Shine, Perishing Republic
by Robinson Jeffers
While this America settles in the mould of its vulgarity, heavily thickening to empire,
And protest, only a bubble in the molten mass, pops and sighs out, and the mass
I sadly smiling remember that the flower fades to make fruit, the fruit rots to make
Out of the mother; and through the spring exultances, ripeness and decadence; and
home to the mother.
You making haste haste on decay: not blameworthy; life is good, be it stubbornly long
A mortal splendor: meteors are not needed less than mountains: shine, perishing
But for my children, I would have them keep their distance from the thickening
Never has been compulsory, when the cities lie at the monster’s feet there are left the
And boys, be in nothing so moderate as in love of man, a clever servant, insufferable
There is the trap that catches noblest spirits, that caught—they say—God, when he
walked on earth.
From “The Spirit of Place”–D.H. Lawrence
Those Pilgrim Fathers and their successors never came here for freedom of worship. What did they set up when they got here? Freedom, would you call it?
They didn’t come for freedom. Or if they did, they sadly went back on themselves.
All right then, what did they come for ? For lots of reasons. Perhaps least of all in search of freedom of any sort: positive freedom, that is.
They came largely to get away - that most simple of motives. To get away. Away from what? In the long run, away from themselves. Away from everything. That’s why most people have come to America, and still do come. To get away from everything they are and have been.
‘Henceforth be masterless.’
Which is all very well, but it isn’t freedom. Rather the reverse. A hopeless sort of constraint. It is never freedom till you kind something you really positively want to be. And people in America have always been shouting about the things they are not. Unless, of course, they are millionaires, made or in the making.