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George Wallace

Poet George Wallace



Wave on, Bear Flag!  The symbol of a State
That grew from dreams of early pioneers
Who raised your honored folds to designate
The democratic ideals man reveres.
Bear Flag, the group of men who gave you fame
Raised you aloft before they touched a pen
To write a Constitution.  You became
A standard of far more importance then.
These men were first impelled to show a sign
To indicate their pent-up inner need
For self-determination.  You combine
The thought, the ideal, with the dream and deed.
Wave on, above a proud and sovereign State,
That courage, vision, love of law made great.


As published 4-62 in the State's pamphlet

old red paint

william l todd after the bear flag revolt
sonoma, california, june 14 1846

there was rust on the ten guns of the presidio
& everyone knew that pio pico, the governor
in los angeles, had as low an opinion of california
as anyone in mexico. at least that's what
uncle abe - that illinois lawyer who married my father's
sister mary - said after. anyone who thought the californios
might give us a time of it didn't know them from beans -
just a year or so back in one of the little dustups
they were always having amongst themselves,
the only casualty was a dead horse on the one side
and a wounded mule on the other. so with fremont
riding in from oregon, some of the local boys
got it into their heads to steal a few horses,
and we all stormed vallejo's fort. it was a lark -
everyone knew mariano was a yanqui sympathizer
anyhow and a considerable gentleman, just looking
to roll over without getting himself in a pickle
with the mexicans. there was no soldiers inside
besides, just him, leese and a frenchman.
so vallejo up and invites us all in for a drink
and a nice easy surrender, while one of the boys
hoists my flag in the courtyard. it wasn't any
big project really, just a yard and a half of brown cotton
i found and dressed up with some old red paint. i put
a star and a stripe on, and what to me looked to be
a reasonaby good grizzly. i know some of the californios
complained, one of them even went so far as to suggest
it had more the look of a pig about it, not a proper bear
at all, but the noise stopped when one of the chiefest
of the horse thieves - merritt, knight or semple, i forget
which - comes out of the fort. he's pretty drunk and swaggering
and free with his words, and pointing at my flag
and saying look at that, if that isn't a great looking bear,
don't worry about what the californios have got
to say about it, from now on we can call ourselves
a nation, can't we boys, and that's exactly what we did.

Central California Poetry Journal,Volume 2000 Number 1, The Poetry of Central California, Page 0012
The Poetry of George Wallace



August 4, 2013


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