August 20, 2002

In a fit of nostalgia I woke this morning recalling one of my favorite poems as a child. As an American remnant of the Irish diaspora, would it be a stretch to suggest its appeal for me is the result of some sort of atavistic hangover? (I can hear the snickers from here).

I doubt kids today read it. Educators would probably consider it too nationalistic and/or mawkish.

The Long Voyage by Malcolm Cowley

Not that the pines were darker there,
Nor mid-May dogwood brighter there,
Nor swifts more swift in summer air;

It was my own country.

Having its thunderclap of spring,
Its long midsummer ripening,
Its corn hoar-stiff at harvesting,
Almost like any country.

Yet being mine; its face, its speech,
Its hills bent low within my reach,
Its river birch and upland beech
Were mine, of my own country.

Now the dark waves at the bow
Fold back, like earth against the plow;
Foam brightens like the dogwood now
At home, in my own country.

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