Libertarian History/Philosophy

Poem to Read on the Fifth of July: Howard Nemerov's "Fourth of July"

|

With a hat tip to Eli Lake for bringing it to my attention.

Here's Howard Nemerov's wonderful poem "Fourth of July":

Because I am drunk, this Independence Night,
I watch the fireworks from far away,
from a high hill, across the moony green
Of lakes and other hills to the town harbor,
Where stately illuminations are flung aloft,
One light shattering in a hundred lights
Minute by minute. The reason I am crying,
Aside from only being country drunk,
That is, may be that I have just remembered
The sparklers, rockets, roman candles and
so on, we used to be allowed to buy
When I was a boy, and set off by ourselves
At some peril to life and property.
Our freedom to abuse our freedom thus
Has since, I understand, been remedied
By legislation. Now the authorities
Arrange a perfectly safe public display
To be watched at a distance; and now also
The contribution of all the taxpayers
Together makes a more spectacular
Result than any could achieve alone
(A few pale pinwheels, or a firecracker
Fused at the dog's tail). It is, indeed, splendid:
Showers of roses in the sky, fountains
Of emeralds, and those profusely scattered zircons
Falling and falling, flowering as they fall
And followed distantly by a noise of thunder.
My eyes are half-afloat in happy tears.
God bless our Nation on a night like this,
And bless the careful and secure officials
Who celebrate our independence now.

The poem appears at various places on the web (here's one and here's another and here it is at Google books in Nemerov's collected poems, which you can buy at Amazon.)

Question for Reason.com regulars: Do you find it at all interesting that the poem originally appeared in the June 30, 1956 edition of… The Nation?

NEXT: Sen. McCain Expected To Clash With House GOP Leaders Over Immigration Reform

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. The Fourth of July is a day we celebrate people completely not like us doing things we’d never do.

  2. WTF is it with all the pro-government intervention articles popping up on libertarian/classic liberal blogs?

    http://www.adamsmith.org/blog/…..qus_thread

    This one at ASI is pro opt-out for organ donations, as if the government owns us.

    1. What, I would not have ever expected such a fascist article to show up at ASI. Just because I die doesn’t mean that the state gets first pick of my assets. What’s next – inheritance taxes of 100%?

      The whole problem this idea is supposed to ameliorate is caused by *government* intervention in the first place and you propose to solve it with more government intervention.

      How about instead of breaking down generations of tradition and legal precedent in favor of allowing state ownership of people, we just legalize and open up a free market in organ trade.

      1. How about instead of breaking down generations of tradition and legal precedent in favor of allowing state ownership of people, we just legalize and open up a free market in organ trade[?]

        Money is icky. Even more icky than letting people die because of organ shortages.

      2. Because that will make it legal for surgeons to go around cutting organs out of poor people. Just like that Monty Python sketch!!

      3. God – you guys need to get over there.

        The dude has already said he has no problem (in theory) with taking the homes of the dead and redistributing them.

      4. First we need to figure out who owns your dead body. It’s not entirely clear.

  3. Last night I appreciated the irony of celebrating our freedom with fireworks, all the while we openly wondered whether our celebration could get us arrested.

    Land of the free?

    1. Freedom = Safety

  4. The poem appears at various places on the web (here’s one and here’s another and here it is at Google books in Nemerov’s collected poems, which you can buy at Amazon.)

    “Please don’t sue us”?

  5. Question for Reason.com regulars: Do you find it at all interesting that the poem originally appeared in the June 30, 1956 edition of… The Nation?

    “A corporation is an artificial being, invisible, intangible, and existing only in contemplation of law.” Dartmouth College v. Woodward, 17 U.S. 518, 635 (1819). IOW, personnel change, the entity carries on.

  6. And bless the careful and secure officials
    Who celebrate our independence now.

    First published at The Nation? I never would have guessed.

    Also, this reminds me of a nice little exercise in bootlicking I saw yesterday, in which the reader was treated to a description of “enhanced” security measures employed in Baaaaahstun, including quotes from “grateful” civilian sheeples gushing enthusiastically about how glad they were to be searched, sorted, supervised, and herded like barely sentient ungulates into their designated holding pens for the privilege of watching their state sponsored evening’s festivities.

    A grateful nation, indeed.

    1. Those founders of ours hailing from the Boston of yore would’ve appalled at the idea of being searched by the authorities during a celebration festival.

      THAT IS THE VERY SHIT THEY STARTED THE FUCKING REVOLUTION OVER!!!!!

      Now the descendants of those same brave souls welcome it with glee about how government would save their pants from being soaked with urine.

  7. Liberty was never meant to allow idiots to lose fingers.

    This year, one Independence Day celebration involving a personal fireworks display saw a missile whiz by my head and ricochet off the windshield of my truck. No that’s America.

    1. A couple of years ago fireworks became legal in AZ again.

      Its a beautiful sight, going into a Walmart (not even a dedicated firework shop) and seeing a whole wall devoted to explosive mayhem.

      No more having to smuggle the stuff back across the border.

      1. It wasn’t legal where I was.

        1. But was it *wrong?

          1. Only if the rocket had smacked me in the kisser.

            1. We need a carbon tax to cover the externalities!

  8. It’s legal in KY now too, and I would have stopped at any number of fireworks stands yesterday to buy some stuff for the family, but our 4th was a washout of epic proportions.

    1. Lol yeah them Kentuckians sure like blowing shit up.

      I lived in Louisville for about 6 years and on the 4th of July it literally sounded like a war zone until ~2 AM

  9. Well, I’m glad to say that I saw no shortage of fireworks being shot off by private citizens last night.

  10. Looking beyond the political message, this poem is shit. There is no metrical structure here; the number of syllables and stresses is all over the map. The only thing that distinguishes poetry from rambling is meter. This ain’t poetry; it’s drunk rambling.

    1. Oh, come on-it’s free verse

    2. OMG! Now there are poem-nazis?

      Hey hey ho ho,
      NEA* has got to go.

      *National Endowment for the Arts, though I wouldn’t miss the others, either.

  11. I didn’t know Clinton and Leno had a B&W child.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.