Thursday, May 31, 2007

The Chesapeake and the Shannon by Anonymous

The Chesapeake and the Shannon

Now the Chesapeake so bold, sailed from Boston, we've been told,
For to take the British frigate neat and handy, O!
The people of the port all came out to see the sport,
And the bands were playing Yankee doodle dandy, O!

The British frigate's name, which for the purpose came
To cool the Yankee courage neat and handy, O!
Was the Shannon, Captain Broke, all her men were hearts of oak,
And in fighting, was allowed to be the dandy, O!

The fight had scarce begun when they flinched from their guns
which at first they started workin' neat and handy, O!
Then brave Broke he waved his sword, crying, "Now, my lads, aboard,"
And we'll stop their playing Yankee doodle dandy, O!

They no sooner heard the word, when they quickly jump'd aboard,
And hauled down the Yankee colors neat and handy, O!
Notwithstanding all their brag, now the glorious British flag
At the Yankee mizzen-peak was quite the dandy, O!

Here's a health brave Broke to you, to your officers and crew,
Who aboard the Shannon frigate fought so handy, O!
And may it ever prove that in fighting, and in love,
The British tar will ever be the dandy, O!
--Broadsheet ballad by Unknown Author

I had just finished listening to The Fortune of War by Patrick O'Brian, when I heard this song come on my random shuffle. It took me only a moment or two to realize that it was talking about the very battle I'd just heard about in the story. The British Navy had suffered a string of defeats against the large new American frigates, and Captain Broke of the Shannon, after blockading Boston, burning captured merchant vessels rather than making prize of them to keep his crew intact, and nearly running out of supplies, was forced to make the decision to return to Halifax for supplies. He knew that when he returned, the Chesapeake would have left Boston harbor, and would be free to prey on more British vessels, so he sent in a letter with some prisoners challenging Lawrence, the American Captain to a fair fight. The Chesapeake came out of the harbor before the letter reached it with the same idea in mind. The people in town went out onto the headland to watch. The battle was fierce, but the Shannon was dismasted, and her captain was mortally wounded. His last words were, "Don't give up the ship!" When the British boarded, however, they were forced to strike their colors.

I find that I am a bit conflicted when I hear stories like this. I like for the British navy to win battles, since in the novels I read, they're generally the heroes. At the same time, I am an American, and like to hear about American bravery and Victory. I imagine that many of the people in the colonies during the Revolutionary War and War of 1812 were similarly conflicted.

If you're interested in the tune, you can hear it here.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

A Red Red Rose by Robert Burns

A Red Red Rose

O my Luve's like a red, red rose
That's newly sprung in June;
O my Luve's like the melodie
That's sweetly played in tune.

As fair art thou, my bonnie lass,
So deep in luve am I;
And I will luve thee still, my dear,
Till a' the seas gang dry:

Till a' the seas gang dry, my dear,
And the rocks melt wi' the sun;
I will luve thee still, my dear,
While the sands o' life shall run.

And fare thee weel, my only Luve,
And fare thee weel awhile!
And I will come again, my Luve,
Tho' it ware ten thousand mile.
-- Robert Burns

I sure am lucky to have somebody who loves me. I like poems that just talk about how in love the poet is. I also like poems that are written in dialect so you get funny lines like "till a' the seas gang dry" and you get to pretend like there's nothing silly at all about talking like that. Those crazy Scots.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

The Man in the Moon Came Down Too Soon by JRR Tolkien

The Man in the Moon Came Down Too Soon

Hey, Diddle, Diddle
Hey, diddle, diddle,
The cat and the fiddle,
The cow jumped over the moon.
The little dog laughed
To see such sport,
And the dish ran away with the spoon.

The Man in the Moon Came Down Too Soon
There is an inn, a merry old inn
Beneath an old grey hill,
And there they brew a beer so brown
That the Man in the Moon himself came down
One night to drink his fill.

The ostler has a tipsy cat
That plays a five-stringed fiddle;
And up and down he saws his bow
Now squeaking high, now purring low,
Now sawing in the middle.

The landlord keeps a little dog
That is mighty fond of jokes;
When there's good cheer among the guests,
He cocks an ear at all the jests
And laughs until he chokes.

They also keep a hornéd cow
As proud as any queen;
But music turns her head like ale,
And makes her wave her tufted tail
And dance upon the green.

And O! the rows of silver dishes
And the store of silver spoons!
For Sunday there's a special pair,
And these they polish up with care
on Saturday afternoons.

