The Poetry Question

Discovering the Relevance of Words

QOTD – July 4th – Let’s Blow it Up for ‘Merica, and then Sweep it Up for America.

I Hear America Singing
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Walt Whitman (from Leaves of Grass, first published in the 1867 edition)
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I hear America singing, the varied carols I hear;
Those of mechanics—each one singing his, as it should be, blithe and strong;
The carpenter singing his, as he measures his plank or beam,
The mason singing his, as he makes ready for work, or leaves off work;
The boatman singing what belongs to him in his boat—the deckhand singing on the steamboat deck;
The shoemaker singing as he sits on his bench—the hatter singing as he stands;
The wood-cutter’s song—the ploughboy’s, on his way in the morning, or at the noon intermission, or at sundown;
The delicious singing of the mother—or of the young wife at work—or of the girl sewing or washing—
Each singing what belongs to her, and to none else;
The day what belongs to the day—
At night, the party of young fellows, robust, friendly,
Singing, with open mouths, their strong melodious songs.

To me, Whitman has it right. It’s not the fact that today is “Independence Day,” it’s the fact that people come together on a daily basis to do their jobs, and work hard to maintain their part of this Apple Pie America. Unfortunately, at times, like the 4th of July, we seem to forget that it’s not about turning our country into a wasteland of leftover fireworks debris, but about the fact that we fought so hard to accomplish a goal, and succeeded in making this country ours. But still, we persist to muck it up, day after day.

I’m not making a political statement, because I am no politician. I’m not making a religious statement, because I’m not a man of religious preference, nor is this a religious holiday. I’m making a statement of pride and respect for the neighbors, friends, family, countrymen that we all have, and all seem to neglect on a regular basis.

If you want to celebrate the 4th of July by blowing things up for ‘merica, at least understand the pride behind each sparkler and mortar you light. Understand that it’s not just the explosion, but the way you sweep it up when you’re done that shows your respect for the country in which you live.

With that in mind, your Question of the Day:

What does the 4th of July mean to you?

About Christopher Margolin

Chris Margolin spent more than a decade in Education as a high school English teacher, and is now an Instructional Coach for the Longview School District. He is also the founder of The Poetry Question, an online journal which focuses on reviews of small press poetry publications, and runs a regular series called "The Power of Poetry," where notable poets share their personal stories of how poetry has affected their lives. Margolin resides in Vancouver, Washington with his wife, and daughter.

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