Wednesday, November 05, 2014

"sail on, sail on, o mighty ship of state"

You can watch cable news tonight and obsess over all the minutiae of yesterday's midterm election and its predictable Republican gains, or you can keep these swings in perspective by listening to the song from Montreal's favorite anglophone son up above, or reading this poem from 1850 down below, which probably had at least a little bit of influence on the chorus in Leonard Cohen's "Democracy."

“The Republic” from “The Building of the Ship”
by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1850)

Thou, too, sail on, O Ship of State!
Sail on, O UNION, strong and great!
Humanity with all its fears,
With all the hopes of future years,
Is hanging breathless on thy fate!
We know what Master laid thy keel,
What Workmen wrought thy ribs of steel,
Who made each mast, and sail, and rope,
What anvils rang, what hammers beat,
In what a forge and what a heat
Were shaped the anchors of thy hope!
Fear not each sudden sound and shock,
’T is of the wave and not the rock;
’T is but the flapping of the sail,
And not a rent made by the gale!
In spite of rock and tempest’s roar,
In spite of false lights on the shore,
Sail on, nor fear to breast the sea!
Our hearts, our hopes, are all with thee,
Our hearts, our hopes, our prayers, our tears,
Our faith triumphant o’er our fears,
Are all with thee,—are all with thee!

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