The Man in the Moon was drinking deep,
And the cat began to wail;
A dish and a spoon on the table danced,
The cow in the garden madly pranced
And the little dog chased his tail.

The Man in the Moon took another mug,
And then rolled beneath his chair;
And there he dozed and dreamed of ale,
Till in the sky the stars were pale,
And dawn was in the air.

Then the ostler said to his tipsy cat:
'The white horses of the Moon,
They neigh and champ their silver bits;
But their master's been and drowned his wits,
And the Sun'll be rising soon!'

So the cat on the fiddle played hey-diddle-diddle,
A jig that would wake the dead:
He squeaked and sawed and quickened the tune,
While the landlord shook the Man in the Moon:
'It's after three!' he said.

They rolled the Man slowly up the hill
And bundled him into the Moon,
While his horses galloped up in rear,
And the cow came capering like a deer,
And a dish ran up with the spoon.

Now quicker the fiddle went deedle-dum-diddle;
The dog began to roar,
The cow and the horses stood on their heads;
The guests all bounded from their beds
And danced upon the floor.

With a ping and a pang the fiddle-strings broke!
The cow jumped over the Moon,
And the little dog laughed to see such fun,
And the Saturday dish went off at a run
With the silver Sunday spoon.

The round Moon rolled behind the hill,
As the Sun raised up her head.
She hardly believed her fiery eyes;
For though it was day, to her surprise
They all went back to bed!
--JRR Tolkien

I skipped doing a long poem yesterday, so I thought I'd do both a long and short today. I love the very idea of Tolkien's poem: this bit of nonsense is so pervasive in our world, it must have meant something at some time, so why not imagine what it might have been? It's kind of what he did for the whole Lord of the Rings series. Anyway, I also think it's just plain fun.

Monday, May 28, 2007

In Flanders Fields by John McCrae

In Flanders Fields

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved, and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.
--John McCrae

Here's another Memorial Day poem--probably the most famous and often read. It tells about the utter waste war seems to be from one perspective, and yet acknowledges that it has to go on sometimes. It's hard to do both, even though many people have these conflicting emotions about it.

On a happier note, it's my birthday, so everybody sing happy birthday to me!

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Navy Hymn by William Whiting

Navy Hymn

Eternal Father, strong to save,
Whose arm hath bound the restless wave,
Who bidd'st the mighty ocean deep
Its own appointed limits keep;
Oh, hear us when we cry to Thee,
For those in peril on the sea!

O Christ! Whose voice the waters heard
And hushed their raging at Thy word,
Who walked'st on the foaming deep,
And calm amidst its rage didst sleep;
Oh, hear us when we cry to Thee,
For those in peril on the sea!

Most Holy Spirit! Who didst brood
Upon the chaos dark and rude,
And bid its angry tumult cease,
And give, for wild confusion, peace;
Oh, hear us when we cry to Thee,
For those in peril on the sea!

O Trinity of love and power!
Our brethren shield in danger's hour;
From rock and tempest, fire and foe,
Protect them wheresoe'er they go;
Thus evermore shall rise to Thee
Glad hymns of praise from land and sea.
--William Whiting

Karen's alternate version:
Eternal Father, strong to save,
Whose arm hath bound the restless wave,
Who bidd'st the mighty ocean deep
Its own appointed limits keep;
Oh, hear us when we cry to Thee,
For those in peril on the sea!

O master at whose wild command
The earth moves forth with splendor grand
O'er plains and rocky cliffs so steep
We pray thee guard thy wandering sheep.
Oh hear our plea, hold in thy hand
All those in peril on the land.

Thou keeper of the souls of men
We ask they blessed hand to lend
Us strength for days of toil and strife
And bring on us immortal life
Oh, hear us when we cry to Thee,
For those in peril on the sea!

O Spirit, whom the father sent,
To spread abroad the firmament:
O Wind of Heaven, by Thy might
Save all who dare the eagle’s flight,
And keep them by the watchful care
From every peril in the air.

Almighty ruler of the all
Whose power extends to great and small,
Who guides the stars with steadfast law,
Whose least creation fills with awe—
Oh grant Thy mercy and Thy grace
To those who venture into space.

Almighty God of Love and Power,
Our brethren shield in danger’s hour;
From rock and tempest, fire and foe,
Protect them wheresoe’er they go;
Thus evermore shall rise to Thee
Glad praise from space, air, land and sea.

