get it.

    The America you (and I) were born and raised in is gone. It is over. It is never coming back.

    Welcome to the Third World.

  9. rickl Says:

    Skookumchuk Says:
    November 10th, 2012 at 7:23 pm

    Things could change when the money runs out.

    Yes, that’s when the real violence will start. People who are used to getting something for nothing will be pissed off, and will be looking for someone to victimize.

  10. Rob Says:


    I’m in my 40s. Yes, the world we grew up in is gone, but it didn’t disappear this past Tuesday. It’s been gone a long, long time.

  11. Les Says:

    And yet, because tomorrow is Veteran’s Day, I thought of this which I hope will be just as fitting. We may disagree on some points, but I hope we’ll get to see each other as a band of brothers.

    WESTMORELAND. O that we now had here
    But one ten thousand of those men in England
    That do no work to-day!

    KING. What’s he that wishes so?
    My cousin Westmoreland? No, my fair cousin;
    If we are mark’d to die, we are enow
    To do our country loss; and if to live,
    The fewer men, the greater share of honour.
    God’s will! I pray thee, wish not one man more.
    By Jove, I am not covetous for gold,
    Nor care I who doth feed upon my cost;
    It yearns me not if men my garments wear;
    Such outward things dwell not in my desires.
    But if it be a sin to covet honour,
    I am the most offending soul alive.
    No, faith, my coz, wish not a man from England.
    God’s peace! I would not lose so great an honour
    As one man more methinks would share from me
    For the best hope I have. O, do not wish one more!
    Rather proclaim it, Westmoreland, through my host,
    That he which hath no stomach to this fight,
    Let him depart; his passport shall be made,
    And crowns for convoy put into his purse;
    We would not die in that man’s company
    That fears his fellowship to die with us.
    This day is call’d the feast of Crispian.
    He that outlives this day, and comes safe home,
    Will stand a tip-toe when this day is nam’d,
    And rouse him at the name of Crispian.
    He that shall live this day, and see old age,
    Will yearly on the vigil feast his neighbours,
    And say “To-morrow is Saint Crispian.”
    Then will he strip his sleeve and show his scars,
    And say “These wounds I had on Crispian’s day.”
    Old men forget; yet all shall be forgot,
    But he’ll remember, with advantages,
    What feats he did that day. Then shall our names,
    Familiar in his mouth as household words-
    Harry the King, Bedford and Exeter,
    Warwick and Talbot, Salisbury and Gloucester-
    Be in their flowing cups freshly rememb’red.
    This story shall the good man teach his son;
    And Crispin Crispian shall ne’er go by,
    From this day to the ending of the world,
    But we in it shall be remembered-
    We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
    For he to-day that sheds his blood with me
    Shall be my brother; be he ne’er so vile,
    This day shall gentle his condition;
    And gentlemen in England now-a-bed
    Shall think themselves accurs’d they were not here,
    And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
    That fought with us upon Saint Crispin’s day.

  12. Wolla Dalbo Says:


    The point is that the philosophy, world-view, ethos, mindset, set of expectations, and behaviors that were the dominant ones that pretty much set everyone’s internal value system, expectations, and behaviors when I was growing up in the 1940s-60s, and that has been fading ever since–a world view and mind-set that grew out of all the came before, and a very different time and mind-set than today–has, as the election just concluded so very clearly illustrated—become terminally attenuated, has lost its power and, for all practical purposes, has essentially vanished (especially so as the cohort holding them dies off), and absent the return of very close analogues of those same historical, economic, social, and cultural conditions, they will never return again.

    We have now moved into a very different mind-set and era, one that is, by the old standards I was taught, increasingly decadent, corrupt, violent, and dark, and in opposition to everything that America used to be and stand for.

  13. MissJean Says:

    No one is going to riot when the money runs out. People will slowly get used to having no financial freedom as long as it comes slowly.

    It’s like the dying of marriage. Time was when getting divorced went from unusual to normal, to when the “best” way to avoid divorce is to never marry, to live together and raise kids together as single people. Now if you suggest that being an unwed mother living with the unwed father isn’t the best way to bring up a child – as I once had the temerity to do – you will be castigated and told that marriage is unnecessary. Not just by the person you’re offering advice but by everyone within earshot (long story short: my niece and I in a restaurant).

    So the new norm is that marriage is optional, maybe even objectionable. Which is also why it’s been so easy to redefine it.

