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NEWSTROM – Ode to the Greek tragedy that is the Donald Trump family

WELCOME to Newstrom’s Neural Nutrition.

Because it is so easy to be consumed by the buffoonery-tumble of ‘fake news’ and lies that dominate the political shout-scape in American politics, with no shame, I happily succumb.

That buffoonery-tumble is insanely entertaining and rich grist for the whirring machinery of this column.

This ‘amusement’ is rich with content that gifts me in my study of politicians and people who are wisely flexible in their thinking.

Opposite, we enjoy their rivals, those who are stupidly stubborn and repetitive in their lack of ability to think clearly.

Stupid is not too strong of a word to use when writing about the unbelievable antics of the White House and American politics. Ludicrous and laughable are among the synonyms for stupid.

Yet I must caution myself not to be too smug.

It is unknown to me if Donald Trump Junior or his beleaguered father ever got a smattering of a liberal education in high school or college.

If they had, they might have benefitted from the poem Ode on a Grecian Urn by one of the most incisive of Romantic poets, John Keats.

Apparently, the urn itself displays no Greek text but shows images, “…in which a lover eternally pursues a beloved without fulfilment, and another of villagers about to perform a sacrifice.”

This provides me with a metaphor for the story of the White House in 2017.

The Trump family ‘pursues’ their ‘beloved’, which is wealth, status and control. The “villagers’, most of America, gather around to ‘perform a sacrifice’.

The poem is worth looking up and applying to the ‘First’ family.

Keats was mindful of how the ancient Greeks were curious, as we still are about the soul, time, the natural world and the art they produced in response. He was particularly attentive to ancient Greek ideals and virtues.

The reader of the poem needs to remember that as Keats is writing it he is absorbed by the images on the urn and inspired by his understanding of the ancient Greek values mentioned above. It is as if we can think of the human tragedy of the White House on the urn.

What leaf-fring’d legend haunts about thy shape

Keats asks:

What mad pursuit? What struggle to escape?
What pipes and timbrels? What wild ecstasy?

The Trump family is in ‘mad pursuit’ of power, status and wealth, yet ‘struggle(s) to escape’ the ‘wild ecstasy’ that results. They would have us believe they are ordinary.

That dear child, Donald Junior, is enamoured with his own fantasies as in,

Heard melodies are sweet, but those unheard
Are sweeter; therefore, ye soft pipes, play on;
Not to the sensual ear, but, more endear’d,
Pipe to the spirit ditties of no tone

Keats asks the urn,

Who are these coming to the sacrifice?
To what green altar, O mysterious priest

Americans and all world citizens need to ask who is this mysterious priest and who is being sacrificed. If America should descend into an anarchy of  the sacrificial, trickle down mumbo jumbo of cancerous income inequality and the unquestioned dominance of a White House dictator who maneuvers to deconstruct the balances of the US government  then we can imagine,

What little town by river or sea shore,
Or mountain-built with peaceful citadel,
Is emptied of its folk, this pious morn?
And, little town, thy streets for evermore
Will silent be; and not a soul to tell
Why thou art desolate, can e’er return.

The poem finishes with,

“Beauty is truth, truth beauty,” – that is all
Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.

The Trump family pursuit of wealth and power appears to be crystalizing into a sad saga, already history.

The threat of a country desolate, silent and ‘emptied of its folk’ will set as hardened as any ancient urn, frozen in stone. It won’t be truthful or beautiful. That Trump urn must be shattered.

We must remember how Americans pride themselves that their concepts of democracy, discourse and law are derived from the ancient Greeks. That urn, beautiful and truthful, must be carried forward and kept safe.

Clearly, I have only used the parts of Ode to a Grecian Urn that I think apply to this White House administration. Sufficient that Keats was writing in 1819 about human concerns that interested the ancient Greeks, yet, as shown, we little understand in 2017. That is, the senses we possess of time, our times, our souls, ideals, virtues and nature, as mentioned above.

Perhaps one of you can write me a poem about President Trump and his family.

If Don senior and Don junior had paid more attention to the nuanced liberty of a liberal arts education they’d be a helluva lot better off.

Elon Newstrom is a Kamloops resident and sometime university student. 

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About Mel Rothenburger (5007 Articles)
ArmchairMayor.ca is a forum about Kamloops and the world. It has more than one million views. Mel Rothenburger is the former Editor of The Daily News in Kamloops, B.C. (retiring in 2012), and past mayor of Kamloops (1999-2005). At ArmchairMayor.ca he is the publisher, editor, news editor, city editor, reporter, webmaster, and just about anything else you can think of. He is grateful for the contributions of several local columnists. This blog doesn't require a subscription but gratefully accepts donations to help defray costs.

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