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A Beautiful American Story


A Beautiful American Story

John de Graaf

When Hillary Clinton gave the commencement speech at her alma mater Wellesley College on May 26, her message of “Onward Together” reflected that of another Wellesley icon, Katharine Lee Bates, the woman who wrote the words to America the Beautiful. I believe that the story of Bates and her song can inspire, inform and unite us in these harsh and polarizing times.


"...till Selfish Gains / no longer Stain / the Banner of the Free."

What if they gave a "Capitalism" and no one came?


excellent piece (could omit opening and make it better yet)


"Make America Good, for once..."


By Allen Ginsberg

America I’ve given you all and now I’m nothing.
America two dollars and twentyseven cents January 17, 1956.
I can’t stand my own mind.
America when will we end the human war?
Go fuck yourself with your atom bomb.
I don’t feel good don’t bother me.
I won’t write my poem till I’m in my right mind.
America when will you be angelic?
When will you take off your clothes?
When will you look at yourself through the grave?
When will you be worthy of your million Trotskyites?
America why are your libraries full of tears?
America when will you send your eggs to India?
I’m sick of your insane demands.
When can I go into the supermarket and buy what I need with my good looks?
America after all it is you and I who are perfect not the next world.
Your machinery is too much for me.
You made me want to be a saint.
There must be some other way to settle this argument.
Burroughs is in Tangiers I don’t think he’ll come back it’s sinister.
Are you being sinister or is this some form of practical joke?
I’m trying to come to the point.
I refuse to give up my obsession.
America stop pushing I know what I’m doing.
America the plum blossoms are falling.
I haven’t read the newspapers for months, everyday somebody goes on trial for murder.
America I feel sentimental about the Wobblies.
America I used to be a communist when I was a kid I’m not sorry.
I smoke marijuana every chance I get.
I sit in my house for days on end and stare at the roses in the closet.
When I go to Chinatown I get drunk and never get laid.
My mind is made up there’s going to be trouble.
You should have seen me reading Marx.
My psychoanalyst thinks I’m perfectly right.
I won’t say the Lord’s Prayer.
I have mystical visions and cosmic vibrations.
America I still haven’t told you what you did to Uncle Max after he came over from Russia.
I’m addressing you.
Are you going to let your emotional life be run by Time Magazine?
I’m obsessed by Time Magazine.
I read it every week.
Its cover stares at me every time I slink past the corner candystore.
I read it in the basement of the Berkeley Public Library.
It’s always telling me about responsibility. Businessmen are serious. Movie producers are serious. Everybody’s serious but me.
It occurs to me that I am America.
I am talking to myself again.

Asia is rising against me.
I haven’t got a chinaman’s chance.
I’d better consider my national resources.
My national resources consist of two joints of marijuana millions of genitals an unpublishable private literature that jetplanes 1400 miles an hour and twentyfive-thousand mental institutions.
I say nothing about my prisons nor the millions of underprivileged who live in my flowerpots under the light of five hundred suns.
I have abolished the whorehouses of France, Tangiers is the next to go.
My ambition is to be President despite the fact that I’m a Catholic.

America how can I write a holy litany in your silly mood?
I will continue like Henry Ford my strophes are as individual as his automobiles more so they’re all different sexes.
America I will sell you strophes $2500 apiece $500 down on your old strophe
America free Tom Mooney
America save the Spanish Loyalists
America Sacco & Vanzetti must not die
America I am the Scottsboro boys.
America when I was seven momma took me to Communist Cell meetings they sold us garbanzos a handful per ticket a ticket costs a nickel and the speeches were free everybody was angelic and sentimental about the workers it was all so sincere you have no idea what a good thing the party was in 1835 Scott Nearing was a grand old man a real mensch Mother Bloor the Silk-strikers’ Ewig-Weibliche made me cry I once saw the Yiddish orator Israel Amter plain. Everybody must have been a spy.
America you don’t really want to go to war.
America its them bad Russians.
Them Russians them Russians and them Chinamen. And them Russians.
The Russia wants to eat us alive. The Russia’s power mad. She wants to take our cars from out our garages.
Her wants to grab Chicago. Her needs a Red Reader’s Digest. Her wants our auto plants in Siberia. Him big bureaucracy running our fillingstations.
That no good. Ugh. Him make Indians learn read. Him need big black niggers. Hah. Her make us all work sixteen hours a day. Help.
America this is quite serious.
America this is the impression I get from looking in the television set.
America is this correct?
I’d better get right down to the job.
It’s true I don’t want to join the Army or turn lathes in precision parts factories, I’m nearsighted and psychopathic anyway.
America I’m putting my queer shoulder to the wheel.

Berkeley, January 17, 1956


A nice piece to take our minds off the dystopic nonsense making headlines these days. Thanx for the back story on Katherine Lee Bates. Keeping the separation of church and state has to be paramount in today's political arena and lately the ideology has been making headway against a secular society. The land won't be beautiful much longer if energy and mining industry has their way with all the proposals of more drilling and mining operations especialially on protected national lands. Let's keep America as beautiful as we can by eliminating all new extraction, dams, nuclear reactors, etc, from being carried out and preserve the remaining beauty of our country.


Thank you John de Graaf, for a well-written, timely, uplifting article. This is an excellent and positive reminder that there are things besides Trump that deserve our time and attention.


I've written a peaceful version of our awful blood thirsty national anthem. I would like to see an artist record it and publicize it on social media. I think it would catch on and people would start featuring it at public events, and those of us with moral integrity would no longer have to wince every time the anthem was sung. Here is my version:

O say can you see
by the dawn's early light
what so proudly we hailed
at the twilight's last gleaming?
Whose broad stripes and bright stars
through the perilous night
o'er the ramparts we watched
were so gallantly streaming.
And with peace everywhere
love is filling the air
as proof through the night
our nation's soul is still there.
O say does that star spangled
banner yet fly
o'er the land of the free
and the home of the kind?


Thank you, John de Graaf. And thank you, Katherine Lee Bates. Yes, when we return to recognizing and cultivating True wealth--not mere material aggrandizement--we make a beautiful world.

Thank you again, Katherine Lee Bates. I am grateful to know your name and a little of your Story.

Thanks to all the outlier ancestors ancestors like you. Thanks to all who carried this Dream forward through the Dark Ages, when all most humans could imagine was "selfish gain."

May those of us blessed to be incarnate now honor these great souls among the ancestors.

Perceiving that these times are made for rapid and startling developments, may we be BOLD in living the Dream NOW! May we exult in wild leaps beyond what we have been into what we must be.

Although the grand Dream of what can emerge through our current planetary evolutionary crisis might seem too large for us to dare, may we remember that we don't dare alone. Even if we are relatively isolated in our material location, we can draft on the vast flocks of True Dreamers before us.

We can stand strongly with the support of those who are coming after us. From the future, they sing to us of what we are bound to become. We can sing along, even if our voices tremble and tears pour down our cheeks.