Sunday, March 23, 2008

Mankind Loosed, author Unknown

I have died in Viet Nam but I have walked the face of the moon.
I have befouled the waters and tainted the air of a magnificent land but I have made it safe from disease.
I have flown through the sky faster than the sun but I have idled in streets made ugly with traffic.
I have littered the land with garbage but I have built upon it 100 million homes.
I have divided schools with my prejudice but I have sent armies to unite them.
I have beat down my enemies with clubs but I have built courtrooms to keep them free.
I have built a bomb to destroy the world but I have used it to light a light.
I have outraged my brothers in the alleys of the ghettos but I have transplanted a human heart.
I have scribbled out filth and pornography but I have elevated the philosophy of man.
I have watched children starve from my golden towers but I have fed half the earth.
I was raised in a grotesque slum but I am surfeited by the silver spoon of opulence.
I live in the greatest country in the world in the greatest time in history but I scorn the ground I stand upon.
I am ashamed but I am proud. I am an American.


Keith said...

This was published in (I believe) Playboy in the early 1970s, and I read it then as a teenager and I still think it encapsulates the contradictions of the United states, its hoes and despairs more concisely and completely than any other poem I have seen. After 35 years it still resonates.

Anonymous said...

I have been looking for this poem for years. I read it in Newsweek or Time in the 1970's. I know it wasn't Playboy because I read it in a public library and I was a teenager. Thanks so much for publishing it again. I have missed it.