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  • Writer's pictureDavid Carlson

242: Nov 13, 2020 Justice can rise up and Hope and History rhyme


In his speech last Saturday evening, President-elect Joe Biden – an honorarium that feels so good to say – invoked the timeless passage from Ecclesiastes 3:1-8: “The Bible tells us to everything there is a season, a time to build, a time to reap and a time to sow. And a time to heal. This is the time to heal in America.”

On that same night, Irish television ran a video they created from a Biden Campaign ad run in the final days of the campaign.

Joe Biden solemnly recites a poem by Irish Nobel Laureate Seamus Heaney, “The Cure At Troy.” The poem, ending with the phrase, “That justice can rise up and hope and history rhyme,” portrays the triumph of hope, belief, justice and healing over human suffering, and echoes the hard-won optimism that defines Joe Biden’s life and for which we have worked – together – in this election.

The president-elect ended his speech by saying, “Let us be the nation that we know we can [be]. A nation united, a nation strengthened. A nation healed… I remember as my grandpa said when I walked out of his home when I was a kid up in Scranton, he said: ‘Joey, keep the faith.’ And our grandmother, when she was alive, she yelled: ‘No, Joey, spread it.’ Spread the faith.”

Human beings suffer

They torture one another,

They get hurt and get hard.

No poem or play or song

Can fully right a wrong

Inflicted and endured.

The innocent in gaols

Beat on their bars together.

A hunger-striker’s father

Stands in the graveyard dumb.

The police widow in veils

Faints at the funeral home.

History says, Don’t hope

On this side of the grave…

But then, once in a lifetime

The longed-for tidal wave

Of justice can rise up,

And hope and history rhyme.

So hope for a great sea-change

On the far side of revenge.

Believe that a further shore

Is reachable from here.

Believe in miracles

And cures and healing wells.

Call miracle self-healing:

The utter, self-revealing

Double-take of feeling.

If there’s fire on the mountain

Or lightning and storm

And a god speaks from the sky

That means someone is hearing

The outcry and the birth-cry

Of new life at its term.

It means once in a lifetime

That justice can rise up

And hope and history rhyme.

by Seamus Heaney

(Pope Francis visits prisoners)



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