TCS: Freedom is a Dream – Rebels, Refugees, and Romantics

    Good Morning!


Welcome to The Coffee Shop, just for you early risers
on Monday mornings. This is an Open Thread forum,
so if you have an off-topic opinion burning a hole in
your brainpan, feel free to add a comment.


“Those who won our independence … valued
liberty as an end and as a means. They believed
liberty to be the secret of happiness and courage

to be the secret of liberty.”
            – Justice Louis D. Brandeis

“I think of a hero as someone
who understands the degree
of responsibility that comes
with his freedom.”
         – Bob Dylan


Fourteen poets have birthdays this week! So without further ado:


November 27

1909 – James Agee born, American novelist, poet, journalist, screenwriter, and influential film critic; noted for film scripts for The African Queen (1951) and The Night of the Hunter (1955), the novel A Death in the Family, which won a 1958 Pulitzer Prize, and Let Us Now Praise Famous Men, a collaboration with American photographer Walker Evans, which documented the lives of three poor tenant farmer families during the Great Depression. Agee died of a heart attack at age 45 in May 1955.

Sure On This Shining Night

by James Agee

Sure on this shining night
Of star made shadows round,
Kindness must watch for me
This side the ground.
The late year lies down the north.
All is healed, all is health.
High summer holds the earth.
Hearts all whole.
Sure on this shining night I weep for wonder wand’ring far
Of shadows on the stars.

“Sure  On This Shining Night” from Permit Me Voyage, © 1934 by James Agee – Yale University Press


1942 – Marilyn Hacker born, American poet, translator, and critic; her poetry collection, Presentation Piece, won the National Book Award, and her translation of King of a Hundred Horsemen, by Marie Étienne, won the 2009 PEN Award for Poetry in Translation. She also won the 1996 Poet’s Prize for Selected Poems 1965-1990.


by Marilyn Hacker

     for Fadwa Soleiman

Said the old woman who barely spoke the language:
Freedom is a dream, and we don’t know whose.
Said the insurgent who was now an exile:
When I began to write the story I started bleeding.

Freedom is a dream, and we don’t know whose—
that man I last saw speaking in front of the clock tower
when I began to write the story?  I started bleeding
five years after I knew I’d have no more children.

That man I last saw speaking in front of the clock tower
turned an anonymous corner and disappeared.
Five years after I knew I’d have no more children
my oldest son was called up for the army,

turned an anonymous corner and disappeared.
My nephew, my best friend, my second sister
whose oldest son was called up for the army,
are looking for work now in other countries.

Her nephew, his best friend, his younger sister,
a doctor, an actress, an engineer,
are looking for work now in other countries
stumbling, disillusioned, in a new language.

A doctor, an actress, an engineer
wrestle with the rudiments of grammar
disillusioned, stumbling in a new language,
hating their luck, and knowing they are lucky.

Wrestling with the rudiments of grammar,
the old woman, who barely speaks the language,
hated her luck. I know that I am lucky
said the insurgent who is now an exile.

Fadwa Soleiman was a Syrian actress who became one of the early leaders in the Syrian civil war who called for peaceful protests against the regime of Bashar Hafez al-Assad. In 2011, security forces were hunting for her, and beating people to force them to reveal her hiding place. She cut her hair, and moved constantly to evade capture. In 2012, she fled by way of Lebanon, and went into exile in Paris. She died there of cancer at age 46 in 2017.

“Pantoum” © 2014 by Marilyn Hacker


1943 – Nicole Brossard born, a leading French-Canadian poet, novelist, and essayist; Mécanique jongleuse (Day-Dream Mechanics) and Double Impression both won the Governor General’s Award for Poetry

Villes réellement

par Nicole Brossard

villes d’abîme avec leurs racines
de jadis au present
couteaux longs et cous fins de fillettes
incendies de saris
villes sans recommencement de lumière
avec leurs entassements de femmes et de cailloux

Cities really 

by Nicole Brossard

abysmal cities with their roots
from ages ago to present day
long knives and thin necks of little girls
saris on fire
cities without resumption of light
with their congeries of women and stone

“Villes réellement” from Distantly, © 2010 by Nicole Brossard and translation © 2022 by Sylvain Gallais and Cynthia Hogue – Omnidawn, bilingual edition


November 28

1757 – William Blake born, major English poet, mystic, philosopher, and visual artist; best known for Songs of Innocence and Experience.

