Playing the Indian Card

Saturday, June 24, 2017

All of Us Command?

I am grateful to the Canadian Senate for throwing a wrench into the attempt to change the words of the Canadian national anthem, from “true patriot love in all thy sons command” to “true patriot love in all of us command.”

The argument for changing it is, of course, that referring only to “sons” is sexist.

I have written on this before:

But consider what is happening here: men are being commanded, given orders. Is it really a greater subjugation for women not to be subjugated?
And again, they are being given orders by Canada. Is Canada male or female? At a minimum, why assume she is male? I have always assumed she was female in this anthem. Like Marianne, Britannia, Athena, and Columbia.
If it were a male giving the orders, and women who were to obey his commands, would the feminists be happier?

But my reason for objecting to the change is not this: this merely demonstrates that the change is not meaningful.

My problem is with the poetry of the thing.

Concreteness, specific detail, evokes images in the mind. This is a big part of how poetry works. “Sons” evokes an image. “Us” does not. These new words are the words of a bureaucrat, not a poet. They deaden the song.

Then there are the sound values.

“All thy sons command” is strong and euphonious. Notice, those who have ears to hear, how the succeeding initial consonants, “th,” “s,” and “c,” move the tongue progressively further back in the mouth, like an orderly march. It is the second best bit, poetically, in the anthem, next to “true north strong and free.” “All of us command” is just words.

People do not hear or care, because people these days do not understand poetry. But we have little enough poetry in our lives.

And too much politics.

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