  14. kolnai Says:

    Rob –

    It hasn’t even been a week, man. I think it’s you who needs to cool out. Your speed or recovery from a tough blow may be unnaturally quick, but you remind me of someone telling a person whose spouse just died after being terminally ill for years to buck up and get over it after a mere four days of mourning.

    A little insight into and tolerance for human psychology and its response to trauma goes a long way. Take some time off of reprimanding us and maybe look into that a bit. It will be more fruitful for everyone.

  15. Curtis Says:

    Today, good poets are ublished. They are drowned by political shouters.

    Today, fewer stones reflect words.

    Today, poets want refrain from nuance and irony.

    What tyranny. The world citizen, made of absorbing material, has no ability to echo. Echo bounces off granite, off rock, off power. The true echoer may not have made the pronouncement, be he echoes it and echoes it and echoes it.

    Today’s poems say ugly things like “praise the elected leader.” There is no rock of ages in that.

    Poets know understanding, like lighting, strikes upon a subject and, fortunately, there are many subjects.

    There is never a shortage of poets. One is vanderleun.

    A poet will find most of his words tomorrow.

  16. Curtis Says:

    May I say I wish I had Dover Beach.

  17. Skookumchuk Says:


    If it occurs slowly enough and the blow can be cushioned, yes, possibly. Otherwise, all bets are off.

    This isn’t necessarily like your examples of gradual social change. This might be very sudden.

  18. Oblio Says:

    III. After

    After the scream became sobbing
    After the shouts became whispers
    After the promises
    After the turning
    After the patchy wild reports and rumours
    After the guessing and the doubting
    After the silence
    We are face-to-face with certainty:
    We know, at last, where we are going.
    I will send you all my love
    And rise up in the morning sun.

  19. Curtis Says:

    Here’s a poem for every man who has faced whether or not mercy would be his from a former wife:

    I went for a final baste
    She stayed their hand at the last.

  20. Curtis Says:

    Les, is there really any, from almost nothing to something, the feeling or rousing of the soul for the promised King.

  21. beverly Says:

    My brother in law, 64, educated, intelligent, said yesterday that he’s met many venture capitalists (he’s a mergers & acquisitions reporter for a Major Financial Newspaper). That he would trust them completely in doing business investing.

    But, he added, with a laugh, that he would NEVER trust such a person at the helm of the ship of state: they’re “not qualified for the job.”

    I burst out, “What on earth do you think OBAMA’s qualifications are for the job?” and he said, with utter seriousness, even reverence: “A life spent in public service.”

    I realized that he’s been completely brainwashed, and like any devout Leftist Cult member, he will fight tooth and toenail if you try to deprogram him. This is mind-boggling, but it shouldn’t be: we all know examples from history of humans doing contemptible, even evil things because of crowd-control/psy-ops manipulation.

    We really need our moral spine. Like the founders said, our Constitution is capable of ruling only a moral people: any other type will behave as we have seen, and simply walk over it.

  22. kolnai Says:

    Beverly –

    Well said. Well said indeed.

    It’s the mystique of what Richard Weaver called, in his essential book “The Ethics of Rhetoric,” God Words and Devil Words. “Public service” is a God Word in the minds of Americans, having no content whatsoever aside from a halo our emotions paints over it.

    What does it mean? Americans say they’re sick of government and they always complain about how it’s run and basically everything. Well – why then would “a life in public service” be presumed to be a good thing? We don’t connect thoughts together, don’t understand how one thing implies another. In that fundamental sense, we are stupid.

    We say we want outsiders to shake things up, but we balk at every outsider because they lack inside experience. Then we complain about the insiders that we have GUARANTEED will be the only ones to ever be inside.

    We say the economy sucks and the future doesn’t look bright and the debt is a problem (majorities say that), but then we complain about the government we elect being too “political,” when that’s exactly why we elect them.

    We say politicians are craven and stupid and focus on superficial things (“What things?” I’d love to ask), but then we let photo-ops and images and clearly mendacious negative ads shake us to our core, biting on ever piece of bait dangled before us. It never occurs to us that these craven officials are not free agents. They REPRESENT us. And sadly, they often do it well, inasmuch being craven and superficial and unserious is a good representation of a people who are craven and superficial and unserious.

    All day we could adduce examples like these. Our minds have been destroyed, thoroughly corrupted, and illogic is called logic, whim is called virtue.