Here is a poem for Memorial Day. We'll be praying for all those who are out there fighting for cause they believe in. We'll be praying that peace can be restored and that they can get home safely.

The original version of this song, shown first, is known as the Navy Hymn for obvious reasons. There are a gazillion alternate verses for every part of the military and also specific situations. The Wikipedia article has a smattering of them, but it is by no means definitive. I've cobbled together my favorite verses from various sources--surprised that none of the versions I have in my music collection matches my ideal--I was sure that I was remembering it, and it seems it's just a mish-mash of other versions. Just to be clear, I am not claiming that I wrote any of those verses, but I can't find attributions for any of them except the space verse which was written by Robert Heinlein, and is a beautiful addition. If you want to hear the tune, you can click here.

Trees by Joyce Kilmer


I think that I shall never see
A poem lovely as a tree.

A tree whose hungry mouth is prest
Against the sweet earth's flowing breast;

A tree that looks at God all day,
And lifts her leafy arms to pray;

A tree that may in summer wear
A nest of robins in her hair;

Upon whose bosom snow has lain;
Who intimately lives with rain.

Poems are made by fools like me,
But only God can make a tree.
--Joyce Kilmer

I think that I shall never see
A billboard lovely as a tree;
Indeed, unless the billboards fall
I'll never see a tree at all
--Ogden Nash

Sorry I forgot to post yesterday--life is getting hectic with the move. Here's Saturday's poem.
Many poems have been gifted with humorous responses by other authors. Sometimes it's parody, sometimes homage, sometimes response, sometimes rebuttal. Here's one of my favorites. The original is a lovely bit of Nature poetry. I like the way he makes the tree seem conscious, and yet not altogether human - almost like he's writing about an ent or dryad. The second is the sort of witty rhyme that we have come to expect from Ogden Nash. I wonder if his poems are so often short because it takes him forever to find just the right way of saying it, or if a quick rhyme or two pops into his head and he just whips it off and is done with it.

Friday, May 25, 2007

When You Thought I Wasn’t Looking by Mary Rita Schilke Korzan

When You Thought I Wasn’t Looking

When you thought I wasn’t looking
You hung my first painting on the refrigerator
And I wanted to paint another.

When you thought I wasn’t looking
You fed a stray cat
And I thought it was good to be kind to animals.

When you thought I wasn’t looking
You baked a birthday cake just for me
And I knew that little things were special things.

When you thought I wasn’t looking
You said a prayer
And I believed there was a God that I could always talk to.

When you thought I wasn’t looking
You kissed me good-night
And I felt loved.

When you thought I wasn’t looking
I saw tears come from your eyes
And I learned that sometimes things hurt—
But that it's alright to cry.

When you thought I wasn’t looking
You smiled
And it made me want to look that pretty too.

When you thought I wasn’t looking
You cared
And I wanted to be everything I could be.

When you thought I wasn’t looking—
I looked . . .
And wanted to say thanks
For all those things you did
When you thought I wasn’t looking.
--Mary Rita Schilke Korzan

Today's post is brought to you by Daddy:
Here is a poem that sums up Mom pretty well. More than two decades ago, a young woman soon to graduate from college and get married reflected on her life and was filled with gratitude for the goodness and example of her mother. After praying for divine assistance to express in words her love and appreciation, Mary Rita Schilke Korzan wrote a poem titled “When You Thought I Wasn’t Looking” and dedicated it to her mother. Years later she was surprised to find the poem in a book with the words “author unknown.” Mary eventually unraveled the mystery of lost authorship, driven by a desire that those who read the poem would know the person who inspired it—her mother.

I want to say that I certainly learned a lot of lessons like this from both my parents. Thanks Mom and Dad!

Thursday, May 24, 2007

O Captain! My Captain! by Walt Whitman

O Captain! My Captain!

O Captain! my Captain! our fearful trip is done;
The ship has weathered every rack, the prize we sought is won;
The port is near, the bells I hear, the people all exulting,
While follow eyes the steady keel, the vessel grim and daring.
But O heart! heart! heart!
O the bleeding drops of red!
Where on the deck my Captain lies,
Fallen cold and dead.

O captain! my Captain! rise up and hear the bells;
Rise up! For you the flag is flung, for you the bugle trills:
For you bouquets and ribboned wreaths, for you the shores a-crowding:
For you they call, the swaying mass, their eager faces turning.
Here Captain! dear father!
This arm beneath your head;
It is some dream that on the deck,
You've fallen cold and dead.

