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True-blue Americans read beatnik poetry, too

As you can imagine, last week’s column about the poetry of John Milton went over well on The Dark Side. What you may not guess, though, is that in my social circles any discussion of poetry inevitably leads to the leftist poet, Delmore Schwartz.

It matters not whether it occurs in a high-brow salon or a low-brow saloon: Schwartz remains a favorite.

I’m an old man now, and I no longer can distinguish what’s hep from what’s square, if I ever could. But I do know that when I was a young man, reciting poetry was an effective way for young men to seduce young women.

I don’t know if that is still the case, but if it is, let me give some advice to the young men out there: forget the third-raters like Allen Ginsberg, and stick to the good stuff like Delmore Schwartz.

In honor of Mr. Schwartz, and keeping in mind that this is a conservative column in a legal publication and not a Greenwich Village poetry review, what follows is a revision of Schwartz’ most famous poem, “The True-Blue American,” about a little boy who one day is asked to choose between a chocolate sundae and a banana split:

David Ziemer was a true-blue American,

For he was a lawyer who understood America, for he felt that he must

Think about everything; because that’s all there is to think about,

Knowing immediately the intimacy of law and comedy,

Knowing intuitively how a sense of humor was a necessity

For one and for all who practice law in America. Thus, natively, and

Naturally when on an April Monday in a courthouse chamber Ziemer

Was requested to choose between a constitutional right to liberty of contract and meaningful limits on Congress’ power under the Commerce Clause

He answered unhesitatingly, having no need to think of it

Being a true-blue American, determined to continue as he began:

Rejecting the either-or of Kierkegaard, and many another European;

Refusing to accept alternatives, refusing to believe the choice of between;

Rejecting selection; denying dilemma; electing absolute affirmation: knowing

in his breast

The infinite and the gold

Of endless litigation, the deathless quest.

“Both: I will have them both!” declared this true-blue American

In Milwaukee, Wisconsin, on an April Monday, instructed

By the great department stores, by two-for-one happy hour specials,

Taught by Christmas, by the circus, by the vulgarity and grandeur of

Niagara Falls and the Grand Canyon,

Tutored by the grandeur, vulgarity, and infinite appetite gratified and

Shining in the darkness, of the light

Of double damages and attorney fees,

The consummation of the imagination of constitutional arguments

Which is as it was – the infinite belief in infinite hope – of Lochner, Kelo, Filburn, and David Ziemer.

Click here to read the original poem

One comment

  1. For some lawyers it’s Grail or Redeemer
    To be seen while out driving a Beemer.
    But the social disaster
    Of a Buick Roadmaster
    Is what’s hip, if your name’s David Ziemer.

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