Our Poets Shall Be Our Common Referees

Francis Scott Key observing Fort McHenry, painting by Edward Percy Moran, 1905

This post is my belated gift for the 243rd birthday of the United States of America. As I pondered on the nation’s history, I discovered some things I didn’t know. I wish to share these things with you. These things have a connection with the teachings of the New Message from God.

Our poets shall be our common referees

My fellow American, poet Walt Whitman (1819-1892) wrote the final version of the poem “By Blue Ontario’s Shore” in 1881. The above picture is from that very year. It is a lengthy poem, sweeping over the past fifty years or so. I consider one of the main ideas of this poem to be “America needs poets.” In stanza 9 of 20 stanzas, he writes the following:

Of all races and eras these States with veins full of poetical stuff 
most need poets, and are to have the greatest, and use 
them the greatest,
Their Presidents shall not be their common referee so much as 
their poets shall.

It took a while to find our anthem

John Stafford Smith (1750-1836), composer of the melody of “The Star-Spangled Banner”

Our poets shall be our common referees. I recently discovered that “The Star-Spangled Banner” did not become the national anthem of the United States of America until 1931. My fellow American, Francis Scott Key, wrote what was then called “The Defense of Fort M’Henry” in 1814. Francis Scott Key was a lawyer by trade. He is much more well-known for this poem than for any case he argued in any court.

Why did it take so long? There are multiple reasons. One was that the melody was the melody to a song called “To Anacreon in Heaven,” a song about drinking and sex. The end of every verse speaks of the entwining of the myrtle of Venus (the Roman goddess of love) and Bacchus’s vine (Bacchus being the Roman god of wine). Some people considered the melody to have ignoble connotations, and thus unacceptable for a national anthem. But the song eventually fell out of fashion, and the associations faded. Another reason was that it was unclear whether there would be a United States at all during the season of the Civil War of 1861-1865. A third reason was that there were other candidates for a national anthem, such as “My Country ‘Tis of Thee, (written in 1831)” “The Battle Hymn of the Republic,” (written in 1861), and “America the Beautiful” (written in 1895).

Let this be our motto “In God is our trust”

Postage stamp quoting the fourth verse of “The Star-Spangled Banner”

Our poets shall be our common referees. Many people are unaware that “The Star-Spangled Banner” has four verses. The fourth verse answers the question at the end of the first verse. “O say, does that star-spangled banner yet wave, o’er the land of the free and the home of the brave?”

Oh! thus be it ever, when freemen shall stand  
Between their loved homes and the war’s desolation, 
Blest with vict’ry and peace, may the Heav’n – rescued land 
Praise the Pow’r that hath made and preserved us a nation.

Then conquer we must, for our cause is just, 
And this be our motto–“In God is our trust.” 
And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave 
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.

I believe that when “The Star-Spangled Banner” became our national anthem, all four verses of Francis Scott Key’s poem became national poetry. And 25 years later, the words “In God We Trust” became America’s official motto in 1956. Francis Scott Key functioned as one of America’s common referees.

Liberty to follow what I know

Our poets shall be our common referees. It was easy to see from the bloody aftermath of the French revolution (1789-1799) that unrestricted liberty had its drawbacks. I consider the greatness of America to be the liberty to follow what I know, the liberty to trust my deepest inclinations. The freedom of religion that America enshrined in its Constitution makes it possible for me to practice the New Message from God.

It took 117 years for the Star-Spangled Banner to become our national anthem. Right now, people are writing anthems for a unified humanity. Who knows, perhaps one of those anthems will be the anthem of Planet Earth in the year 2136.

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Welcome to Mystery of Ascension! Добро пожаловать в Тайну просветления! We document the study of the New Message from God in general, and the book Steps to Knowledge in particular. Мы тут делимся своим опытом изучения Нового Послания от Бога, в общем, и книги Шаги к Знанию в частности. Find out more about us here. Узнайте больше о нас здесь. Find out how to contact us here. Узнайте, как связаться с нами здесь.

Why Should It Need All The Love I Can Give?

The song “Climb Ev’ry Mountain” from the movie “The Sound of Music”

I have tried on more than one occasion, to give a definition of the word “know” as used by Steps to Knowledge. Steps to Knowledge is the book of spiritual practice of the New Message from God.

If you don’t act, you don’t know

Wang-yang-ming (1472-1529) Chinese philosopher, official, educationist, calligraphist and general 

Many people say that knowing something is the experience of something being self-evident. On the other hand, many people have experiences of things being self-evident, but are unmoved to take action. I consider this to be to be unworthy of the word “knowing.” Chinese philosopher Wang-yang-ming (1472-1529) wrote “There is no knowledge which does not lead to action. If one knows but does not act, then one does not really know.”

What is worthy of my life and fortune?

Why should it need all the love I can give?
The Signing of the Declaration of Independence, painted by John Trumbull 1826

Say what you will about the signers of the Declaration of Independence. They mutually pledged to the support of the Declaration “their lives, their fortunes and their sacred honor.” History records that they acted on that pledge, and lived with the consequences. I say that for all his flaws, Thomas Jefferson knew something. Thomas Jefferson knew “All men are created equal.”

Why should it need all the love I can give?

Why should it need all the love I can give?
Patricia Neway and Mary Martin in the 1959 Broadway production of “The Sound of Music”

Climb Ev’ry Mountain” was written in 1959 by Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II. It appeared at the end of the first act of the Broadway musical “The Sound of Music.” The musical is based on the real-life story of Maria von Trapp. The song is sung by the Mother Abbess of a convent, to Maria, who is conflicted between her spiritual aspirations and her feelings for Captain Georg von Trapp. Here are some of the lyrics:

Climb every mountain,
Ford every stream,
Follow every rainbow,
‘Til you find your dream!

A dream that will need
All the love you can give
Every day of your life
For as long as you live!

I have offered a description of knowing as “an experience of something being self-evident which inspires consistent action.” I have suggested that knowing might be “to hold something to be self-evident, and to contribute to the support of that something one’s life, one’s fortune, and one’s sacred honor.” I now write words I have never written before. I consider that to know something means “to experience something as self-evident, and needing all the love I can give.”

How can such a thing even be? If something is self-evident, how can it possibly need all the love I can give? And yet, I say it was Thomas Jefferson’s experience that even though the idea “All men are created equal” was self-evident to him, it needed all the love he could give. Things that are self-evident to me might be gobbledygook to others.

Someone is reading this and asking “Well, Douglas, by the description you have provided, what do you know?” Do I dare to say I know anything? There might be a couple of things. Autistic people can be contributors to humanity. There is a New Message from God in the world.

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Welcome to Mystery of Ascension! Добро пожаловать в Тайну просветления! We document the study of the New Message from God in general, and the book Steps to Knowledge in particular. Мы тут делимся своим опытом изучения Нового Послания от Бога, в общем, и книги Шаги к Знанию в частности. Find out more about us here. Узнайте больше о нас здесь. Find out how to contact us here. Узнайте, как связаться с нами здесь.