The Poison Tree

by William Blake

I was angry with my friend:
I told my wrath, my wrath did end.
I was angry with my foe:
I told it not, my wrath did grow.

And I watered it in fears,
Night and morning with my tears;
And I sunned it with smiles,
And with soft deceitful wiles.

And it grew both day and night,
Till it bore an apple bright.
And my foe beheld it shine.
And he knew that it was mine,

And into my garden stole
When the night had veiled the pole;
In the morning glad I see
My foe outstretched beneath the tree.

“The Poison Tree” is in the public domain.


1924 – Dennis Brutus born, South African poet, professor, anti-apartheid activist, and journalist; he was classified as “coloured” under South Africa’s racial code, because some of his heritage was Khoi and Malaysian. Noted as co-founder of the South African Non-Racial Olympic Committee (SANROC), campaigning for the banning of South Africa from the Olympics, which began in 1964, and continued until 1992 because though the South African regime said they would field ‘multi-racial’ teams, the teams would have been chosen under segregated conditions. Brutus was banned from meeting with more than two people outside his family for his SANROC activities, then arrested in 1963 for breaking the terms of his banning by trying to meet with an IOC official, and sentenced to 18 months in jail, but while still on bail tried to leave the country to go to an IOC meeting. He was arrested by the Portuguese secret police in Mozambique and returned to South Africa, where he was shot in the back while trying to escape, then sent to Robben Island for 16 months, five of them in solitary. His cell was next door to Nelson Mandela’s. Brutus was forbidden to teach, write or publish in South Africa. His first book of poetry, Sirens, Knuckles and Boots, was published in Nigeria while he was in prison. Released from prison in 1965, he left South Africa on an exit visa, banned from returning, and went into exile, first in Britain, and then in 1967 in the U.S. In 1983, he was granted political refugee status after a lengthy legal battle. He was “unbanned” by the South African government in 1990. In 1991 he became one of the sponsors of the Committee for Academic Freedom in Africa, and returned to South Africa. He died at age 85 in 2009.

I must conjure from my past

by Dennis Brutus

I must conjure from my past
the dim and unavowed
spectre of a slave,
of a bound woman,
whose bound figure
pleads silently
and whose blood I must acknowledge in my own

faniciful wraith? Imagining?
Yet how else can I reconcile my rebel blood and protest
but by acknowledgement
of that spectre’s mute rebellious blood.

“I must conjure from my past” from A Simple Lust: Selected Poems, © 1973 by Dennis Brutus – Hill & Wang


November 29

1781 Andrés Bello born in Caracas and educated at the University of Venezuela; poet, educator, and scholar, whose poetry is known for its classical style, celebrating the natural beauty and country life of South America. In 1810 he went to London, England, where he served as secretary to the legations of Colombia and Chile and wrote his famous two-part epic poem, Silvas Americanas.  In 1829 Bello returned to South America to accept a post in the Chilean government, and in 1843 he became the first rector of the University of Chile. He is also noted for Principios de derecho internacional (Principles of International Jurisprudence) and Gramática de la lengua castellana para uso de hispano-americanos (Grammar of the Castilian Language for Use by Latin Americans).


par Andrés Bello

¿Sabes, rubia, qué gracia solicito
cuando de ofrendas cubro los altares?
No ricos muebles, no soberbios lares,
ni una mesa que adule al apetito.

De Aragua a las orillas un distrito
que me tribute fáciles manjares,
do vecino a mis rústicos hogares
entre peñascos corra un arroyito.

Para acogerme en el calor estivo,
que tenga una arboleda también quiero,
do crezca junto al sauce el coco altivo.

