Saturday, April 19, 2008

Patriot Day

Grant Wood. The midnight ride of Paul Revere. 1931. New York City.
Wood’s painting seems like a playscape of children’s toys placed to form a village. It is extremely well lit in this pristine magical midnight. The smoothness of the trees and knolls, and the castellum hills behind a huge and pointy steeple which dwarves our hero, who rides a steed from a carnival’s carousel. The clarion call for battle readiness does not register in the paint.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s
Paul Revere’s Ride begins,
LISTEN, my children, and you shall hear
Of the midnight ride of Paul Revere,
On the eighteenth of April, in Seventy-Five;
Hardly a man is now alive
Who remembers that famous day and year.
and ends,
So through the night rode Paul Revere;
And so through the night went his cry of alarm
To every Middlesex village and farm, --
A cry of defiance and not of fear,
A voice in the darkness, a knock at the door,
And a word that shall echo forevermore!
For, borne on the night-wind of the Past,
Through all our history, to the last,
In the hour of darkness and peril and need,
The people will waken and listen to hear
The hurrying hoof-beat of that steed,
And the midnight-message of Paul Revere.
The War for American Independence began in Middlesex county, Massachusetts at the battles of Concord and Lexington, the 19th of April 1775. All the colonists were not united. There were two political parties in English/British politics: the Conservative Tories and the Liberal Whigs. The war was fought for the cause of maintenance of rights and freedoms versus governmental power. The Liberals defined, themselves and american history records them, as Patriots. Yes, the liberals were patriots. The conservatives preferred british hegemony.

To-day we have the sad situation, where those who most loudly proclaim themselves as patriots, approve of greater governmental power, versus citizens’ rights. These faux patriots use the word ‘liberal’ in contempt or as a calumnious accusation. We have the obscene naming of missiles as patriots. We have an obscene governmental act bearing that name. These measures, this regime has instituted upon us, are akin to those practices that caused the rebellion that gave birth to this nation.

Ralph Waldo Emerson’s Concord Hymn of 1837 begins with the quatrain:
By the rude bridge that arched the flood,
Their flag to April’s breeze unfurled;
Here once the embattled farmers stood;
And fired the shot heard round the world.
That shot was fired by an anxious soldier, history does not know whether he was a yankee farmer or a lobsterback. The english were more disciplined, but that does not prove the argument. That shot began the war. The colonies, eventually united (and with foreign aid and troops, especially french) and overcame the british empire.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

this paintin rocks