Once again, with thanks to J. Patrick Lewis for providing us with this poem to reflect on the occasion.
Ballad for Martin Luther King
Ten thousands join ten thousands
Without goading police.
The singers sing, their anthems ring,
The speakers speak their peace.
Around the world astonishment—
The ceremonies heard
Or seen on every continent,
And still to come: The Word.
Spectators waving handkerchiefs,
Small children, hearts to seize,
Will tell it taller years from now,
Grandchildren at their knees.
Blue sunshine worships morning,
No cloud will dare to rain
For in his jacket mercy
And in his pocket pain.
Equality his brother
And sisterhood his pride
Meet common sense, nonviolence,
The means he’s deified.
The afternoon is dying down,
The Reverend takes the stage.
George Washington spreads out the book,
Abe Lincoln turns the page.
He reads his notes religiously,
An old familiar theme.
“But please, Martin,” Mahalia yells,
“Tell ‘em about the dream!”
And first he puts away his speech
Then sweeps away the crowd:
The memory of his remarks
Peals like a thundercloud.
“The content of our character”
Personifies a sage.
That day in 1963
Belongs to every age.
J. Patrick Lewis