O Say Can the Beautiful

Our country has two anthems. One the official, bloodstained tribute. One the dream we have yet to earn.

For the Star Spangled Banner still tramples on the hireling and the slave in this beautiful land where grace and blood are shed in equal measure.

If we could change that song which so proudly trumpets our stains, I do not think we could choose a better way to represent this country as it is:

A celebration of bloody victory Set to a British drinking song Hatred and scorn hidden In the stanzas left unsung.

And yet, “O beautiful!” for scornèd life Whose hungry, joyous souls Out of deepest pain, and impossible strife Made this country whole! “America! America! God shed His grace on thee!” No less now, we need it how The river feeds the sea.

For we are not the only city — but one of many in the world and time — which lasts only as long as mercy decrees.

The Holy Roman Empire fell, and so could we, even as we sing:

O say, Can you see, The land of the beautiful, America!

Thank you for reading. This poem was written in a distracted fever in between time with family on the fourth of July. It was inspired by my deeply conflicted feelings for my country, which is deeply beautiful and deeply flawed. If you liked it, I'd recommend listening to Jimi Hendrix's Star Spangled Banner, or Keb Mo's America the Beautiful.


I greatly regret that I will most likely never be able to meet you, dear reader, in person, and shake your hand. But perhaps we can virtually shake hands via my newsletter, social media, or a cup of coffee sent over the wire. They are poor substitutes, but they can be a real grace in this intractable world.

Send me a kind word or a cup of coffee:

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