¡Felice yo si en este albergue muero;
y al exhalar mi aliento fugitivo,
sello en tus labios el adiós postrero!


by Andrés Bello

Do you know, blonde, what favor I solicit
When I cover the altars with offerings?
Not rich furnishings, not superb lands,
Neither a table that flatters the apetite.

At the edge of Aragua I want a parcel
To supply me with simple pleasures,
And close to my rustic home
A brook that runs among the rocks.

To feel good around the summery warmth,
I also want my plot to have a grove,
Where the proud coconut and the willow can grow.

I’ll be happy if in this refuge I die;
And, upon exhaling my fugitive breath,
I stamp on your lips my last goodbye!

 – translator not credited
“Rubia” is in the public domain

1918  Madeleine L’Engle born, American Young Adult author and poet; best known for A Wrinkle in Time and its sequels; honored in 2004 with the National Humanities Medal

The Risk of Birth, Christmas, 1973

by Madeleine L’Engle 

This is no time for a child to be born,
With the earth betrayed by war & hate
And a comet slashing the sky to warn
That time runs out & the sun burns late.

That was no time for a child to be born,
In a land in the crushing grip of Rome;
Honour & truth were trampled by scorn —
Yet here did the Saviour make his home.

When is the time for love to be born?
The inn is full on the planet earth,
And by a comet the sky is torn —
Yet Love still takes the risk of birth.

“The Risk of Birth, Christmas, 1973” from The Ordering of Love, © 2005 by Madeleine L’Engle – Convergent Books

1973 – Sarah Jones born, African American playwright, poet, lyricist, and actress; noted for her one-woman theatre shows, including Bridge & Tunnel, produced Off-Broadway by Meryl Streep, which went on to Broadway and won a Special Tony Award.

Your Revolution

by Sarah Jones

Your revolution will not happen between these thighs
The real revolution ain’t about booty size
The Versaces you buys, or the Lexus you don’t drive
And though we’ve lost Biggie Smalls
Baby your notorious revolution
Will never allow you to lace no lyrical douche, in my bush
Your revolution will not be you killing me softly, with Fugees
Your revolution ain’t gonna knock me up without no ring or no plans
And produce little future emcees
Because that revolution will not happen between these thighs
And your revolution will not find me in the backseat of a jeep
With LL, hard as hell, doin’ it and doin’ it and doin’ it well
Your revolution will not be you smacking it up, flipping it, or rubbing it down
Nor will it take you downtown or humpin around
Because that revolution will not happen between these thighs
And your revolution will not have me singing, ain’t no nigga like the one I got
And your revolution will not be your ass sending me for no VD shot
And your revolution will not involve me, feelin your nature rise
Or helping you fantasize
Because that revolution will not happen between these thighs
Oh, my Jamaican brother, your revolution will not make you feel bombastic
And really fantastic
And have you groping in the dark for that rubber wrapped in plastic
You will not be touching your lips to my triple dip of french vanilla
Butter pecan, chocolate deluxe
Or having Akinyele’s dream, a 6-foot blowjob machine
You want to subjugate your queen?
Think I’m a put it in my mouth, just cuz you made a few bucks?
And your revolution will not be you dying your hair platinum blonde
Sing about what we gon’ do all night long
Cause all you could see is the thong-tha-thong-thong-thong
Cause that revolution will not happen between these thighs
But, your revolution makes me wonder where could we go
If we could all drop the empty pursuit of props and the ego
And revolt back to our roots, use a little Common Sense
On a quest to make love De La Soul, no pretense
But your revolution will not be you flexing your little sex and status
To express what you feel
Your revolution will not happen between these thighs
Will not happen between these thighs
Will not be you shaking and me *yawn* eventually faking between these thighs
Because, why? Because the revolution, when it finally comes
It’s gonna be real

“Your Revolution” from Your Revolution, © 2000 by Sarah Jones – self published


November 30

1485 – Veronica Gambara born, Italian political leader and poet; when her husband the Count of Correggio died in 1518, she took over running the city-state, including the condottieri (the military), and turned her court into a salon, drawing important Renaissance thinkers and artists; when the city was attacked in 1538 by the forces of Galeotto Pico II, she organized a successful defense, then oversaw improving the fortifications; 80 of her poems and 150 of her letters have survived.