My Captain does not answer, his lips are pale and still;
My father does not feel my arm, he has no pulse nor will;
The ship is anchor'd safe and sound, its voyage closed and done;
From fearful trip the victor ship comes in with object won!
Exult, O shores, and ring, O bells!
But I with mournful tread,
Walk the deck my Captain lies,
Fallen cold and dead.
--Walt Whitman

This is, and is not, a sea poem. Everyone knows it was written in memory of Abraham Lincoln after his murder, but it uses nautical imagery that even people today with no seafaring experience find powerful. I guess that's why I've found so much enjoyment in the Aubrey-Maturin books. There's something universal about the image of a ship -- an enclosed community that works hard together through the most trying of times towards a common goal. It can be a metaphor for any number of communities -- family, country, church, neighborhood, school, etc.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Believe Me, If All Those Endearing Young Charms by Thomas Moore

Believe Me, If All Those Endearing Young Charms

Believe me, if all those endearing young charms,
Which I gaze on so fondly today,
Were to change by tomorrow, and fleet in my arms,
Like fairy-gifts fading away,
Thou wouldst still be adored, as this moment thou art,
Let thy loveliness fade as it will,
And around the dear ruin each wish of my heart
Would entwine itself verdantly still.

It is not while beauty and youth are thine own,
And thy cheeks unprofaned by a tear
That the fervor and faith of a soul can be known,
To which time will but make thee more dear;
No, the heart that has truly loved never forgets,
But as truly loves on to the close,
As the sunflower turns on her god, when he sets,
The same look which she turned when he rose.
-- Thomas Moore

I wanted to post this poem when I saw the pictures of my great grandparents that were sent out on our family list last week. I picked these two pictures of my grandparents because I wanted to show them when they were first married and then older. It's a happy thought that love grows, and changes, and still stays the same -- just like people do.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

One Misty, Moisty, Morning by Anonymous

One Misty, Moisty, Morning

One misty, moisty, morning,
When cloudy was the weather,
I chanced to meet an old man
Clad all in leather

Clad all in leather,
With a cap beneath his chin.
How do you do?
And how do you do?
And how do you do again?

I often think about this nursery rhyme on misty moisty mornings. Of course, we haven't had many of those this year in California -- it's one of the driest on record -- but a couple of years ago when we were having the wettest on record, there were plenty of them. I like the simplicity of this poem, and, of course, the alliteration and rhythm.

Monday, May 21, 2007

The Jumblies by Edward Lear

The Jumblies

They went to sea in a Sieve, they did,
In a Sieve they went to sea:
In spite of all their friends could say,
On a winter's morn, on a stormy day,
In a Sieve they went to sea!
And when the Sieve turned round and round,
And every one cried, `You'll all be drowned!'
They called aloud, `Our Sieve ain't big,
But we don't care a button! we don't care a fig!
In a Sieve we'll go to sea!'
Far and few, far and few,
Are the lands where the Jumblies live;
Their heads are green, and their hands are blue,
And they went to sea in a Sieve.

They sailed away in a Sieve, they did,
In a Sieve they sailed so fast,
With only a beautiful pea-green veil
Tied with a riband by way of a sail,
To a small tobacco-pipe mast;
And every one said, who saw them go,
`O won't they be soon upset, you know!
For the sky is dark, and the voyage is long,
And happen what may, it's extremely wrong
In a Sieve to sail so fast!'
Far and few, far and few,
Are the lands where the Jumblies live;
Their heads are green, and their hands are blue,
And they went to sea in a Sieve.

The water it soon came in, it did,
The water it soon came in;
So to keep them dry, they wrapped their feet
In a pinky paper all folded neat,
And they fastened it down with a pin.
And they passed the night in a crockery-jar,
And each of them said, `How wise we are!
Though the sky be dark, and the voyage be long,
Yet we never can think we were rash or wrong,
While round in our Sieve we spin!'
Far and few, far and few,
Are the lands where the Jumblies live;
Their heads are green, and their hands are blue,
And they went to sea in a Sieve.

And all night long they sailed away;
And when the sun went down,
They whistled and warbled a moony song
To the echoing sound of a coppery gong,
In the shade of the mountains brown.
`O Timballo! How happy we are,
When we live in a Sieve and a crockery-jar,
And all night long in the moonlight pale,
We sail away with a pea-green sail,
In the shade of the mountains brown!'
Far and few, far and few,
Are the lands where the Jumblies live;
Their heads are green, and their hands are blue,
And they went to sea in a Sieve.

