Conyers Ulysses: Some work of noble note

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Reposted, with minor edits, from February 2008

The story of a once-proud warrior

with one last battle left to fight.

Ulysses

by Alfred, Lord Tennyson


IT LITTLE PROFITS that an idle king, By this still hearth, among these barren crags, Match’d with an aged wife,

I mete and dole Unequal laws unto a savage race,


That hoard, and sleep, and feed,



                                                    and know not me.


I CANNOT REST from travel; I will drink Life to the lees. All times I have enjoy’d Greatly, have suffer’d greatly,

both with those That loved me,


                                  and alone;

on shore, and when Thro’ scudding drifts the rainy Hyades Vext the dim sea.

                 I AM BECOME A NAME

For always roaming with a hungry heart

Much have I seen and known,– cities of men


And manners, climates, councils, governments,

Myself not least, but honor’d of them all,–

                          And drunk delight of battle with my peers,

                          Far on the ringing plains of windy Troy.


                  I AM A PART OF ALL THAT I HAVE MET;

Yet all experience is an arch wherethro’ Gleams that untravell’d world whose margin fades

For ever and for ever when I move.

HOW DULL IT IS TO PAUSE, to make an end,

To rust unburnish’d, not to shine in use!

AS THO’ TO BREATHE WERE LIFE!

Life piled on life

Were all too little,

                                and of one to me

Little remains; but every hour is saved

From that eternal silence, something more,

A bringer of new things;


and vile it were

For some three suns to store and hoard myself,

And this gray spirit

                 yearning in desire

To follow knowledge like a sinking star,

Beyond the utmost bound of human thought . . .


THERE LIES THE PORT; the vessel puffs her sail;

There gloom the dark, broad seas.

MY MARINERS,

Souls that have toil’d, and wrought, and thought with me,–

That ever with a frolic welcome took

The thunder and the sunshine, and opposed

Free hearts, free foreheads,

                                       — you and I are old;

Old age hath yet his honor and his toil.

DEATH CLOSES ALL;

but something ere the end,

Some work of noble note,

may yet be done,

Not unbecoming men that strove with Gods.


THE LIGHTS BEGIN TO TWINKLE from the rocks; The long day wanes; the slow moon climbs; the deep Moans round with many voices.


COME, MY FRIENDS.

‘T IS NOT TOO LATE

to seek a newer world.

PUSH OFF, and sitting well in order smite The sounding furrows;

for my purpose holds To sail beyond the sunset, and the baths Of all the western stars, until I die.


IT MAY BE that the gulfs

will wash us down;

It may be we shall

touch the Happy Isles,

And see the great Achilles,

whom we knew.

Tho’ much is taken, much abides; and tho’ We are not now


that strength

which in old days

Moved earth and heaven,

that which we are, we are,–

One equal temper of




heroic hearts,

Made weak by time and fate,

but strong in will

To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.

There was a time when House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers was a fierce warrior for impeachment. As a fourth-term congressman in 1972, Conyers was one of the first to introduce a House resolution calling for the impeachment of President Richard Nixon, even before the Watergate burglary had occurred. In 1974, just after President Gerald Ford pardoned Nixon, Conyers wrote an essay entitled, Why Nixon Should Have Been Impeached, in which he laid out his case for an article of impeachment condemning Nixon’s illegal bombing and invasion of Cambodia, as well as the constitutional threat posed to America by the choice not to pursue impeachment.

But since taking over chairmanship of the Judiciary Committee in January 2007 – the same Judiciary Committee on which Conyers served in 1974 when its members drafted the three articles of impeachment against Nixon that were about to be voted on by the House when Nixon abruptly resigned – Conyers’ passion for impeachment has cooled considerably. Why, is anyone’s guess. One possibility might simply be Conyers’ age – he is now 78 years old, not the 42 he was when he introduced his first impeachment resolution. Another, more disturbing, possibility might be that Conyers has been pressured by the Democratic leadership in Congress to forgo talk of impeachment, for what reasons one can only imagine.

Regardless of the reason, Conyers for some time has not carried the torch he once bore. The impeachment flame burns dim in him, if it burns at all.

And yet – perhaps because I am a romantic at heart – I continue to hope. Conyers’ descent into complacency reminded me of one of my favorite poems, a poem that tells the story of a once-proud warrior who finally chafes at his now-banal existence, and resolves to undertake one last campaign, a campaign to achieve “some work of noble note” before the end. Perhaps Congressman Conyers will feel the same desire to leave a meaningful legacy.

Also available in Orange

Photos, first to last: Rep. John Conyers; Conyers; Conyers and Martin Luther King, Jr.; Conyers; Conyers; Conyers and Rep. Shirley Chisholm; Conyers; Conyers; U.S. Capitol; Rep. Peter Rodino, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee 1973-1989; Rep. Bella Abzug and Chisholm; George W. Bush; Dick Cheney; Richard Nixon; Vice President Spiro Agnew; Atty. Gen. John Mitchell; Conyers; Senate Watergate Committee Chairman Sam Ervin; Conyers and Chisholm; Conyers and King; Conyers; Conyers.

23 comments

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  1. Thanks for reading.

    I urge you to read as well Conyers’ own 1974 essay, Why Nixon should have been impeached.

    You might also enjoy Dismantling the arguments against impeachment.

  2. I am not so optimistic.

    I was thinking that night about Elvis

    Day that he died, day that he died

    I was thinking that night about Elvis

    Day that he died, day that he died

    He was all alone in a long decline

    Thinking how happy John Henry was that he fell down and died

    When he shook it and he rang like silver

    He shook it and he shine like gold

    He shook it and he beat that steam drill, baby

    Well bless my soul.

    An aged man is but a paltry thing,

    A tattered coat upon a stick, unless

    Soul clap its hands and sing, and louder sing

    For every tatter in its mortal dress,

    Nor is there singing school but studying

    Monuments of its own magnificence;

  3. Both graphics and poetry. Inspired idea, powerfully executed.

    • OPOL on June 10, 2008 at 7:14 pm

    as always.

  4. and Lord Alfred, someday in the afterlife. Okay?

    < grin >

    thanks, oh, for great visuals and literature, as always.

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