“The ravening clouds shall not long be victorious . . .”

All I have to say is that this photo really affected me when I first saw it, and still does. It conveys much about compassion, community, America, and the human spirit. Taken by Pablo Martinez Monsivais (AP) last Wednesday, it shows President Barack Obama embracing Donna Vanzant during a tour of a New Jersey neighborhood affected by Hurricane Sandy. The text is taken from two poems by Walt Whitman, “Tears” and “On the Beach at Night.”

Tears! tears! tears!
In the night, in solitude, tears,
On the white shore dripping, dripping, suck’d in by the sand,
Tears, not a star shining, all dark and desolate,
Moist tears from the eyes of a muffled head;
O who is that ghost? that form in the dark, with tears?
O storm, embodied, rising, careering with swift steps along the beach!
O wild and dismal night storm, with wind–O belching and desperate!

Weep not, weep not,
The ravening clouds shall not long be victorious,
They shall not long possess the sky, they devour the stars only in apparition –
They are immortal, all those stars both silvery and golden shall shine out again,
The great stars and the little ones shall shine out again, they endure,
The vast immortal suns and the long-enduring pensive moons shall again shine.



One thought on ““The ravening clouds shall not long be victorious . . .”

  1. Not to criticise Pablo Martinez Monsivais (I’ve also earned a living through the lens), but it’s nice to see one guy in the shot just being in the moment rather than capturing a good photo op. Had Pablo seen Mitt being swept away in the waters he would have had a much harder job deciding what he should do. I mean, the choice between black and white or colour in that situation would be crucial… of course, I’m not being serious… I’m sure Mitt would feel this way too if it was his own family suffering. Unfortunately, Mitt’s idea of compassion (from the evidence i have seen so far) is somewhat less than boundless.

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