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  • Glenn Sonnenberg

Musings from the Bunker 1/16/21


Happy weekend!


In this interregnum between the armed attack on our Capitol and the inauguration of our next president, it seems appropriate to diverge from the regular Saturday poetry and instead focus on the poetry of prose. The following are words that seem more appropriate today than they did just a few weeks ago. I thank Jeff Gates for passing on this poetry of Abraham Lincoln on the eve of the inauguration, in these challenging times.

From the Speech to the Young Men’s Lyceum in Springfield, Illinois (1838):

In the great journal of things happening under the sun, we, the American People…find ourselves in the peaceful possession, of the fairest portion of the earth, as regards extent of territory, fertility of soil, and salubrity of climate. We find ourselves under the government of a system of political institutions, conducing more essentially to the ends of civil and religious liberty, than any of which the history of former times tells us. We, when mounting the stage of existence, found ourselves the legal inheritors of these fundamental blessings. We toiled not in the acquirement or establishment of them--they are a legacy bequeathed us…'tis ours only, to transmit these, the former, unprofaned by the foot of an invader; the latter, undecayed by the lapse of time and untorn by usurpation, to the latest generation that fate shall permit the world to know. This task of gratitude to our fathers, justice to ourselves, duty to posterity, and love for our species in general, all imperatively require us faithfully to perform.

At what point shall we expect the approach of danger? By what means shall we fortify against it? Shall we expect some trans-Atlantic military giant to step the ocean and crush us at a blow? Never! All the armies of Europe, Asia and Africa combined could not, by force, take a drink from the Ohio or make a track on the Blue Ridge in a trial of a thousand years. At what point, then, is the approach of danger to be expected? I answer, [that] if it ever reach us, it must spring [from] amongst us; it cannot come from abroad. If destruction be our lot, we [ourselves must] be [the] author[s] and finisher[s]. As a nation of free men, we must live through all time[s], or die by suicide.

Let reverence for the [law] be breathed by every American mother to the lisping babe that prattles on her lap; let it be taught in schools, in seminaries, and in colleges; let it be written in primers, [in] spelling-books, and almanacs; let it be preached from the pulpit, proclaimed in legislative halls, and enforced in courts of justice. And, in short, let it become the political religion of the nation; and let the old and the young, the rich and the poor, the grave and the gay of all sexes and tongues and colors and conditions, sacrifice unceasingly [at] its altars.

Words of Thomas Jefferson quoted in the corridors of the Capitol

"Enlighten the people generally, and tyranny and oppressions of body and mind will vanish like evil spirits at the dawn of day."


Chris Martin (the lead singer from Coldplay) is “Together At Home” for a half hour:

Here’s another NPR Tiny Desk (Home) Concert, a short of three cello pieces in celebration of Beethoven on his 250th birthday:

Happy weekend,


PS: If the second two paragraphs of the Lincoln quote somehow seem familiar, it might be because they are spoken by the audio-animatronic Abe in “Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln” at Disneyland…

PPS: Saying goodbye to Sheldon Adelson, a paragon of philanthropy. While I found little in his politics with which to agree, he nonetheless was a paragon of civic-mindedness, caring for those in need, and philanthropy. The self-congratulatory moguls of Silicon Valley and the venture capital set could learn a lot from his example.

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