What is My Nation?


Capitaine MacMORRIS

Of my Nation? What ish my Nation? Ish a Villaine, and a Basterd, and a Knaue, and a Rascall? What ish my Nation? Who talkes of my Nation?

Shakespeare, Henry V

I mean, dude, where’s my country? We no longer see Abraham Lincoln in the motion pictures any more, and Washington is a tall fool: that homunculus John Adams replaces him: I know that Adams was the little smart guy and George Washington was the big dumb guy (“duh, tell me about the rabbits, George”): but myths tell the truth widdershins, and I grew up wanting a white horse with which to ride.

George Washington at the Battle of Princeton

John Ford created another big dumb guy who was really a smart guy, for they only thought Lincoln was slow bee-cuz he-un prolly tawlked lahk this. But who watches John Ford anymore? Edward R Murrow (the last talking head on TV to talk anything like the truth) said that “today” (1959) Lincoln would have been sent to remedial trade school, and given no credit for reading Blackstone. I read the collected works of Shakespeare in 1962 (except for The Merry Wives of Windsor) and they told me to get my trouble-making ass into the programmer trainee class at Time-Life Books.

A fatherless generation cathects today, in Spielberg’s HBO miniseries, to the false midrange fathers. As we say in Hong Kong, “the mountain is tall, and the Emperor is far away”, so the top brass in contemporary war pictures, except Malick’s. are Pete Longstreet or Stonewall Jackson to Martin Sheen’s ineffectual Granny Lee, and Chesty Pulller on Guadalcanal.

(In Malick’s Thin Red Line, all the fathers, they’ve gone down, and the commander is a monster out of WWI).

(Richard Yates, who served in WWII and wrote the novel Revolutionary Road that became the recent film, said that WWII was the father you could never please.)

What American kid even learns about Walt Whitman these days? Heck he was gay and probably withdrawn from the shelves, yet, one hundred years before I could chase the sun, flying from New York to San Francisco as the slow sunlight moved through the darkened murmuring jet plane, and see my country like an angel, Walt Whitman penned these lines:

Lo! body and soul! this land!
Mighty Manhattan, with spires, and the sparkling and hurrying tides, and the ships;
The varied and ample land—the South and the North in the light—Ohio’s shores, and flashing Missouri,
And ever the far-spreading prairies, cover’d with grass and corn.

Lo! the most excellent sun, so calm and haughty;
The violet and purple morn, with just-felt breezes;
The gentle, soft-born, measureless light;
The miracle, spreading, bathing all—the fulfill’d noon;
The coming eve, delicious—the welcome night, and the stars,
Over my cities shining all, enveloping man and land.

Who reads this shit anymore? These lines, however, created a nation even as the County Roland was said to lay himself down “sous en Pin” in the high Pyrenees and this made France, even as the Cid *Compreador* made Spain, even as Beowulf and Arthur, and their story, made Britain.

Saints and poets make cities and countries even as a saint fished for salmon in what became Edinburgh, and the “smart guys” can only destroy them…from Obama to Rick Perry, they are too clever by half and neither wise, nor intelligent, or even all that cunning.


Dumb question: why is there something rather than nothing, and where do you draw the line in the sand? Is Texas a republic again? As Steven Vincent Benet said of Daniel Webster:

“Yes, Dan’l Webster’s dead–or, at least, they buried him. But every time there’s a thunder storm around Marshfield, they say you can hear his rolling voice in the hollows of the sky. And they say that if you go to his grave and speak loud and clear, “Dan’l Webster–Dan’l Webster!” the ground’ll begin to shiver and the trees begin to shake. And after a while you’ll hear a deep voice saying, “Neighbor, how stands the Union?” Then you better answer the Union stands as she stood, rock-bottomed and copper sheathed, one and indivisible, or he’s liable to rear right out of the ground. At least, that’s what I was told when I was a youngster.”


Dumb answer: science and business have no answer, but poets do, but poetry today can hardly be heard inside rock and roll tunes. And if you don’t know poetry, then to fill the hole and to make your country whole, you join the Marines and go to Cuba, France, or Guadalcanal and get your fool ass blown to Kingdom Come fighting Spanyards, Germans or Japs mostly to make sure that bond-holders get paid on time.

Or you leave your wife and children or something stupid like that because you won’t open the door in you.

O we’re in a fix, for the Matter of Britain has become what’s the matter with Britain, the man with the head of an ass is no longer loved by the Faery Queen: the Germans with the blue eyes of heaven scare the shit out of us because of Hitler, China has lost the way to Heaven and the last legend, the United States, a thing both of the time of legends and the Enlightenment, is falling apart at the seams, and at the Mason-Dixon line.


One Response to “What is My Nation?”

  1. A mini epic this post, poetic and verbose,
    afflicted with a conflicted mind as I,
    read with hope and interest, and find
    an intellect that dissects
    the gross and morbid state
    that affects, over which
    endless debate prevents
    the actions which we need to take,
    how the worlds progress,
    and charts it on it’s steep and steady decline,
    is questionable at best.

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