Aesthetic Realism Online Library Poetry by Eli Siegel

A Day: The Continent Does Not Lie: The Election Goes On [1944]

A day,

And ballots were directed between two oceans,

And November's sun was Novemberish,

And autumn in America was present.

What the Pilgrims came for in 1620,

And what little Millicent smiled for in 1740

(Her smile did not continue),

Was fought for in November '44 and in murk.

Stalingrad had been fought,

And Kansas had in its way,

And in murk, applauded.

Smile, America, as elections go on their way.

Let your plains go into booths,

Let your mountains manage machines.

Millions of men and women, each with a heart,

Each after Chancellorsville, Appomattox, and Bunker Hill, and Voronezh,

Went from their homes,

And came back successful.

The greasy lie born amid chromium,

The smirk of acquisition,

The fraud of skyscrapers, dishonoring,

Got a shellacking from the plains, the creeks, the ponds, the ravines, of a learning continent.

Mid-America, make skyscrapers honorable.

Mid-America, honor the inherencies of chromium.

Mid-America, let advertising, the oily editorial, the paunched complacence,

Dissolve, handsomely, in November vapors.

The election goes on.

America is not through.

The meaning of the dead at Chancellorsville, the wounded at Gettysburg, the advancing at Bunker Hill, the holding at Bunker Hill, the scurrying at Lexington, the courage near the Baltic, Sevastopol,

Has to seize, envelope the Tennessee, the Ohio, the Hudson, the Columbia, and New York City wards.

Let the smug smile

Interfering with the direction of the

Mayflower,

The subtle tremendousness of the

Alleghenies,

The kindness of alfalfa,

The wonder of oil,

The opulence in tenderness of land west of St. Louis—

Let that smile change into harsh strictness,

Making America stand up,

And a red-haired child applaud.

The election goes on.

The election will.

Roosevelt remains,

Dewey has a retreating rump,

His mustache is in a defeated twitter,

His youthful rascality will dissolve in teamsters' mud,

West of the Tennessee,

And east.

The election goes on.

America goes on speaking.

It is the job of America to cross the

Atlantic again,

To traverse the Pacific gaily.

It is the job of America to stand for the world,

Delicately to represent any planet.

America is the past.

America is the poetry of topography deep in time.

It is the job of America to bring itself to Europe and to Asia and to stars, including that star.

Her creeks will mingle with Paris,

Her wheat with Vienna,

Her grass with Moscow,

And her heavens with London and Aachen.

America peers forth in its elections.

Sometimes its face is smudged.

Sometimes its jaw is broken.

But the continent is there.

Continents don't lie,

And the Deweys, the Polks, the Buchanans

Will scurry dismally and vanish as teamsters' mud dries in a continental sun.

We shake your hand in haze, America.

Your face will shine forth, the smudge will have its place,

But the face will be pre-eminent,

And the body go along.

Trees spoke in this election.

The grass made known its sentiments.

Nebraska bushes met a Vienna hof,

Tennessee bends saluted a Moscow square,

And Arizona space was good to London areas and Sussex vegetation in mist.

America need no longer be come to.

America is going places.

What it stands for is on the move.

Its vegetation is in an uproar.

Its plains are proud.

Its mountains are resolved.

The election goes on.

America is not through.

The world is waiting.

It will wait successfully.

Continents do not lie.

The land and sky will become the mind's

And Americans as they are will have and be and be and have the continent that does not lie:

Its industry, its plains, its wonder and its land;

The wounds of Chancellorsville, the dead at Gettysburg, the direction of the Mayflower,

The Mississippi as one,

The Atlantic as friend,

The world that has reached 1944,

The industry here,

Love at elections there,

And there and here and the continent,

Its industry, its land, its Mayflower, its Roosevelt, its wounds, its past, and its this, that goes on and goes on and reaches this,

Now when the election has been beautiful,

And goes on,

Now, too, when the continent is still being a continent, disposed, my friends, not to lie, not to lie.