This poem started out as an anthem for writers. So many of us, who have this incomprehensible urge to share our thoughts, are nonetheless burdened with a quiet, introverted nature, which abhors all grandstanding. This poem was originally meant to urge writers to be more bold in sharing and promoting their work. One writer in particular, of course. Me.
But as I wrote, I came across the rather poorly hidden sarcasm in the poem. It could just as easily be read as a condemnation of someone who is a little too free with his or her ideas, to the detriment of those who listen. Especially since I wrote it shortly after watching two political documentaries on the events leading up to January 6, 2021: “Unprecedented” and another one by CNN from 2021.
What particularly struck me about the first documentary were the comments Ivanka Trump made about her father, praising him for his honesty and forthrightness. As a person from the opposite camp, I laughed out loud at this remark.
But then I realized that whether demonstrably, factually true or not, Trump’s comments do register as true, to a certain audience. That is, they perceive Trump’s words as being an accurate description of reality, consistent with their experience and beliefs. I think in general, people who seem candid, who appear to lay their cards on the table, seem more trustworthy and believable, than those who hold their cards close to their chest. Only with experience do we learn to recognize that dastardly, but most congenial salesman, whose friendly, sincere purpose is to swindle us out of all that we possess.
Perhaps, instead of as an ode to Free Speech, this poem should be read as a warning. Perhaps we should be more circumspect in what we say. Because, as we so often hear said, words have consequences.
Yet another way to view –or hear–this poem is as a call to all of us, to be just as loud in our refutations, as the loudest voice in the room is, spouting his or her lies. The irony of free speech is that it is not the monopoly of the right (nor the Right.) The only way to ensure that the wrong do not prevail, is for the right to step up, and speak. And drown them out, with even more compelling, but equally free, speech.
Thanks for coming by to read!
Force your voice upon the world.
Say your piece out loud.
Ring your bell at highest knell.
Of yourself, be proud.
Bare your candle to the wind.
Fill your bushel full.
Weep your tears down to your chin.
Trade your bear for bull.
Walk with swagger in your stride.
Let the public stare.
Let them criticize, deride.
Though your bum be bare,
Make apologies to none.
Tell them what you see.
Lure them with your Piper’s song
No Speech attracts, like Free.
Copyright 2022 Andrea LeDew
For a silly take on the dubious characters that populate our politics, read The Lawman. For a nostalgic look at what has become of a time-honored institution, read The Public Square. For more on the courage it takes to attain recognition as a writer, in this noisy modern world, read Until Dawn.