Happy Birthday, McGregory Van Every

These poems today are in honor of the birthday of McGregory Van Every, my fifth-great grandfather, who is 285 years old today. He was born on April 27th, 1723.

It’s also partially in honor of May 1st…since it is upcoming…and it is Loyalty Day. My fifth great grandfather was loyal.

Centennial Hymn
John Greenleaf Whittier (1876)

OUR fathers’ God! from out whose hand
The centuries fall like grains of sand,
We meet to-day, united, free,
And loyal to our land and Thee,
To thank Thee for the era done,
And trust Thee for the opening one.

Here, where of old, by Thy design,
The fathers spake that word of Thine
Whose echo is the glad refrain
Of rended bolt and falling chain,
To grace our festal time, from all
The zones of earth our guests we call.

Be with us while the New World greets
The Old World thronging all its streets,
Unveiling all the triumphs won
By art or toil beneath the sun;
And unto common good ordain
This rivalship of hand and brain.

Thou, who hast here in concord furled
The war flags of a gathered world,
Beneath our Western skies fulfil
The Orient’s mission of good-will,
And, freighted with love’s Golden Fleece,
Send back its Argonauts of peace.

For art and labor met in truce,
For beauty made the bride of use,
We thank Thee; but, withal, we crave
The austere virtues strong to save,
The honor proof to place or gold,
The manhood never bought nor sold!

Oh make Thou us, through centuries long,
In peace secure, in justice strong;
Around our gift of freedom draw
The safeguards of thy righteous law:
And, cast in some diviner mould,
Let the new cycle shame the old!

The following poem I wrote several years ago. It has appeared here before, but during the month of July.

John Newmark

In history class I was taught
in order to be good Americans
we must seek to address our grievances
by working within the system.

If there are problems with the system,
the system, too, can be changed
from within.

I have ancestors who agreed completely
with this philosophy;
however, in this same history class
I was taught my ancestors
were wrong. They were loyalists,
and sought to address their grievances
within the system — The British system.

Their neighbors believed in Revolution.
It wasn’t Marxist,
but still it was a revolution,
and today our teachers tell us
revolutions aren’t necessary.

That’s what my ancestors tried to tell their neighbors.
Their neighbors didn’t listen.
Should we?

For those who like to interpret the poet’s beliefs from their poems (even though “The doll and the maker are never identical” – see April 20th entry) note that the question in the last line goes unanswered.

0 thoughts on “Happy Birthday, McGregory Van Every

  1. DL Emerick

    Myths of identity rely upon representation as only an approximation.

    Sci-Fi guy van Vogt took this idea to a non-A(ristotelian), null-A, world —
    strangely like the idea of quantum physics,
    that two particles, though separated by arbitrarily vast distances, might still “instantly” have the same state, of “information” to them.

    A maker is not his doll, nor a poet his poem.

    But, still, there is something of a representation, impressed on every work —
    an approximation of your being in the world —

    just don’t confuse the totality of the one with the infinity of the other.

    (See Totality and Infinity by Emmanuel Levinas, please — a must read book, for anyone who follows 20th century Jewish thinking, especially in ethics and philosophy.)


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