    Almost our entire mental lives with respect to politics and economics consists of endlessly repeated God Words and Devil Words. Halos and horns. No content. Just whim and fashion.

  23. RandomThoughts Says:

    Almost our entire mental lives with respect to politics and economics consists of endlessly repeated God Words and Devil Words. Halos and horns. No content. Just whim and fashion.

    This is inevitable, given our broader culture. I don’t refer merely to the media and the arts, but to the way we live on a minute to minute basis.

    We, as an entire nation, are incapable of spending significant time thinking about anything. We are incapable of paying attention to individuals–strangers–around us. To really trying to understand others, and appreciate their character (or recognize the lack thereof). We interact on the most superficial level with the vast majority of people we encounter. We can’t even stand in a grocery store line and give our undivided attention to the human cashier in front of us–no, we’re chatting with someone else on our cell phones about trivialities while utterly ignoring human beings standing mere feet away from us.

    We can’t drive our cars without talking on our cell phones either, usually while listening to the radio at the same time, and perhaps eating as well, oblivious to the fact that we are surrounded by other human beings racing alongside us (people who are equally oblivious to our existence). We dash around other cars as though the road were an obstacle course, and the other humans sharing the space with us are mere impediments.

    When we eat a meal, we do it with the television on, if we even bother to eat it in our home at all. We don’t sit down with family members, and talk with one another while enjoying food someone in the family took time to prepare from scratch. We microwave something, and in between all our other activities we eat it without any real thought.

    We crave distraction. We surround ourselves with it every waking minute of the day. And then we wonder why as a people we reelect a shallow, self-centered narcissist to lead us?

  24. kolnai Says:

    Beverly & Random Thoughts –

    Speaking of the electorate being “stuck on stupid,” I just chanced upon this piece:

    My personal favorites in this exquisite list of inanity are: 15% of people who want Obamacare repealed voted for Obama; 37% (!!!!) of those who said taxes should not be raised to cut the deficit voted for Obama…

    and 64% (!!!!!!!!!!!!!eleventy!!!!) said Obama’s response to Sandy “was a factor in their vote.” And 64% of that group went for Obama.

    Holy… um… moly. I feel like I have to shield my eyes from this stuff. It is too horrible to see it outside of a nightmare.

  25. kolnai Says:

    -Sorry, 62% of the 64% who said Sandy mattered went for Obama, not 64%.

  26. rickl Says:

    I’ve been a longtime reader of Belmont Club. There is one commenter, Walt, whose contributions to the comment threads usually consist of a poem. He is amazing. I consider him the Poet Laureate of the Internet, if not America’s greatest living poet.

    He runs the gamut from profound insights to silly doggerel. And always, ALWAYS, exactly on topic. Sometimes he’ll pop up within the first few comments of a new thread.

    Here’s his latest effort:


    Soft twilight drifts slowly obscuring our minds
    Beclouding perceptions and vision
    Deceiving us with an illusion that blinds
    Our power to see with precision
    We walk toward the sun setting low in the West
    Not knowing the pathway is ending
    Believing in those who say they know what’s best
    And that is more taxing and spending
    And getting elected with fraudulent votes
    And watching the world go to Hades
    While culture wars rage and the president dotes
    On his Marxist advisory ladies
    The twilight is gone and the dark night arrives
    And with it the wolves and the terror
    As through all the villages men with long knives
    Erase all whose thinking’s in error
    And midst all of this comes a flash in the night
    A thousandfold suns in the distance
    As darkness returns with the absence of light
    It seems there will be no resistance
    The country that once was the hope of the world
    Was now in the hands of our betters
    Who ordered our flags to be tight cased and furled
    And responded to blows with sharp letters
    And now at the end of our walk in the dark
    Near the end of our noble endeavor
    We sit on a bench in the once lovely park
    Well knowing it’s all gone forever

    The title alone is absolutely chilling. As it should be.

