14 December 2015

Inclinata resurgo

In sixteen ninety nine Bill Cowper sailed:
For Penn’s wood he was bound, from Yorkshire hailed;
From throne-usurping Dutchmen did he flee
Professing Jacobite recusancy.

In Fox’s Inner Light his faith was stowed
And progeny aplenty overflowed
From union with his treasured Thomasine:
Their children, six. The eldest of their gene
Was Jonathan. His grandsons fell to war
When revolution bayed at every door
And rent each household bloody at the seam.
Cruel Carolina seizèd, with extreme
Élan for her republic’s high-flown aim,
All property to Jacob’s Tory name.

In dearth, the South still claimed my kinsmen’s blood
As war between the states unleashed the floods
Of grim unholy mechanistic din
In answer to our forebears’ racial sins;
The colours Joseph Delan boldly bore
Are those today of shame. But we ignore
The tales of yesteryear at our own cost.
If we forget, what more can we have lost?

Black, white alike, the crop-lien held in thrall,
Yet Franklin Dero heard the Navy’s call
To arms at sea against the Japanese;
Pacific’s name in irony took lease.
Once home again, the druggist’s art he gained
And settled on Potomac’s southern bend.
To his last days he kept in mind his land,
And thanks be to his son, now, here I stand.

For worse or better, bent on further star,
We fell and rose in this damn fool devoir,
Yet never fit; in shadow-struggles we
Threw wrenches in the great machinery
And thrust our fists up dauntless at the State,
But always acquiesced in our own fate.
Who sups the Devil’s meat and drinks his wine,
None’s hand is clean who e’er came hence to dine.
And Scandian, Rhinelander, Wend and Jew,
This blood of other streams – they knew it too.

This shot-torn gore-stained strand I’m holding here,
For all its sordid story, no less dear
To me, still troubled, prompts to circumstance:
God help us all – we are Americans.

- Matthew Franklin Cooper, 14 December 2015

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