May 25, 2007


The guiding thread through this week's Goat Rope has been selections from Walt Whitman's poem "Song of Prudence," which appeared in the 1856 2nd edition of Leaves of Grass (along with stuff on current events). If this is your first visit, please click on the earlier entries.

Whitman characteristically puts his own slant on the word prudence, which comes to mean a vast view of life in which is basically endless.

I decided to fill a week with this poem while remembering the death of a close friend and co-worker with whom I frequently discussed it. As we approach Memorial Day and remember the fallen, his message that the gulf between the living and the dead is not absolute seems to fit.

Here's the rousing conclusion:

What is prudence is indivisible,
Declines to separate one part of life from every part,
Divides not the righteous from the unrighteous or the living from the dead,
Matches every thought or act by its correlative,
Knows no possible forgiveness or deputed atonement,
Knows that the young man who composedly peril'd his life and lost it
has done exceedingly well for himself without doubt,
That he who never peril'd his life, but retains it to old age in
riches and ease, has probably achiev'd nothing for himself worth
Knows that only that person has really learn'd who has learn'd to
prefer results,
Who favors body and soul the same,
Who perceives the indirect assuredly following the direct,
Who in his spirit in any emergency whatever neither hurries nor
avoids death.

VOX POPULI. This item from the NY Times shows opposition to the war to be at an all time high. some excerpts:

Six in 10 Americans surveyed say the United States should have stayed out of Iraq, and more than three in four say that things are going badly there — including nearly half who say things are going very badly, the poll found....

A large majority of the public — 76 percent, including a majority of Republicans — say that the additional American troops sent to Iraq this year by Mr. Bush have either had no impact or are making things worse there. Twenty percent think the troop increase is improving the situation in Iraq.

A majority of Americans continue to support a timetable for withdrawal. Sixty-three percent say the United States should set a date for withdrawing troops from Iraq sometime in 2008.

Bush meanwhile "enjoys" a 30 percent approval/63 percent disapproval rating.

MINIMUM WAGE INCREASED. After more than 10 years of neglect, Congress finally raised the minimum wage in increments to $7.25. In a bizarre twist, for the last several weeks, the wage increase was linked to the bill funding the Iraq war, a move opposed by AFSC and many members of the Let Justice Roll Living Wage Coalition from the start.

WE'RE MUTANTS. West Virginians are pretty used to being statistical oddities. Here's a good commentary on the subject by Scott Finn of WV Public Broadcasting.

FIG TREE'S FAREWELL TO FALWELL. (How was that for alliteration?) Jim Lewis' latest edition of Fig Tree Notes muses on Jerry Falwell, Christopher Hitchens, The Wizard of Oz, Christianity and other topics.


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