  27. physicsguy Says:

    Here’s an example of the mindset we are up against: I have been having a facebook exchange with a high school classmate who is very liberal. Along the way I brought up the idea of liberal suppression of free speech on campuses and pointed him to look at FIRE’s website. For those who don’t know, FIRE defends free speech within the academy and the current president is a liberal democrat who operates in a totally non-partisan fashion. Here’s my classmates’ response which speaks for itself:

    “spent some time looking at the website for While one or two of the stories seemed a bit shady, I was not persuaded that there is any large and growing amount of free speech repression on campuses. I presume the question doesn’t really arise for private colleges, since they’re businesses, and I don’t imagine a conservative would want any further intrusion of the government into that. The website seems to have a few individual instances of problems, which are not to me obviously free speech questions. But there are always a few people who cross the line, and the hope and expectation is that the courts will eventually straighten things out, no matter how many years or decades that takes. The ACLU is a big defender of free speech, maybe some of these guys should talk to them.”

  28. carl in atlanta Says:

    This thread — and especially Wolla Dalbo’s comment from 9:11 pm last night – – has got me thinking about things lost in this country during my lifetime. For some reason, I keep coming back to the loss of the sense of community and the commonly held values, mores and folkways that create and support that sense. And in my life at least, this loss is best illustrated by comparing the simple physical freedoms I had as a kid with those of my own children and now, my grand kids.

    When I was a little kid– and anyone here who was born between 1945 and 1965 probably had similar experiences — I could leave my house early in the morning and literally go anywhere my legs, bicycle, or even the bus would take me, as long as I was home for suppertime. I could roam for miles in any direction I wanted, and I vividly recall one day in particular on which two friends and I rode our bikes 25 miles out to Stone Mountain and then 25 miles back. We were only ten or eleven years old and this “feat” was deemed by us to be prodigious, not because of the danger but because of the physical endurance it required (these were the old Huffy-style bikes) and because when we set out we weren’t exactly sure of the way; we asked for directions as we went.

    If I was a parent today, I would be afraid to let my children ride their bikes up to the corner store or even wander off our street.

    And when I was a teenager — age 17 — my Dad let me tow the family boat down to the Florida Keys and back during a week-long spring break; this was a journey of well over 800 miles each way. We launched the boat at Big Pine Key, camped out for a week on a deserted sand spit three miles off shore and dived on a reef located at the edge of the freaking Gulf Stream, all without any adult supervision. And it was fine.

    Although I certainly treasure these kinds of personal experiences, I don’t think they are fundamentally different than those of millions of other middle class kids in those days. However, I wouldn’t — couldn’t – – have dreamed of letting my own kids do these things or anything like them, and they won’t be able to let their own kids do things like this either; the USA has become far too dangerous a place.

    What has changed over the last forty-fifty years? How have we lost that sense of having an unbounded horizon and endless possibilities? What have we become? And why? Why would any society willfully create a world that stifles the human spirit?

  29. cornflour Says:

    When it comes to talking about literature, I don’t find much to like on the internet. A wonderful exception is Patrick Kurp’s blog “Anecdotal Evidence.”

    Almost every day, Kurp writes something interesting about the intersection of literature and life. Here’s what he said about Joseph Epstein’s collection of essays, “Familiar Territory: Observations on American Life”:

    “He’s constitutionally conservative – that is, appreciative, mindful of lasting values — but seldom descends into the merely political.”

    That could just as well have been said about Kurp’s own writing.

    Here’s a quote I like from Epstein’s essays:

    “I must say that since I have begun writing these essays I have never been pressed for a subject; and so long as I continue to write them, I suspect I never shall be pressed. Part of this has to do with America. Rich in so many things, America is richest of all in things to write about. For the familiar essayist in America every day is like Christmas morning in a wealthy and loving Christian home; subjects, like gifts, are strewn about everywhere.”

    A bit different than what’s to be found on “Dover Beach.”

  30. Rob Says:

    Okay. Clearly this is about more than I thought.

    I will leave you all to “mourn” in peace. Maybe I’ll go for a walk in the park….assuming of course that such an activity is still consistent with the fundamental laws of physics following Tuesday’s election.

  31. david foster Says:

    Circa 1950, Arthur Koestler wrote a novel called The Age of Longing, which is basically about the loss of societal faith / societal self-confidence…although it is almost totally forgotten, I think it is highly relevant to our current situation. I reviewed it here:


  32. kolnai Says:

    Rob –

    See, now you’re just being a prick. Is there something in you that compels you to insult people for no good reason, just because?

    There is a way to express disagreement with the “mournful” take on the election – several have done so since Tuesday – that still manages to talk to those one is challenging like adults. It helps get your point across to do that, especially when you’re talking to people who are (ostensibly) on your side.

    Instead, you seem more interested in snide remarks and sarcasm, not actually furthering a discussion.

