LIberty Tree“The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.”

I watched some of the John Adams mini-series yesterday. Of course, HBO took the opportunity of our nation’s birthday to run a marathon of the mini-series from beginning to end. I watched the first few episodes, which were excellent pieces of television, but didn’t catch the last several. I’m waiting now to get the DVD set so I can sit and watch it on my own time and at my own pace.

Nonetheless, I watched a scene in which John Adams and Thomas Jefferson discussed the direction America was already taking with President Washington at its head – a direction closer to monarchy than they liked. Jefferson, in response to Adams’ trepidation of this fact, uttered one of his most famous lines, quoted above. I think that single line says it all, really. I know it can be cliché to try and reach back to our country’s forefathers, but as the Evangelists formed the basis, unknowingly so, of the New Testament, the forefathers, too, formed something of which they had no concept of size or power. Here we are over 230 years later staring at an America under our feet that is imperfect, as well it should be. However imperfect, though, America has lost its spirit and its promise and it is only natural to return to the roots of anything to renew all that is lost.

As I alluded in my last entry, I’ve been listening to The Boston Camerata‘s Liberty Tree: Early American Music 1776-1861. From beginning to end it is a gripping work of art. Another of the songs caught my attention and I searched for the lyrics, which I found rather handily. The song is “The Liberty Tree” as penned by one of my personal heroes, Thomas Paine. Here are the lyrics:

“The Liberty Tree”
by Thomas Paine

In a chariot of light from the regions of day
The Goddess of Liberty came;
Ten thousand celestials directed the way
And thither conducted the Dame.
This tall budding branch, from the garden above,
Where millions with millions agree,
She bro’t in her hand, as a pledge of her love
The plant she call’d Liberty Tree.

This celestial exotic struck deep in the ground
Like a native it flourish’d and bore.
The fame of its fruit drew the nations around
To seek out its peaceable shore.
Unmindful of names or distinction they came
For freemen like brothers agree,
With one spirit endow’d, they one friendship pursued
And their temple was Liberty Tree.

Beneath this fair branch, like the patriarchs of old
Their bread, in contentment, they eat.
Unwearied with trouble, of silver or gold,
Or the cares of the grand and the great.
With timber and tar they old England supplied
Supported her power on the seas;
Her battles they fought, without having a groat
For the honour of Liberty Tree.

But hear, O ye swains (’tis a tale most profane)
How all the tyrannical powers,
King, Commons and Lords are uniting amain
To cut down this guardian of ours.
From the east to the west, blow the trumpet to arms
Thro’ the land let the sound of it flee;
Let the far and the near, all unite with a cheer
In defense of our Liberty Tree.

From The American Patriotic Songbook, 1813. First published in 1775.
Tune: “Once the Gods of the Greeks.”

Striking poetry indicative of a time of inspiration, desperation, and triumph.

Take the time, also, to make it over to my friend’s blog for more inspirational American flourishes. Tim is a patriot.