Mayor Nichols was well before my time.
(He was, I read, a Swedenborgian;
I’ve always thought that to be somewhat strange,
Not that I would’ve held it against him.)
But I did proudly vote for both Lodges
Against both Kennedys. And I campaigned
For Bill Weld with a touch of nostalgia,
Quiet relief, and a spot of champagne.
What changed to make it all so strange to me?
It’s getting much harder to remember.
It must’ve been the Irish Catholics whose
Faces first seemed so unfamiliar.
We were at our best when we were fractured:
The party of Sumner more than Lincoln,
The party of well-ordered Northern souls
Varied and unyielding as the seasons.
But, glancing North to South, from Canada’s
Merciless winters, to Carolina’s
Breathless humility, we realize
Modesty is altogether finer.
Between mild May and bracing December
The Yankee mind is cold and fortified,
The Yankee heart is warm and temperate,
At peace, and by the other justified.
But can the Grand Old Party say the same?
Ah, once—yes! it was our bread and butter!
Now I have to qualify: “Speaking of
Republicans, I’m a Rockefeller.”
The Rockefeller Republican, so
Much defamed! Yet our sole sin is that we
Regard the household of continuance
No more than simple Christian charity.
And neither Conservative nor Liberal—
The needless choice of Recklessness or Sloth.
Quite like a train, to choose between the wheels
And engine only serves to derail both.
But with such fleeting hopes carried away
In the carpet bag of Senator Brown,
The half-hope Mitt Romney soundly beaten,
It’s over.—“Over”—unfamiliar sound!
Now here’s an old man’s self-conscious trifle
And let it be put down wholly in vain.
Righteous public fury is gone now, and
I don’t believe it will be seen again.
But, just as though I were to breathe my last,
I pledge my life, my labor, and my best—
And pledge whatever should survive my death—
To this Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
Books on the topic of this poem may be found in The Imaginative Conservative Bookstore.