    The laws of physics remain the same. As do those of egotistical jerks.

  33. rickl Says:

    And, for Veterans Day:

    In Flanders fields the poppies blow
    Between the crosses, row on row,
    That mark our place; and in the sky
    The larks, still bravely singing, fly
    Scarce heard amid the guns below.

    We are the Dead. Short days ago
    We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
    Loved and were loved, and now we lie
    In Flanders fields.

    Take up our quarrel with the foe:
    To you from failing hands we throw
    The torch; be yours to hold it high.
    If ye break faith with us who die
    We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
    In Flanders fields.

    Thank you, veterans. I am sorry that we, the living, proved unworthy of your sacrifice.

  34. Rob Says:


    Sorry, but your name calling does not intimidate me in the least. And if I show no interest in “furthering a discussion”, then I should fit right in here.

  35. kolnai Says:

    Rob –

    I’m not calling you names; I’m accurately describing your behavior.

    The idea that I care enough to try to “intimidate” you is just more evidence of such behavior. Believe me, I couldn’t intimidate a fly.

    Neoneocon is a place where a bunch of us come together to discuss and debate, fraternally, and we don’t get our jollies making sarcastic barbs at each other’s expense. If you don’t like that or think we just want an echo chamber, then what, exactly, are you doing here? I’m still not clear on that.

    You have been consistently antagonistic since you arrived here, for no evident purpose aside from the apparent pleasure you take in it. I hope I’m wrong about that, and not for my sake.

  36. Rob Says:


    Troll somewhere else. I won’t take the bait.

  37. rickl Says:

    Rob Says:
    November 11th, 2012 at 1:00 pm


    Troll somewhere else. I won’t take the bait.

    That’s one of the funniest comments I’ve ever seen on this site.

    You may want to look up the definition of “troll”. Kolnai ain’t it.

    Door. Ass. Bang.

  38. Veteran’s Day 2012: Saying “Thank You!” and LINKS! Says:

    […] Neo at neo-neocon has up a post about Dover Beach. And a video. Go […]

  39. buddha hat Says:

    As long as we’re talking poetry, this Frost sonnet is worth reading.

  40. neo-neocon Says:

    buddha hat: wow. Just wow. I had never read that poem before.

  41. kolnai Says:

    A troll? Moi?

    By all means, shoot a complaint to our good hostess. If I recall correctly, you’re the one who just insulted everyone here.

    Let me see if I can find the quote… ah, yes, here it is –

    Quoth Rob:

    “And if I show no interest in ‘furthering a discussion,’ then I should fit right in here.”

    Be sure to double down on that when pressing your case. Neo will appreciate the compliment, I’m certain.


    (And thank you rickl – a doff of the hat to you, sir).

  42. Wolla Dalbo Says:

    Carl—I’ve observed and thought about the same ‘transformation”: from a 1940s-50s society and before, where kids were generally safe to peacefully roam free, with the assurance that most people would do them no harm, and in a friendly way routinely look out for them and offer help if it was needed, to a society where pedophiles, and assorted psychopaths routinely grab and hurt or kill kids, where parents who kill their children often go on TV in tears, begging whoever took them to return them unharmed, and we must worry that even a trip down the block could be fatal for our children (there is even a line of upscale bullet-proof (and I assume knife-resistant) children’s outerwear that is supposedly selling well in New York City).

    This transformation, it seems to me, is a good barometer of our general state of wellbeing, which ain’t good and is getting worse, as deviance is defined down, those who commit crimes are seen as merely the unfortunate, essentially blameless victims of circumstances beyond their control, and far too lenient mercy is only for the perpetrators and the not their real victims, who are quickly forgotten.

    Despite the nattering and irrelevance of most of our social work, social climbing, building-obsessed, and politics focused Churches and Synagogues, there is such a thing as Evil, which in the past they used to look in the eye and confront in “the bad old days” of supposed ignorance, fanaticism, rigid moral codes, and stultifying, cruel “conformity and repression,” an Evil which they now refuse to even acknowledge, much less look at or tackle, and this Evil is obviously growing by leaps and bounds here in the good old USA, and it confines us and circumscribes our freedom and our “peaceful enjoyment of our lives” more each day.

    We are headed, it looks to me, towards Fellini’s Satyricon territory, this election merely being a longer than normal, giant step taken down that dark road.

