I wrote the following while recovering from major surgery. I think it is if anything more relevant now than it was in ’04.
ODE: JANUARY, 2004
There is a national rhythm for each nation
Which abused gives rise to great fatigue;
Rhythm which like the national flag must be
Used sparingly. All else is emptiness
Filling non-existence with non-existence,
A country’s broken melody, silently
Keeping no time, out of time, silent,
And never more than as war roars.
Where harmony might be, is discontent;
Where a nation’s rhythm might be found
Is found instead great national weariness.
There is no song a poet might sing, right now.
Instead, brute earless ignorance would war
Against a winter’s weary world, pretending
to call the dance.
Stars will remember,
As years passed by;
Stars will remember,
And so will I:
Leaving a highway
For a street;
Leading a street
For a road,
Singing against the howl
Of black freezing wind;
Singing against the howl,
Coming home again,
And home again,
And children are found where shadows
Falling from shattered walls and windows
Exile the light, growing up never knowing
Flowers are calling unto a day of distance,
Wind and wild. Here too is rubble
Shored against ruins. Beloved poets,
Memory indeed shows so little respect
Before the look of a land, this season;
And ill fares a land, to hastening
Ills a prey, where wealth accumulates
Only for war, a world marked only for
Death, a people marked only for fear,
A people marked, for decay. Now,
All are tired and afraid, and I too
thirst, I thirst
But who was Democritus, after all?
Another human, all too human, ash
On air, at last. What was Alexandria,
After all, but scrolls in flames?
Tibet? Tibet? What is one Buddha
Cut into stone, before the newest
Truest shatter of maddened belief?
Old Savoy women still start morning
Fires with Corot rolls, Mayan bark
Libraries long gone ash on air and
Now? The latest dogs of war are loosed
On Baghdad of prehistory and artifact
To win the hearts and minds of all
A country’s crippledom. Now, see
The latest Ozymandias — cruel cold
sneer turned lying