Poem: “Watchman, What of the Night?”

Watchman, What of the Night?

“Black, my friend, black as pitch, yet ever darkening.
Those who live do sleep
Some, troubled, tossing, groaning, dreaming of evils,
Fearful of life, fearing personal poverty.

“Sleeping in death are Paine, John and Abigail Adams,
Franklin, Jefferson, the men of Washington,
Who fought, died, for truths they held self-evident.
Asleep the martyr Lincoln
Asleep the Union soldiers, and the slaves redeemed.
Marines of Iwo Jima, troops of Patton,
Gone, gone, gone.
Millions rose to greatness, now gone to ground,
Fifty million slaughtered though never born,
To make a place for a lesser breed, those who now sleep
While yet alive.”

Watchman, What of the night?
Those who toss and groan in sleep,
Do they dream of the mad men of Boston
Dumping the tea of taxation?

“Nay, my brother,
Their fevered fantasy sees the Father of our country, hazarding all,
His shoeless band of brothers freezing at Valley Forge,
Calling ‘Abortion, Abortion, Abortion’!
Small wonder their sleep is troubled.

“They dream not of pioneer families hacking homes from wilderness.
A man, his courageous wife, their children building the city on a hill
For all the world to emulate.
Nay, they dream of a world without care or struggle,
A world of everlasting entertainment,
Of a government that takes all responsibility
From their inadequate shoulders.
They dream illusions of life with no commitments
No Commandments, no troublesome God.”

Watchman, Wake these dreaming dullards!
Theirs is no life, merely a breathing death.
God made them not for buggery nor blasphemy.
Tell them the truth, make them free.

Watchman, do I see shadowy hordes
Rising from within and from without,
Moving on you as the dark cloud of death?
Watchman, Are you overwhelmed by those living dead?
Watchman! . . . Watchman! . . . Watchman!

Theodore Kobernick

Theodore Kobernick is a retired Protestant pastor whose wide education includes degrees in English, training in aviation electronics, engineering, real estate, pastoral studies, and Americal history. He has taught English at the University of Washington (Seattle), and various courses in writing at St. Martin's University (near Olympia, WA).  Phi Beta Kappa from Lake Forest College, IL. He and Paula have been married for 35 years; they live in Vancouver, WA.