They sailed to the Western Sea, they did,
To a land all covered with trees,
And they bought an Owl, and a useful Cart,
And a pound of Rice, and a Cranberry Tart,
And a hive of silvery Bees.
And they bought a Pig, and some green Jack-daws,
And a lovely Monkey with lollipop paws,
And forty bottles of Ring-Bo-Ree,
And no end of Stilton Cheese.
Far and few, far and few,
Are the lands where the Jumblies live;
Their heads are green, and their hands are blue,
And they went to sea in a Sieve.

And in twenty years they all came back,
In twenty years or more,
And every one said, `How tall they've grown!
For they've been to the Lakes, and the Torrible Zone,
And the hills of the Chankly Bore!'
And they drank their health, and gave them a feast
Of dumplings made of beautiful yeast;
And every one said, `If we only live,
We too will go to sea in a Sieve,---
To the hills of the Chankly Bore!'
Far and few, far and few,
Are the lands where the Jumblies live;
Their heads are green, and their hands are blue,
And they went to sea in a Sieve.
--Edward Lear

I first heard this poem on The Writer's Alminac with Garrison Keillor which I get as a podcast. I had always associated Edward Lear with limericks, but didn't realize that his Nonsense Books include songs, poems, plays, pictures, stories, and even botany! I also found out recently (also on the Writer's Alminac) that he was a well known botanical and zoological painter as well. It was only after he had done some work for Charles Darwin, painting specimens from the Beagle, and had been hired to come and paint the animals in the Earl of Darby's private zoo, when he met the Earl's grandchildren and started making up nonsense for them. I think it's especially interesting that his drawings for those books are so very different than his serious work.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Light Shining Out Of Darkness by William Cowper

Light Shining Out Of Darkness

God moves in a mysterious way,
His wonders to perform;
He plants his footsteps in the sea,
And rides upon the storm.

Deep in unfathomable mines
Of never failing skill
He treasures up his bright designs,
And works his sovereign will.

Ye fearful saints fresh courage take,
The clouds ye so much dread
Are big with mercy, and shall break
In blessings on your head.

Judge not the LORD by feeble sense,
But trust him for his grace;
Behind a frowning providence,
He hides a smiling face.

His purposes will ripen fast,
Unfolding every hour;
The bud may have a bitter taste,
But sweet will be the flow'r.

Blind unbelief is sure to err,
And scan his work in vain;
GOD is his own interpreter,
And he will make it plain.
-- William Cowper

Again with the mysterious and non-concrete. I feel very lost and drifting right now -- like nothing in my life is under my control. I hope everything will be OK for moving into the Mobile home by the end of this month, but it all depends on people I don't know completing their paperwork efficiently. I hope we can get assistance for moving the furniture, but we can't ask for it till we know when we're moving, and we won't know till the paperwork is done. I hope I can get everything packed up safely -- but after working most of yesterday I was entirely wiped out. I napped for at least 6 hours on and off today. I didn't even do any lifting and carrying -- mostly, I was just putting things away so they'd all end up in the right boxes. I won't be able to do this on my own...I just have to trust that God knows what he's doing with our lives.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost

The Road Not Taken

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that, the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
--Robert Frost

This is a very famous poem. I think what I like about it is the abstract nature of most of it. Where was he going? Was he just walking through the woods to enjoy nature, or did he have a destination? Did he get somewhere different because of the different road, or just see different trees? Was he wandring lonely as a cloud and happened to find the daffodils because he went the right way -- or is that the road that everyone else took and he missed them? Why won't he be back there again? What was "all the difference?" Was it good or bad? He doesn't say. He doesn't say that being completely different than everyone else is the path to happiness. He doesn't say that conformity is good. He lets you decide for yourself.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer

Here bygynneth the Book of the Tales of Caunterbury

Whan that Aprill, with his shoures soote
The droghte of March hath perced to the roote
And bathed every veyne in swich licour,
Of which vertu engendred is the flour;

Whan Zephirus eek with his sweete breeth
Inspired hath in every holt and heeth
The tendre croppes, and the yonge sonne
Hath in the Ram his halfe cours yronne,

And smale foweles maken melodye,
That slepen al the nyght with open eye-
(So priketh hem Nature in hir corages);
Thanne longen folk to goon on pilgrimages

And palmeres for to seken straunge strondes
To ferne halwes, kowthe in sondry londes;
And specially from every shires ende
Of Engelond, to Caunterbury they wende,

The hooly blisful martir for to seke
That hem hath holpen, whan that they were seeke.