  43. Capt. Craig Says:

    Here is a poet whom I admire greatly and having been born on Mother’s Day 1944 can identify with some of the above. I am also a Newfoundlander who has seen his share if the world.

    E. J. Pratt

    Here the tides flow,
    And here they ebb;
    Not with that dull, unsinewed tread of waters
    Held under bonds to move
    Around unpeopled shores—
    Moon-driven through a timeless circuit
    Of invasion and retreat;
    But with a lusty stroke of life
    Pounding at stubborn gates,
    That they might run
    Within the sluices of men’s hearts,
    Leap under throb of pulse and nerve,
    And teach the sea’s strong voice
    To learn the harmonies of new floods,
    The peal of cataract,
    And the soft wash of currents
    Against resilient banks,
    Or the broken rhythms from old chords
    Along dark passages
    That once were pathways of authentic fires.

    Red is the sea-kelp on the beach,
    Red as the heart’s blood,
    Nor is there power in tide or sun
    To bleach its stain.
    It lies there piled thick
    Above the gulch-line.
    It is rooted in the joints of rocks,
    It is tangled around a spar,
    It covers a broken rudder,
    It is red as the heart’s blood,
    And salt as tears.

    Here the winds blow,
    And here they die,
    Not with that wild, exotic rage
    That vainly sweeps untrodden shores,
    But with familiar breath
    Holding a partnership with life,
    Resonant with the hopes of spring,
    Pungent with the airs of harvest.
    They call with the silver fifes of the sea,
    They breathe with the lungs of men,
    They are one with the tides of the sea,
    They are one with the tides of the heart,
    They blow with the rising octaves of dawn,
    They die with the largo of dusk,
    Their hands are full to the overflow,
    In their right is the bread of life,
    In their left are the waters of death.

    Scattered on boom
    And rudder and weed
    Are tangles of shells;
    Some with backs of crusted bronze,
    And faces of porcelain blue,
    Some crushed by the beach stones
    To chips of jade;
    And some are spiral-cleft
    Spreading their tracery on the sand
    In the rich veining of an agate’s heart;
    And others remain unscarred,
    To babble of the passing of the winds.

    Here the crags
    Meet with winds and tides—
    Not with that blind interchange
    Of blow for blow
    That spills the thunder of insentient seas;
    But with the mind that reads assault
    In crouch and leap and the quick stealth,
    Stiffening the muscles of the waves.
    Here they flank the harbours,
    Keeping watch
    On thresholds, altars and the fires of home,
    Or, like mastiffs,
    Guard too well.

    Tide and wind and crag,
    Sea-weed and sea-shell
    And broken rudder—
    And the story is told
    Of human veins and pulses,
    Of eternal pathways of fire,
    Of dreams that survive the night,
    Of doors held ajar in storms.

  44. rickl Says:

    Thanks, kolnai. No problem.

    And I’d like to take this opportunity to say that you have really been on a roll lately.

  45. M of Hollywood Says:

    there is probably no one here, but still words ring:

    By ~ William Wordsworth
    The world is too much with us; late and soon,
    Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers;
    Little we see in Nature that is ours;
    We have given our hearts away, a sordid boon!
    This Sea that bares her bosom to the moon,
    The winds that will be howling at all hours,
    And are up-gathered now like sleeping flowers,
    For this, for everything, we are out of tune;
    It moves us not.–Great God! I’d rather be
    A Pagan suckled in a creed outworn;
    So might I, standing on this pleasant lea,
    Have glimpses that would make me less forlorn;
    Have sight of Proteus rising from the sea;
    Or hear old Triton blow his wreathed horn

  46. RandomThoughts Says:

    “Rob” thinks kolnai is a troll?


    I could have saved all those words about superficial people who don’t bother to pay attention to the character of those around them. Rob just served himself up as a perfect example.

    Oh, M of Hollywood, thank you for reminding me of “The World is Too Much With Us.” It’s been far too long since I’ve read Wordsworth.

    There is something oddly…comforting…in knowing that previous generations–including poets who wrote 200 years ago–felt the same pain and angst over the state of humanity that we do today.

