The Presidential Debates: A Poetic … Summation?

Finally.

The debates are over. Finis. Whoopee. Yeehaw. In briefest summary, their sole accomplishment has been to redefine the concept of ‘dismal.’ Why is that? Whatever happened to the notion of comparing ideas? Of exploring the concept of Excellence rather than the dismal side of hatred-driven politics? Whatever happened to that constitutional idea of “a more perfect union”?

Back in the late 1800’s, British poet William Watson wrote about ‘Excellence,’ the concept and its impact on thought, presumably on actual attainment processes as well. A quick perusal reinforms the damaged mind on both the concept AND the consequence(s) of Excellence. A more patient and thoughtful read can, I’ve found, effectually rewrite the mind’s vision of what should perhaps be the basis of an honest political debate, perhaps even of a viable governing philophy.

The Things That Are More Excellent

As we wax older on this earth,
Till many a toy that charmed us seems
Emptied of beauty, stripped of worth,
And mean as dust and dead as dreams
For gauds that perished, shows that passed,
Some recompense the Fates have sent,
Thrice lovelier shine the things that last,
The things that are more excellent.

Tired of the Senate’s barren brawl,
An hour with silence we prefer,
Where statelier rise the woods than all
Yon towers of talk at Westminster. [or Washington?] 
Let this man prate and that man plot,
On fame or place or title bent:
The votes of veering crowds are not
The things that are more excellent.

Shall we perturb and vex our soul
For “wrongs” which no true freedom mar,
Which no man’s upright walk control,
And from no guiltless deed debar?
What odds though tonguesters heal, or leave
Unhealed, the grievance they invent?
To things, not phantoms, let us cleave
The things that are more excellent.

Nought nobler is, than to be free:
The stars of heaven are fret because
In amplitude of liberty
Their joy is to obey the laws.
From servitude to freedom’s name
Free thou thy mind in bondage pent;
Depose the fetich, and proclaim
The things that are more excellent.

And in appropriate dust be hurled
That dull, punctilious god, whom they
That call their tiny clan the world,
Serve and obsequiously obey:
Who con their ritual of Routine,
With minds to one dead likeness bleat,
And never ev’n in dreams have seen
The things that are more excellent.

To dress, to call, to dine, to break
No canon of the social code,
The little laws that lacqueys make,
The futile decalogue of Mode,
How many a soul for these things lives,
With pious passion, grave intent! 
While Nature careless-handed gives
The things that are more excellent.

To hug the wealth ye cannot use.
And lack the riches all may gain,
O blind and wanting wit to choose,
Who house the chaff and burn the grain,
And still.doth life with starry towers
Lure to the bright, divine ascent!
Be yours the things ye would: be ours
The things that are more excellent.

The grace of friendship–mind and heart
Linked with their fellow heart and mind;
The gains of science, gifts of art;
The sense of oneness with our kind;
The thirst to know and understand
A large and liberal discontent:
These are the goods in life’s rich hand,
The things that are more excellent.

In faultless rhythm the ocean rolls,
A rapturous silence thrills the skies;
And on this earth are lovely souls,
That softly look with aidful eyes.
Though dark, O God,
Thy course and track. I think
Thou must at least have meant
That nought which lives should wholly lack
The things that are more excellent.

Touché.

Since the Conventions last summer, we have seen little if any binary discussion of goals that might enhance the ‘Excellence’ of American life in general. In fact, the Trumpian side of this electoral contest has completely avoided any discussion of any kind on the matter of ‘Excellence,’ dwelling instead on matters that define its precise opposite, i.e. concepts designed to solely inspire hate and fear amongst its acolytes. Very disappointing.

I find it interesting — and fascinating — that more than one hundred and fifty years ago, Emily Dickinson defined Trump’s collective debate (and campaign) performance — and probably the entire of his functional ‘personality’ — when she wrote:

He preached upon “Breadth” till it argued him narrow —
The Broad are too broad to define
And of “Truth” until it proclaimed him a Liar —
The Truth never flaunted a Sign —

Simplicity fled from his counterfeit presence
As Gold the Pyrites would shun —
What confusion would cover the innocent Jesus
To meet so enabled a Man!

‘Counterfeit presence’ indeed! Either Dickinson had run across an early version of Trump years prior to the Civil War, or she was possessed by an extremely and amazingly prescient mind!

In the final analysis, then, it is now my carefully considered opinion (conclusion?) that the 2016 Presidential Debates can and will be forever judged as a complete and total substantive failure, and all because of the juvenile mentality and the implicitly vicious and vitriolic nature of the Republican candidate for POTUS: Donald J. Trump. I do hope that we the people have finally witnessed and sampled — this year, 2016 — the absolute dregs of American political debate. And though it’s an extremely long climb to even regain the middle of its severe downhill slope, I do indeed suggest that the quest for political Excellence be immediately initiated. Meanwhile, words penned by Wm. Wordsworth in Intimations of Immortality) appear to be an adequate summary of this day’s political dilemma:

The Pansy at my feet
Doth the same tale repeat:
Whither is fled the visionary gleam?
Where is it now, the glory and the dream?

******

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About frugalchariot

How Frugal is the Chariot That bears the Human soul. (Emily Dickinson)
This entry was posted in Election 2016, Poetry, Politics. Bookmark the permalink.

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