Bifil that in that seson, on a day,
In Southwerk at the Tabard as I lay
Redy to wenden on my pilgrymage
To Caunterbury with ful devout corage,

At nyght was come into that hostelrye
Wel nyne and twenty in a compaignye
Of sondry folk, by aventure yfalle
In felaweshipe, and pilgrimes were they alle,

That toward Caunterbury wolden ryde.
The chambres and the stables weren wyde,
And wel we weren esed atte beste;
And shortly, whan the sonne was to reste,

So hadde I spoken with hem everichon
That I was of hir felaweshipe anon,
And made forward erly for to ryse
To take our wey, ther as I yow devyse.

But nathelees, whil I have tyme and space,
Er that I ferther in this tale pace,
Me thynketh it acordaunt to resoun
To telle yow al the condicioun

Of ech of hem, so as it semed me,
And whiche they weren, and of what degree,
And eek in what array that they were inne;
And at a knyght than wol I first bigynne.
--Geoffrey Chaucer

This is one of the Poems I memorized for extra credit points in Mr Strohm's class. I believe that for the test day at least, I had the whole thing down. I feel bad about one thing, though. When he asked for volunteers to recite for the class, my hand was first to go up because I was excited. I did the whole thing, spot on, and sat down. After that no one else would recite -- not even ten lines which I know many of them had memorized. Oh well, at least they could still get points for writing it out.

I once got the audiobook of Canterbury Tales out from the library. I listened to it for a little while, but it quickly got a little too racy for me. When even Mr. Scholar Guy who kept poking his nose in to give analysis said something along the lines of, "And the cheeks on the face are not the principal ones kissed." I knew I was done.

One last thing: We walk in the garden of his turbulence. Yaaaaay!

Thursday, May 17, 2007

The Derelict by Young E. Allison

The Derelict

Fifteen men on a dead man's chest
Yo ho ho and a bottle of rum
Drink and the devil had done for the rest
Yo ho ho and a bottle of rum
The mate was fixed by the bosun's pike
The bosun brained with a marlinespike
And cookey's throat was marked belike
It had been gripped by fingers ten;
And there they lay, all good dead men
Like break o'day in a boozing ken
Yo ho ho and a bottle of rum!

Fifteen men of the whole ship's list
Yo ho ho and a bottle of rum!
Dead and be damned and the rest gone whist!
Yo ho ho and a bottle of rum!
The skipper lay with his nob in gore
Where the scullion's axe his cheek had shore
And the scullion he was stabbed times four
And there they lay, and the soggy skies
Dripped down in up-staring eyes
In murk sunset and foul sunrise
Yo ho ho and a bottle of rum!

Fifteen men of 'em stiff and stark
Yo ho ho and a bottle of rum!
Ten of the crew had the murder mark!
Yo ho ho and a bottle of rum!
Twas a cutlass swipe or an ounce of lead
Or a yawing hole in a battered head
And the scuppers' glut with a rotting red
And there they lay, aye, damn my eyes
Looking up at paradise
All souls bound just contrawise
Yo ho ho and a bottle of rum!

Fifteen men of 'em good and true -
Yo ho ho and a bottle of rum!
Ev'ry man jack could ha' sailed with Old Pew,
Yo ho ho and a bottle of rum!
There was chest on chest of Spanish gold
With a ton of plate in the middle hold
And the cabins riot of stuff untold,
And they lay there that took the plum
With sightless glare and their lips struck dumb
While we shared all by the rule of thumb,
Yo ho ho and a bottle of rum!

More was seen through a sternlight screen...
Yo ho ho and a bottle of rum
Chartings undoubt where a woman had been
Yo ho ho and a bottle of rum.
'Twas a flimsy shift on a bunker cot
With a dirk slit sheer through the bosom spot
And the lace stiff dry in a purplish blot
Oh was she wench or some shudderin' maid
That dared the knife and took the blade
By God! she had stuff for a plucky jade
Yo ho ho and a bottle of rum!

