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A Thought for Today

It is a wondrous thing to have a country you can love.


Hello, Ken!

I hope all is well and happy with you.

"Out of The Darkness," from Rod's book, "The Power Bright & Shining," does it for me especially at this time of war against terrorism. And that the American flag on the front cover appears to be waving among the 'amber waves of grain,' makes it real special.

The terrorists hate us for our freedom and after reading Rod's poem and most specifically the last verse, it really rang true today. Stunning this was to me, because this poem was published eleven years ago.

One of the many reasons it may be enjoyed even more today, is that brilliantly Rod just about covers all aspects of the 'makings' of America, what it is like in America, and what keeps America together. The poem IS America, as is the entire book. It is a must have and in viewing Stanyan By Mail this morning, I noticed there are copies of this book still available. At this time of war and patriotism, it would make for a beautiful Christmas gift to friends, loved ones, or even one's self. The direct link is...

It sure would be nice if Rod would write a new poem about how America will once again rise up "Out of The Darkness" against the terrorism. Although, knowing how much he 'HAS' to write, he's probably already written it, don't you agree, Ken? If he has, then please talk him into sharing it here soon. Also, I am intrigued by the outstanding substance and length of this poem. Could you please find out from Rod how long it took him to write this masterpiece? It sure would be great to hear him recite it to patriotic background music (hint hint -- *smile smile*). Or is the recital already available? Thanks, Ken!

Bluest of skies to you and yours,



Thanks for an interesting and thought provoking contribution, Sharon.

The patriotism of the American people has long held a fascination for me, probably because it's a trait that's so sadly lacking in my own country. And of course that very same patriotism has come shining through since September 11, hasn't it?

Regrettably I'm not able to answer any of your questions regarding the poem itself though I'm pretty sure Rod will pick up on some of them and address them in a future Flight Plan.

A poem about the fight against terrorism? Knowing Rod's love for his country, I reckon that's a given - it's only a matter of time.

This regular Wednesday column is your column so dig through your memory banks and drop me a line if have a favorite McKuen song or poem you'd like to share. The address, as always, is and I look forward to hearing from you soon.

 - Ken, Johannesburg, November 21

notable birthdays Troy Aikman o William Beaumont o Jim Bishop o Bjork o Vivian Blaine o Joseph Campanella o B.J. Connery o Tom Dorsaneo o Ken Griffey, Jr. o Coleman Hawkins o Goldie Hawn o Steven Alexander James (Blur) o Rick Lenz o Larry Luckinbill o Lorna Luft o Rene Magritte o Natalia Makarova o Ralph Meeker o Juliet Mills o Stan Musial o Franco Nero o Eleanor Powell o Harold Ramis o Jean Shepard o Nicollette Sheridan o Marlo Thomas o Voltaire
Rod's random thoughts In every country, the native of the land is the least appreciated.

Loving your country means loving yourself.

Invest in your country by investing in your friends.


Out of oppression into freedom.
Out of constraint into expansion.
Out of the reading of history
into the making of history.
Out of iron shackles into producing iron.
Out of the man at the foot of the thinker
emerges the thinker himself.
Out of the bonds of forced religion
into the makings of new religions.
Out of the land cordoned off by the King
into the free and open country.
Out of weakness confirmed by labor
into strength produced by labor.
Out of the darkness into light.

Out of the rigid handed-down law
into the making of laws that are workable.
Out of the woods that has no clearing
into the clearing of woods.
Out from under the ruling class
into the class that rules itself.
Out of generations of sorrow
into generations of joy.
Out of poverty into pride.
Out of slavery into ownership.
Out of the scourge of being victim
into the role of benevolent victor.
Out of the galley and into the gallery.
Out of the twilight, free in the midnight.

Out of the mothers who mourned for their sons
now come the women at morning's first sunlight.
Out of the fathers who died in the struggle
now come the struggling founding fathers.
Out of the lands where sons played on cobblestones
into the country where sons turn the earth.
Out of the breath of daughters who died
in the bed of the serf, at the hand of pestilence,
a new generation of daughters with pride.
Out of the neighborhood bent with hunger
onto the block with belly full.
Out of the dungeon into the daylight.
Out of the need to gorge, into the need to give.
Out of the mineshaft into the air.

Away from the path that persecutes patriots
onto the highway that patriots paved.
Free from restraints of knowing yourself
finding how much of yourself you can know.
Released from the shackles of building for others
learning the craft of building for you.
No more apples from the barrel's black bottom
only the fruit from the green apple tree.
The demons dreamed up by the weak and afraid
give way to the dreamer controlling his dream
setting in motion his wide-awake visions
molding the axle to turn every wheel.
Out of the way of the sword and the shield.
Out of the well and into the water.

So came the foreigner, soon to be friend.
So came the misused, soon to be unified.
So came the lovers to beget generations.
So came the ill, soon to be well.
So came the indolent, to work for themselves.
So came the convicts, soon unchained.
So came the pilgrims, soon to be pioneers.
So came the builders, to carve a new country.
So came the hungry, to fill up their bellies.
So came the ignorant, soon to be learning.
So came the believer, allowed his beliefs.
So came the thinkers, to study in freedom.
So came the leaderless, soon to be leaders.
So came the few, soon to be many.

Speeches delivered, started the history.
Songs were passed round, till they were anthems.
Spread was the word that became fair law.
Swingers of axes cleared out the underbrush.
Soil was turned over for field and for garden.
Sown were seeds, healthily harvested.
Smiles were fence posts before there were fences.
Sailors sailed in on tides of tomorrow.
Sorrow was turned into joy by the neighbor.
Silence was broken by the splitting of rails.
Still in its infancy the nation was growing.
Soon men of principle drafted a paper,
providing the land with its first constitution,
stamped by the seal of brotherhood's hands.

And pilgrim's pride and father's pride
pride of the mother made the child proud.
More than the word was the will and wonder
as each set of eyes set a goal for itself.
As each one prayed to his own God privately,
man and his family stretched out and grew.
He dug up the valleys and planted the corn,
sliced off the mountaintops and dug out the coal,
loaded the flatcars that rolled to the cities
and dammed up the waterways till there was power,
stretched out the cable and strung up the lights.
Pride was the tool that powered our progress,
need the dividing point sectioning land.
Love the explainer, settling arguments.

This land of giants was ground out of greatness,
and built on a firmer foundation of rock.
Each pioneer's progress and each of his setbacks,
each war and peace and each war again,
people not born, those knocked down by death
those who came here to find life and living
those whom we captured and those we set free,
those who died while defending the nation
and those we defended who couldn't be saved.
All of us still in Whitman's old cradle
endlessly rocking, endlessly rocking
still in the morning of life as we know it,
still looking up to the forehead of freedom
above and beyond our forefather's knee.

This is the country, this the place
all men of wisdom, worry and want
look to for freedom and freedom they see.

- from "The Power Bright & Shining," 1980

1970, 1980, 1986, 2001 by Stanyan Music Group & Rod McKuen. All Rights Reserved
Birthday research by Wade Alexander o Poetry from the collection of Jay Hagan o Coordinated by Melinda Smith
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