I am always awed by how the sentiments of a few words have the power to move one to joy or tears. Poetry has always pulled at my heartstrings and I have dabbled at it since I was a child. When I was just a little girl beginning to learn to read my teacher recognized my love of poetry and gave me a book that had become too tattered to keep on the school library shelves. It was "The Best Loved Poems of the American People." I still have that sad old book, even though I was given a new edition of it several years ago. It is an old friend that has seen me through many personal trials, triumphs, and heartaches. I can always find words there that speak to my soul. Next to the scriptures I think there is little else that has more more power to move one than poetry.
For this challenge I have chosen a poem by Ralph Waldo Emerson. It seems fitting at this time of national turmoil that we remember what makes a strong nation is really dependant on the character of its citizens.
A Nation's Strength
by Ralph Waldo Emerson
What makes a nation's pillars high
And it's foundations strong?
What makes it mighty to defy
The foes that round it throng?
It is not gold. Its kingdoms grand
Go down in battle shock;
Its shafts are laid on sinking sand,
Not on abiding rock.
Is it the sword? Ask the red dust
Of empires passed away;
The blood has turned their stones to rust,
Their glory to decay.
And is it pride? Ah, that bright crown
Has seemed to nations sweet;
But God has struck its luster down
In ashes at his feet.
Not gold but only men can make
A people great and strong;
Men who for truth and honor's sake
Stand fast and suffer long.
Brave men who work while others sleep,
Who dare while others fly...
They build a nation's pillars deep
And lift them to the sky.
You can find more of his poetry on Poets.org.