20 April 2010
By Justice Putnam
Black Kos, Tuesday's Chile Poetry Contributor
The Song which is America is harmonized by many diverse voices. Some of those voices sing America from an unbridled joy deep within them; while others sing America from the constant anguish brought by generation after generation suffering under the manacle and the lash; a sad refrain sung from that inner pain brought from the loss of ancestry and Home. The melodies of both interweave and play a coda on the landscape and the Soul of America.
It is on that landscape that the first faint strains of the Song that is America became the forceful tacet on an American Exceptionalism; a certainty of purpose and an almost religious devotion to save those not touched by our benevolence. It is the chorus singing that they must be saved and it's for their own good. As when...
A Missionary Brings a Young Native to America
All day she heard the mad stampede of feet
Push by her in a thick unbroken haste.
A thousand unknown terrors of the street
Caught at her timid heart, and she could taste
The city of grit upon her tongue. She felt
A steel-spiked wave of brick and light submerge
Her mind in cold immensity. A belt
Of alien tenets choked the songs that surged
Within her when alone each night she knelt
At prayer. And as the moon grew large and white
Above the roof, afraid that she would scream
Aloud her young abandon to the night,
She mumbled Latin litanies and dream
Unholy dreams while waiting for the light.
-- Helene Johnson