Lorine Niedecker

Jefferson and Adams

Jefferson: I was confident 
the French revolution would end well
Adams differed: What is freedom
to their thousands upon thousands
who cannot read or write ---
impracticable as for the Elephants Lions
Tigers Panthers Wolves and Bears
in the Royal Menagerie of Versailles
Our minister at Paris: Lafayette
gave dinner at my house ten days before
the fall of the Bastille
The argument at table disfigured
by no tinsel - cool
as Xenophon Plato Cicero

Adams to the unexploding projectile
from the forest of Virginia: Where was you ---
Jefferson said Dear friend, I was Stoic-trained
but longed for Tranquility ---
Monticello, Horace, Epicurus
I value the passions
(the senses stimulate the mind)
though yours drew you away from me
Friend Acrid to his friend Jefferson:
---no doubt you was fast asleep
in philosophical Tranquility
when ten thousand people paraded
the streets of Philadelphia

spoken = Shelley Lynn Johnson