How Welcome to My Eyes This Shady Hill

by Veronica Gambara 

How welcome to my eyes this shady hill,
lovely gay plants, blest shores and green valleys,
these fresh and crystal clear rushing waters,
where, when I was sad, I found comfort.

Secret sacred woods, inviolable,
dark thickets, solitary paths, fragant flowers
plum-colored, white, yellow, overarching
trees — parasols reaching to paradise.

Spirits, to you I’ve cried, told of harsh demands
often imposed on me, but I come here now
to speak of what contents me:

after long troubles and desperate sorrows
this warm sunlight, this place
I thought never to see again.

“How Welcome to My Eyes This Shady Hill” is in the public domain.

1554 – Sir Phillip Sidney born, English poet, courtier, scholar, and soldier of the Elizabethan age. He was in and out of favor at court, and especially fell out when he quarrelled with Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford, probably because of Sidney’s opposition to the French marriage of Elizabeth to the much younger Alençon, which de Vere championed. Sidney challenged de Vere to a duel, which Elizabeth forbade. He then wrote a lengthy letter to the Queen detailing the foolishness of the French marriage. Characteristically, Elizabeth bristled at his presumption, and Sidney prudently retired from court. In 1583, he married 16-year-old Frances Burke, Countess of Clanricarde, who was the daughter of Sir Frances Walsingham, Elizabeth’s principle secretary. Sidney was promoted to General of Horse the year of his marriage, and in 1585 was appointed governor of Flushing in the Netherlands. In 1586, he carried out a successful raid on Spanish forces in Axel, which is about 25 miles from Ghent. Later that year, he was wounded in the Battle of Zutphen, and died at age 31 of gangrene. None of his literary works were published in his lifetime, but they were privately circulated. Among other works, he wrote 108 love sonnets, influenced by Petrarch and Pierre de Ronsard, to his mistress Lady Penelope Rich, though they were “dedicated” to his wife.

Sonnet 31 – ‘With how sad steps’

by Sir Phillip Sidney

With how sad steps, O Moon, thou climb’st the skies!
How silently, and with how wan a face!
What, may it be that even in heav’nly place
That busy archer his sharp arrows tries!
Sure, if that long-with love-acquainted eyes
Can judge of love, thou feel’st a lover’s case,
I read it in thy looks; thy languish’d grace
To me, that feel the like, thy state descries.
Then, ev’n of fellowship, O Moon, tell me,
Is constant love deem’d there but want of wit?
Are beauties there as proud as here they be?
Do they above love to be lov’d, and yet
Those lovers scorn whom that love doth possess?
Do they call virtue there ungratefulness?

“Sonnet 31 –With how sad steps” is in the public domain.


1813 – Louise-Victorine Choquet Ackermann born, post-romantic French poet and author; Poésies, premières poésies, poésies philosophiques is her most noted work, published in 1874. She died at age 76 in 1890.


by Louise-Victorine Choquet Ackermann 

When Hebe, with her eyes lowered, blushing and artless
walked towards their banqueting-table,
the gods, enchanted, hold out their empty cups
and the child fills them with nectar.

We all too, when youth comes past,
jostle to hold our goblets out
What wine does the goddess pour here?
We don’t know; it intoxicates and delights.

Having smiled in immortal grace,
Hebe walks away; we call her back in vain.
For a long time still, we watch the eternal road,
Our tearful eyes following the divine cup-bearer.

Hebe was the Greek goddess of youth and the cupbearer to the gods; she ensured the youthfulness of the gods, and had the ability to restore youth to mortals. 

“Hebe” is in the public domain.

1972? – Celia Lisset Alvarez born in Spain to Cuban parents while they were waiting for their American visas to come through. She grew up in Miami. Her poetry collections include Shapeshifting, which won the 2005 Spire Press Poetry Award; The Stones; and Multiverses. She is also the editor of the journal Prospectus: A Literary Offering, and was the creator and director of the St. Thomas University Writing Center.