  47. ziontruth Says:

    Wolla Dalbo (9:11 pm), carl in atlanta (8:14 am),

    Synchronicity strikes again. (But unlike Jung, I attribute it to Divine Providence rather than consider it a fortuitous epiphenomenon.) I just sampled two old songs on Youtube, Okie from Muskogee by Merle Haggard from 1969, following Michael Filozof’s pointer, and another one I already knew of but hadn’t heard till now, John Mellencamp’s Small Town from 1985. Idiot Mellencamp, endorsing the presidential candidate whose values couldn’t be further removed from those of smalltown America. That’s the whole point.

    On one of the Israeli blogs I frequent, there’s an American liberal and gay man regularly commenting there who loves Israel. He’s absolutely sincere, but he bashes the religious in Israel, the Jewish inhabitants of Judea and Samaria, in short, lefty is as lefty does. When I try to find out what he loves about Israel, he says it’s the Tel-Aviv culture, the vibrancy and hipness… again, everything that’s not to my taste. It’s clear to me now we two have been locking horns not so much over opinions as tastes. It’s clear, not only because of what he likes about Israel, but because of what I like about America.

    I’m in love with smalltown America. The big, soulless, godless cities like New York and San Francisco make me recoil in distaste. Smalltown America, where everybody knew each other, played ball on God’s green earth and prayed together, is where my heart is. I mean, my heart is in my own country, of course, but the lifestyle I strive to live in my country is the same kind of lifestyle found in smalltown America, and not the Tel-Aviv and New York lifestyle the aforementioned lefty poster loves.

    I’m gushing in sentimental chatter, so forgive me, but I consider the rednecks to be the only true Americans. If it has been said, in the Jewish world, that the yeshivahs (religious academies) are “the manufacturing plant for the soul of the nation,” then I’d say that for smalltown America. One of the reasons why I’m such a Back To The Future freak (much to the annoyance of that lefty poster) is that I simply love watching those movies to catch every tiny detail of the 1955 Hill Valley, which is an epitome of smalltown America. In hindsight, even the 1985 Hill Valley, though contrasted with it, still embodies a lot of those values. Too bad the only things that look like coming true for 2015 are the sharp devaluation of the currency.

    The pain of this electoral loss, which looks as if it has escaped Rob, is the realization that the old-time American values, as exemplified by smalltown America, no longer infuse the American nation. The soul has been sucked out of the nation over the past few decades, between the time Merle Haggard wrote his song (in satire, to be sure, but many a true word is spoken in jest) and this November. Politically speaking it may not be so difficult to find a way to recover, but how do you regain the former soul of the nation? Character-building is a much harder endeavor than putting down a ballot box vote.

    By the way: Let nobody be deluded that when (not if) the financial cataclysm hits, Leftists in America would turn into conservatives. I no more believe it’ll happen than the Muslims living in hell-hole conditions and under tyrannical fists ever blame Islam for their predicament. Political conversion like religious conversion is a change of heart, not a rational process.

  48. david foster Says:

    Ziontruth…I think a lot of the political divisions in America are really the City Mouse versus the Country Mouse…where these two types are defined not only by place of residency, but by outlook.

    Re rednecks: someone I know (who is Jewish) remarked that Israelis are “Jewish rednecks”…which she definitely meant as a compliment.

  49. ziontruth Says:

    Well put, David Foster. I’d say there are two nations residing in the United States of America, two nations whose differences are not the ones usually thought about (race, class etc.) but in their vision of the horizon: The flag-waving, God-fearing, exceptionalist Free and the Brave, vs. the vapid, bland Citizens of the World who happen to reside in the United States of America.

    “Israelis as Jewish rednecks” is very apt as well. To be perfectly true, we have our Lennon-Imaginists as well (I did mention the Tel-Aviv culture), but while they seemed poised to carry the day in the 1990s, when peace with all Israel’s neighbors was “just around the corner,” in the 2000s their view got a hard clobbering from both the Arab enemy and Western Leftists who betrayed the many Israeli Jewish Leftists by sympathizing with Arab aggression at precisely the wrong moment, thus causing a great decimation of the Israeli Jewish Left, which unfortunately still retains virtual political sway through the MSM. That only goes to show how important the issue of information flow control is. I think all the doomsday scenarios regarding a permanent Leftist domination of the U.S.A. can be averted if conservatives manage to grab hold of the MSM megaphone and play it for their side the way the Marxists have done for so long. Problem is, I have no idea how this can be done legally.

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Previously a lifelong Democrat, born in New York and living in New England, surrounded by liberals on all sides, I've found myself slowly but surely leaving the fold and becoming that dread thing: a neocon.

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