How do poets observe Independence Day, July 4? Below are excerpts from eight poems, with links to the full text.
✭ Jimmy Santiago Baca's "Immigrants in Our Own Land":
We are born with dreams in our hearts,
looking for better days ahead.
At the gate we are given new papers,
our old clothes are taken
and we are given overalls like mechanics wear.
We are given shots and doctors ask questions.
Then we gather in another room
where counselors orient us to the new land
we will now live in. [. . .]
✭ Alberto Rios's "Day of the Refugios":
[. . .] My Fourth of July is from childhood,
Childhood itself a kind of country, too.
It's a place that's far from me now,
A place I'd like to visit again.
The Fourth of July takes me there. [. . .]
✭ Lawrence Ferlinghetti's "I Am Waiting":
I am waiting for my case to come up
and I am waiting
for a rebirth of wonder
and I am waiting for someone
to really discover America
and wail. [. . .]
✭ Langston Hughes's "Let America Be America Again":
[. . . ] O, let my land be a land where Liberty
Is crowned with no false patriotic wreath
But opportunity is real, and life is free
Equality is in the air we breathe. [. . .]
✭ Howard Nemerov's "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. [. . .]
✭ Robert Lowell's "Fourth of July in Maine":
[. . .] Civil Rights clergy face again
the scions of the good old strain,
the poor who always must remain
poor and Republicans in Maine,
upholders of the American Dream,
who will not sink and cannot swim—
[. . . .]
✭ Miller Williams's "Of History and Hope":
We have memorized America,
how it was born and who have been and where.
In ceremonies and silence we say the words,
telling stories, singing the old songs.
We like the places they take us. Mostly we do. [. . .]
✭ Maureen Doallas's "Red White and Blue":
[. . .] We live now for the freedom
of a day off to cook out and play
ball, to rock our neighborhoods
with our outlawed cherry bombs,
to jimmy sparklers from made-in
-China boxes. We'll be streaming
confetti on the Mall as we wait
for the sky to dim and fireworks
to turn the moon red white and blue.