Fashion Report

by Celia Lisset Alvarez

This season, the girls are wearing
sneakers again, and jeans,
and hooded sweatshirts. They’re
smoking again, and wearing their
hair in mean locks over their face.

The latest fad
is big shirts made of plaid,
and even the prom dresses are
short, tight, red. Red is the color
of the season, blood-red, satin-red.
It’s all about the big black bruised eyes,
The pouty red lips. No blush
on the checks. The jewelry is chunky.

Next season, though,
the flowered dress returns,
with its corsets and its pumps.
In between, the mannequins
will lounge around the windows
with their hinges and their
bald heads and their effortless
fates, until the shopgirls come
and dress them up in beige.

“Fashion Report” from Bodies & Words, © 2022 by Celia Lisset Alvarez – Assure Press


December 1

1800 – Mihály Vörösmarty born, Hungarian poet and dramatist; after the death of his father in 1917, his widowed mother was left with a large family, and very little income, so Mihály paid for the rest of education by becoming a tutor. He became increasingly patriotic in his poetry and his plays, one of the notable Hungarian romanticists. When the Hungarian Academy was established in 1830, he was elected a member of the philological section, and later became the academy’s director. He also entered politics, and was elected to represent Jankovác at the diet of 1848, and in 1849 was made one of the judges of the high court. However, with the fall of the revolution of 1848-49, he was forced into exile. When he returned to Hungary in 1850, his health was already declining, and he died at age 54 in 1855.


by Mihály Vörösmarty

Oh, Magyar, keep immovably
your native country’s trust,
for it has borne you, and at death
will consecrate your dust!
No other spot in all the world
can touch your heart as home—
let fortune bless or fortune curse,
from hence you shall not roam!
This is the country that your sires
have shed their blood to claim;
throughout a thousand years not one
but adds a sacred name.
‘Twas here brave Árpád’s mighty sword
ordained your land to be,
and here the arms of Hunyad broke
the chains of slavery.
Here Freedom’s blood-stained flag has waved
above the Magyar head;
and here in age-long struggles fell
our best and noblest, dead.
In spite of long calamity
and centuries of strife,
our strength, though weakened, is not spent;
our country still has life.
To you, O nations of the world,
we call with passioned breath:
“Should not a thousand years of pain
bring liberty—or death?”
It cannot be that all in vain
so many hearts have bled,
that haggard from heroic breasts
so many souls have fled!
It cannot be that mind and strength
and consecrated will
are wasted in a hopeless cause
beneath a curse of ill!
There yet shall come, if come there must,
that better, fairer day
for which a myriad thousand lips
in fervent yearning pray.
Or there shall come, if come there must,
a death of fortitude;
and round about our graves shall stand
a nation washed in blood.
Around the graves where we shall die
a weeping world will come,
and millions will in pity gaze
upon the martyrs’ tomb.
Then, Magyar, keep unshakeably
your native country’s trust,
for it has borne you and at death
will consecrate your dust!
No other spot in all the world
can touch your heart as home;
let fortune bless or fortune curse,
from hence you shall not roam!

“Appeal” is widely regarded as a second Hungarian national anthem, and is in the public domain.


December 2

1915 – Adolph Green born, American lyricist and playwright, who partnered with Betty Comden to write scripts and lyrics for many Broadway shows and Hollywood films. Their partnership began in 1938, and lasted longer than any other writing team in Broadway history. From 1944’s On the Town to The Will Rogers Follies in 1991, they worked on 19 Broadway shows, and their film credits ranged from Good News in 1947 to My Favorite Year in 1982.

This song, from the 1955 film It’s Always Fair Weather, was performed by Gene Kelly, Dan Dailey, and Michael Kidd (dubbed by Jud Conlon), a medley of their characters’ thoughts at a reunion of old war buddies that isn’t going very well. It is set, with increasing tempo, to the “Blue Danube Waltz, Opus 314” by Johan Strauss.

