Tennyson, Kennedy and the Immigration Discussion

“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, ‘tis not too late to seek a newer world. “ Alfred Lord Tennyson.

Alfred Lord Tennyson wrote the above in his poem entitled, Ulysses. I first heard them over the weeekend while watching a documentary about the life of Robert F. Kennedy, brother of President John F. Kennedy. They struck me because of their lyricism and their idealism. They were also written at a time of great conflict and political violence in the United States. Kennedy did not quote them specifically as they relate to immigration, as I see it, but rather as a call to Americans, in my hearing of it, to move forward together toward the ideals upon which this country were founded.

We currently have deep divisions about how the country should move forward, and many people express frustration with the speed of our ability to resolve issues. In that documentary there was a clip of a speech with either a member of Congress or the Senate. He said something to the effect that the country is too divided to get anything done. It struck me because I hear the same lament often in interviews I see on the news and in conversations I have with friends. In another interview, one historian stated that the pace of change in the United States is so slow because the Founders designed it this way. It seems that we were having the same discussion in 1960 as we are today,. I find that reassuring because it means although we live in a time of great upheaval in many ways, we continue to move forward toward a “newer world.”