There are many, many poems about America and its ideals, some glowing, some militaristic or cynical, celebratory or sad.
But this year, as our country struggles loudly with itself and clutches a past that never was while striving for a future that finally seems possible, this poem—written by an Englishman who was not thinking of us—seems to contain the whole of our history from that first day of declaration to this:
Of Old Sat Freedom of the Heights
(Alfred, Lord Tennyson)
Of old sat Freedom on the heights,
The thunders breaking at her feet:
Above her shook the starry lights:
She heard the torrents meet.
Then stept she down thro’ town and field
To mingle with the human race,
And part by part to men reveal’d
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