The bugles of war are blowing across the Beltway again. Barack Obama is blowing one, John Kerry is blowing one, Nancy Pelosi is blowing one. Why tell the truth about war when you can just blow a bugle instead? Works every time.
51 years ago, a young songwriter from Hibbing, Minnesota wrote A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall. The truth can still be heard in every line of that song, it can always be heard no matter how loud the bugles are blowing. He wrote it in September of 1962 in the basement of the Village Gate, in a small apartment occupied by Chip Monck, in the heart of Greenwich Village, the battered soul of New York City.
Wondering where the truth has been, he started writing, wondering if that blue-eyed exile would ever find a home, he kept writing, and the words came from that hidden world most people never see or hear or believe in, and the truth spoke to him, and he listened, and it told him of a long journey, and it told him of distant mountains and of nameless highways, of walking sometimes and of crawling sometimes, of not turning back because the road was too long.
And it spoke to him of a forest of shadows and of fading footprints on endless shores, of seagulls flying low over dying oceans, of rain falling hard on cemetery grass. And the truth told him what it had seen and he saw it too, and he heard the cries of newborn babies and the howling of wolves, and he heard the silence of empty highways, and he heard the blood dripping from the black branches of suffering.
And it showed him the rooms of ruin and the hammers of power, it showed him a torn ladder in the depths of the sea, it showed him all of those legions of liars, their broken words echoing in the rage of the wind. And there all around him he saw all the guns, he saw the shining steel blades of the swords, gripped in the hands of all the young soldiers, gripped in the hands of the children of earth, reflecting the lightning in the savaging rain.
And he heard what they heard as the sullen sky thundered, as the warning roared out across the whole world, and he saw the cold waves and the storm of the deluge, and he heard the dark drumming of more on the way, and the truth was still blazing but no one was listening, and compassion was starving and hatred was laughing, and the songs of the poets were no longer heard, there was death in the gutters and death in the alleys, there was the falling of tears in the hammering rain.
And he saw the long shadows on the roads seldom traveled, he saw a young child and a staggering pony, taking its last steps as the sun of survival went down, and he saw the white men and he saw the black dogs, beaten and bloody by the side of the road. And beside them he met a weeping young woman, scarred by the flames of the bridges they’d burned, the ghost of a girl who once walked beneath rainbows, still hearing the cries of men wounded in love, still hearing the cries of men wounded in hatred.
And he walked with the truth through the rain and the thunder, he walked with the truth through the darkening woods, where poverty dwells and there is no escape, where poison flows in the streams and the rivers and the prisons are built in the valleys of death, where executioners wait at the steps of the gallows to enforce the laws of corruption and greed.
And he wrote of the hunger of millions forgotten, and he wrote of the darkness of infinite pain, and he told of the horror and he thought of the victims, and he spoke of the past and he spoke of the future, from high on that mountain where the truth can be seen, calling our names through all of the ages, calling on us to hear it and think it, calling on us to speak it and breathe it, asking us to sing it through all of the ages to come.
Keep singing the truth, MyFDL.