Aug. 28, 2006

You Must Accept

by Kate Light

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Poem: "You Must Accept" by Kate Light from Gravity's Dream: New Poems and Sonnets. © West Chester University Poetry Center. Reprinted with permission. (buy now)

You Must Accept

You must accept that's who he really is.
You must accept you cannot be his
unless he is yours. No compromise.
He is a canvas on which paint never dries;
a clay that never sets, steel that bends
in a breeze, a melody that when it ends
no one can whistle. He is not who
you thought. He's not. He is a shoe
that walks away: "I will not go where you
want to go." "Why, then, are you a shoe?"
"I'm not. I have the sole of a lover
but don't know what love is." "Discover
it, then." "Will I have to go where you go?"
"Sometimes." "Be patient with you?" "Yes." "Then, no."
You have to hear what he is telling you
and see what he is; how it is killing you.

Literary and Historical Notes:

It was on this day in 1968 that riots erupted outside the Democratic National Convention in Chicago. It had already been one of the bloodiest years of the decade. That February, the North Vietnamese launched their devastating "Tet Offensive," which indicated that the Vietnam War was nowhere near over. Then, in April, Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated, sparking widespread riots. Two months later, Robert Kennedy was shot and killed at his victory party after the California primary.

In the wake of Robert Kennedy's murder, the Democratic Party establishment chose Vice President Hubert H. Humphrey as their candidate, but the anti-war faction of the party wanted Senator Eugene McCarthy. Thousands of college students and anti-war activists showed up at the convention to protest the choice of Humphrey and the Democratic Party's support of the war in Vietnam.

For the first two days of the convention, protesters shouted insults at the police and threw rocks and other objects. Then, on this day in 1968, the police responded by charging toward Grant Park where thousands of protestors were gathered, attacking everyone in their path with billy clubs and tear gas.

In his notebook that night, the reporter and historian Theodore White wrote, "The Democrats are finished." Hubert Humphrey lost the election to Richard Nixon that year. Before 1968, the Democrats had won seven of the nine presidential elections since 1932. In the ten presidential elections since 1968, Democrats have won only three.

Today is believed to be the date in 474 A.D. when the Western Roman Empire, which had lasted for almost five hundred years, came to an end as Emperor Romulus Augustulus was deposed by a barbarian.

One of the groups of barbarians responsible for the downfall was the Visigoths, who delivered a stunning defeat to the Romans at Adrianople. The Visigoths were superior warriors because they had invented a horse's saddle with stirrups, which made horses much more maneuverable. Other Germanic tribes began to move into the Roman Empire over the next several decades: the Vandals, the Burgundians, the Franks, the Angles, and the Saxons. Rome was sacked twice, first by Goths in 410 and again by Vandals in 455. By the time the emperor was deposed on this day in 474 A.D., the Roman Empire was in shambles.

Historians have been theorizing about the causes of the fall of Rome ever since. The most famous theory was one put forth in Edward Gibbon's multivolume work The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire (1776), which argued that the Christian Church was to blame. After Christianity became the official religion of the empire, the best and the brightest leaders became leaders of the church rather than leaders of the government or the military.

Another theory about the fall of Rome is that the aqueducts, which carried the water supply, were lined with lead, and so the Romans slowly went crazy. Some geologists believe that the eruption of Mount Vesuvius released so much ash into the air that it brought about great climatic changes, which ruined Roman agriculture and weakened the empire.

It's the birthday of Germany's great man of letters, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, (books by this author) born in Frankfurt (1749). In his lifetime, he was called "the greatest man the world has ever produced." The founder of German literature, he was also a politician, philosopher, geologist, botanist, anatomist, physicist, and historian of science.

His first novel was The Sorrows of Young Werther (1774). He wrote it in three months when he was twenty-five, and it made him famous. Goethe became one of the first writers to be interviewed extensively. Books of "Conversations with Goethe" were extremely popular. To get away from the attention of his success, he accepted a political appointment in Weimar, Germany. At the time it was a small, insignificant town, but Goethe helped make it into one of the artistic capitals of Europe. He spent about fifty years writing his masterpiece, Faust, about a man who sells his soul to the devil but gets into heaven anyway.

Goethe said, "One ought, every day at least, to hear a little song, read a good poem, see a fine picture, and if it were possible, to speak a few reasonable words."

Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.®




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