blog description

Old women talk about old things: history, myth, magic and their
checkered pasts, about what changes and what does not.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

How I Met Alexander Hamilton

For his birthday, our least appreciated member of the American Trinity:
Washington, Jefferson -- and Alexander Hamilton, the "bastard brat" who didn't start life
owning a plantation.
Hamilton was the man who miraculously managed to pay off a crippling war time deficit budget,
encouraged the introduction of new, innovative industries, and figured out how to run a brand
new radical social experiment on a shoestring by minimally taxing--gasp--the rich!

 (Where are your inheritors now?)

In a dim '50's bookshop,
where a huge, bad-tempered charcoal
cat with yellow eyes glared in the sepia shadow
of a fly specked window,
I found you.

A worn olive drab
with a bold gold title
on antique spine, the date, 1902.
Mother must have bought you,
because the cost was a whole $2.

There was a black and white
reproduction of
a painting by Trumbell,
and there you were!

You—ecstatic, thin, red head thrown back,
face shining, 1776 on fire!
No wonder your new friends,
fellow aides-de-camp to the great
George Washington, nicknamed
you “The Little Lion.”

Accustomed to escape like this,
I read and read, oddly compelled to
struggle through a dense jungle
of Edwardian prose,
the work of a once lauded,
but now forgotten
Lady Novelist.

Oh, but how well she knew you!
Baby-faced orphan who withstood the scorn
of a world where you were “baseborn,”
who held on somehow,
to your God Inside.

1 comment:

  1. Well, now I will have to read about Hamilton! Beautiful poem, Juliet. My favorite metaphor is the dense jungle of Edwardian prose. I love to get lost in there, occasionally.
    Happy New Year, btw. - Lari Jo