I Shouldn’t Have Come

by Adolph Green and Betty Comden

Gene Kelly:
I shouldn’t have come
I shouldn’t have come
This thing’s a mistake
An awful mistake
That guy’s such a snob
And who is that hick
Can these be the guys I once thought
I could never live without

Jud Conlon:
This thing is a frost
I’d like to get lost
Old pals are the bunk
This guy’s a cheap punk
And that one’s a heel
And I’m a schlemiel
Can these be the guys I once thought
I could never live without

Dan Dailey:
This thing’s a bad dream
Why can’t I just scream, Aaaagggghhhhh!
Oh, why did I fly
To New York from Chi
To drink Scotch at noon
With a hick and a goon
Can these be the guys I once thought
I could never live without

Jud: This guy is a punk, a punk, a punk

Gene: This guy is a snob, a snob, a snob

Dan: This guy is a dope, a hick, a square

Jud: I shouldn’t have come, I’m in despair

Gene & Dan: I’m feeling my best gone down the drain

Dan & Jud: I’m sick as bus, but I’m insane

Gene: Oh, why did I come

Dan & Jud: Why am I here

A hick, a square, a snob, a punk
A hick, a square, a snob, a punk
Hah-hah-hah-hah, ho-ho-ho-ho-ho-ho
Hah-hah-hah-hah, ho-ho-ho-ho
A hick, a square, a snob, a punk
A hick, a square, a snob, a punk
Why did I come
Why am I here



“Freedom to Have Your Own Ideas” (cropped) – from Dreams of Freedom: Words and Pictures

About wordcloud9

Nona Blyth Cloud has lived and worked in the Los Angeles area for over 50 years, spending much of that time commuting on the 405 Freeway. After Hollywood failed to appreciate her genius for acting and directing, she began a second career managing non-profits, from which she has retired. Nona has now resumed writing whatever comes into her head, instead of reports and pleas for funding. She lives in a small house overrun by books with her wonderful husband.
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4 Responses to TCS: Freedom is a Dream – Rebels, Refugees, and Romantics

  1. fgsjr2015 says:

    There’s an inhumane devaluation by external-nation attitudes [usually of the Western world] toward the daily civilian lives lost in devastatingly long-drawn-out war zones and famine-stricken nations. The worth of such life will be measured by its overabundance and/or the protracted conditions under which it suffers. Often enough, those people will eventually receive meagre column inches on the back page of the First World’s daily news. Ergo …

    WITH news-stories’ human subjects’ race and culture dictating / quantity of media coverage of even the poorest of souls / a renowned newsman formulated a startling equation / justly implicating collective humanity’s news-consuming callousness / —“A hundred Pakistanis going off a mountain in a bus / make less of a story than three Englishmen drowning in the Thames.” //
    According to this unjust news-media mentality reasonably deduced / five hundred prolongedly-war-weary Middle Eastern Arabs getting blown to bits / in the same day perhaps should take up even less space and airtime. // So readily learned is the tiny token short story buried in the / bottom right-hand corner of the newspaper’s last page, the so brief account / involving a long-lasting war about which there’s virtually nothing civil; / therefore caught in the warring web are civilians most unfortunate / most weak, the very most in need of peace and civility. //
    And it’s naught but business as usual in the damned nations / where such severe suffering almost entirely dominates / the fractured structured daily routine of civilian slaughter (plus that of the odd well-armed henchman) / mostly by means of bomb blasts from incendiary explosive devices / rocket-fire fragments and shell shock readily shared with freshly shredded / shrapnel wounds resulting from smart bombs sometimes launched for / the stupidest of reasons into crowded markets and grade schools.//

    • wordcloud9 says:

      When Mammon is the god most worshipped, the essentials of life disappear into the pockets of the greediest few.

  2. fgsjr2015 says:

    Learn to pronounce
    wealth regarded as an evil influence or false object of worship and devotion. It was taken by medieval writers as the name of the devil of covetousness, and revived in this sense by Milton.
    “others have forsaken Mammon in search of something on a more spiritual plane”

    Yes, I quite agree with you.

Comments are closed.