Skip To Content
BuzzFeed News Home Reporting To You

Utilizamos cookies, próprios e de terceiros, que o reconhecem e identificam como um usuário único, para garantir a melhor experiência de navegação, personalizar conteúdo e anúncios, e melhorar o desempenho do nosso site e serviços. Esses Cookies nos permitem coletar alguns dados pessoais sobre você, como sua ID exclusiva atribuída ao seu dispositivo, endereço de IP, tipo de dispositivo e navegador, conteúdos visualizados ou outras ações realizadas usando nossos serviços, país e idioma selecionados, entre outros. Para saber mais sobre nossa política de cookies, acesse link.

Caso não concorde com o uso cookies dessa forma, você deverá ajustar as configurações de seu navegador ou deixar de acessar o nosso site e serviços. Ao continuar com a navegação em nosso site, você aceita o uso de cookies.

Small Stuff for BuzzFeed News

Poem: "A New National Anthem" By Ada Limón

"Every song of this country / has an unsung third stanza, something brutal / snaking underneath us as we blindly sing / the high notes..."

Posted on December 2, 2016, at 3:10 p.m. ET

The truth is, I’ve never cared for the National
Anthem. If you think about it, it’s not a good
song. Too high for most of us with “the rockets
red glare” and then there are the bombs.
(Always, always, there is war and bombs.)
Once, I sang it at homecoming and threw
even the tenacious high school band off key.
But the song didn’t mean anything, just a call
to the field, something to get through before
the pummeling of youth. And what of the stanzas
we never sing, the third that mentions “no refuge
could save the hireling and the slave”? Perhaps,
the truth is, every song of this country
has an unsung third stanza, something brutal
snaking underneath us as we blindly sing
the high notes with a beer sloshing in the stands
hoping our team wins. Don’t get me wrong, I do
like the flag, how it undulates in the wind
like water, elemental, and best when it’s humbled,
brought to its knees, clung to by someone who
has lost everything, when it’s not a weapon,
when it flickers, when it folds up so perfectly
you can keep it until it’s needed, until you can
love it again, until the song in your mouth feels
like sustenance, a song where the notes are sung
by even the ageless woods, the short-grass plains,
the Red River Gorge, the fistful of land left
unpoisoned, that song that’s our birthright,
that’s sung in silence when it’s too hard to go on,
that sounds like someone’s rough fingers weaving
into another’s, that sounds like a match being lit
in an endless cave, the song that says my bones
are your bones, and your bones are my bones,
and isn’t that enough?


Jude Domski

Ada Limón is the author of Lucky Wreck (2006), This Big Fake World (2006), Sharks in the Rivers (2010), and Bright Dead Things (2015), a finalist for the National Book Award and the National Books Critics Circle Award. She earned an MFA from New York University, and is the recipient of fellowships from the New York Foundation for the Arts, the Provincetown Fine Arts Work Center, and the Kentucky Foundation for Women. Her work has appeared in numerous publications including The New Yorker, the Harvard Review, Pleiades, and Barrow Street. Limón is on faculty of the Queens University of Charlotte Low Residency M.F.A. program and the 24Pearl Street Online Program for the Provincetown Fine Arts Work Center. She splits her time between Kentucky, California, and New York.

  • Picture of Ada Limón

    Ada Limón is the author ofLucky Wreck (2006), This Big Fake World (2006),Sharks in the Rivers (2010), and Bright Dead Things(2015), a finalist for the National Book Award and the National Books Critics Circle Award. She earned an MFA from New York University, and is the recipient of fellowships from the New York Foundation for the Arts, the Provincetown Fine Arts Work Center, and the Kentucky Foundation for Women. Her work has appeared in numerous publications including The New Yorker, the Harvard Review, Pleiades, and Barrow Street. Limón is on faculty of the Queens University of Charlotte Low Residency M.F.A program and the 24Pearl Street Online Program for the Provincetown Fine Arts Work Center. She splits her time between Kentucky, California, and New York.

    Contact Ada Limón at saeed.jones+AdaLimon@buzzfeed.com.

    Got a confidential tip? Submit it here.

Want to see more stories like this? Become a BuzzFeed News member.

ADVERTISEMENT