As I discussed in my last post, I’ve embarked on an effort to memorize stuff that interests me. I’m finding that the more I memorize stuff, the easier is to memorize and retain new stuff.
So as I just finished up memorizing the poem Invictus, I decided to go large and take on the grandest, and perhaps greatest, of all letters penned on behalf of these United States, The Declaration of Independence.
Yeah, maybe I am getting a little cocky/in over my head taking on such a significant body of work — significant as in packed with meaning, and, especially, significant as in packed with a lot of words. One-thousand, four-hundred and fifty-eight of them to be exact.
As I was just telling my good buddy Aimer Boyz, its hard to appreciate how complex, and long, the document is until its written out fully in long hand.
Tough work, but I’m glad I did it because I’ve learned (I’d like to be able to say re-learned since I’m sure I had to read the sucker in one of my social studies or problems of democracy classes at some point in my youth, but in all honesty I’d gather that at least 90% of the document was as if I was reading it for the first time) so much from it.
I’ve learned two things from the document that are particularly noteworthy to me:
One very cool thing I’ve discovered is that it seems our Founding Fathers – aka The Original Gs of the American Good Ol’ Boys Network – were well versed in Shakespeare’s Hamlet, for one passage from the declaration reads almost the same as a line from Act III Scene I of the play (the same act and scene which I’ve recently memorized, coincidentally enough), the To Be Or Not To Be soliloquy where Hamlet is debating with himself whether he should kill his uncle for killing his father and marrying his mother, an act which would surely lead to his own death, or whether he should cut to the chase and just kill himself instead and be done with the messy matter once and for all:
Who would fardels bear, to grunt and sweat under a weary life, but that the dread of something after death – the undiscovered country from whose borne no traveler returns – puzzles the will, and makes us rather bear those ills we have than fly to others that we know not of?
And now, a couple hundred years later as the newly determined American O Gs are about to list out all King Georgie’s many ills borne upon them, we read:
Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed.
Pretty cool to see in action one very solid and enormous example of fine literature impacting the course of history.
And the other noteworthy lesson I’ve learned from my close reading of the document, this one less cool than it is telling of how long my country has been struggling with the complex issue of immigration, is that the O Gs were highly frustrated by King Georgie the Third’s efforts to keep folks from emigrating to the colonies:
He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither….
Yeah, I’ll let you know when I’ve got that old sucker of a declaration memorized and tucked away tight in that ol’ noggin’ of mine.
Might be a while…