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Friday, January 13, 2006


by Ed Webb

In those last days of the Republic,
Citizens clung to their ancestors of course.
The religion of the Republic gave comfort,

(Caesars sharpening knives offstage right)

Confidence in the old institutions,
Faith in the dignity of citizenship

(Muttering in the chorus: old domesticated subjecthood)

For any contingency an invocation,
A mantra for every problem:
Ask not, "What is to be done?"
Ask instead,
"What would Jefferson do?"

Ed Webb is a Brit who lives in Philadelphia. His checkered career includes diplomacy on behalf of a faded imperial power, a soon-to-be-finished (no, really) doctorate in politics, and the odd bit of union activism.