Fifteen men on a dead man's chest
Yo ho ho and a bottle of rum
Drink and the devil had done for the rest
Yo ho ho and a bottle of rum.
We wrapped 'em all in a mains'l tight
With twice ten turns of a hawser's bight
And we heaved 'em over and out of sight,
With a Yo-Heave-Ho! and a fare-you-well
And a sudden plunge in the sullen swell
Ten fathoms deep on the road to hell,
Yo ho ho and a bottle of rum!
--Young E. Allison

This poem is one of the greats of pirate literature. I had, of course, heard of it when I was a child -- I remember singing at least the chorus at a cub scout pack meeting in Livonia. When I started collecting Sea Chanties, I got a couple copies of this for my collection. I noticed pretty quickly that The Derelict was really composed -- rather than made up on the spot like most of the others were. Compare these lyrics to Drunken Sailor and you'll see what I mean. It has a beginning, a middle, and an end, and some clever rhymes and alliteration. Anyway, I thought it might be interesting to find out who had written it.

It's often attributed to Robert Louis Stevenson, and with good reason since the earliest references to it are in Treasure Island. There is more to the story, though. I have slightly edited the following from the Wikipedia article about the poem:
In 1883, Robert Louis Stevenson writes a Sea Shanty for Treasure Island. Though the full song is not reported. The chorus is given as:
"Fifteen men on the dead man's chest--
...Yo-ho-ho, and a bottle of rum!
Drink and the devil had done for the rest--
...Yo-ho-ho, and a bottle of rum!"

The book mentions one other phrase of the song, near its end: "But one man of her crew alive, What put to sea with seventy-five."

In 1891 poet Young E. Allison (1853-1932) expanded the original lines from the novel (minus the "one man alive" line) into a poem he named "The Derelict" and published in the Louisville Courier-Journal.

In 1901 music was added to the lyrics of "The Derelict" for a Broadway rendition of Treasure Island.

In 1967 Disney found inspiration in "The Derelict" for the sea-song "Yo Ho, Yo Ho (A Pirate's Life for Me)" which was played in the "Pirates of the Caribbean" theme ride at Disneyland.

So there you have it. The true history of the song. Be sure to go see the Pirates movie next weekend for my birthday!

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

How Do I Love Thee? by Elizabeth Barrett Browning

How Do I Love Thee?

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight
For the ends of Being and ideal Grace.

I love thee to the level of everyday's
Most quiet need, by sun and candlelight.
I love thee freely, as men strive for Right;
I love thee purely, as they turn from Praise.

I love thee with the passion put to use
In my old griefs, and with my childhood's faith.
I love thee with a love I seemed to lose
With my lost saints, I love thee with the breath,
Smiles, tears, of all my life! and, if God choose,
I shall but love thee better after death.
--Elizabeth Barrett Browning

This is one of those poems that gets quoted in cartoons all the time. Of course, they just do the first line, and then start counting, but it's still out there in the public consciousness like Beethoven's 5th, the Mona Lisa, etc. One of the things I like about this poem is that the sentences and the lines don't always end in the same places. I've tried my hand at writing poetry, and that is a tough thing to do, and even harder to do well.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Haiku by Jack Prelutsky


Mouse -
If not for the cat
And the scarcity of cheese,
I could be content.
--Jack Prelutsky

Jellyfish –
Boneless, translucent,
We undulate, undulate,
--Jack Prelutsky

These are from Jack Prelutsky's book If Not For The Cat. It's a nice book, and I'd recommend it to anybody who likes poetry, haiku, animals, or even just words. I especially like the way he uses 4 and 5 syllable words so well.

Monday, May 14, 2007

The Charge of the Light Brigade by Alfred, Lord Tennyson

The Charge of the Light Brigade

Half a league, half a league,
Half a league onward,
All in the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred.
"Forward, the Light Brigade!
"Charge for the guns!" he said:
Into the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred.

"Forward, the Light Brigade!"
Was there a man dismay'd?
Not tho' the soldier knew
Someone had blunder'd:
Theirs not to make reply,
Theirs not to reason why,
Theirs but to do and die:
Into the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred.

Cannon to right of them,
Cannon to left of them,
Cannon in front of them
Volley'd and thunder'd;
Storm'd at with shot and shell,
Boldly they rode and well,
Into the jaws of Death,
Into the mouth of Hell
Rode the six hundred.

Flash'd all their sabres bare,
Flash'd as they turn'd in air,
Sabring the gunners there,
Charging an army, while
All the world wonder'd:
Plunged in the battery-smoke
Right thro' the line they broke;
Cossack and Russian
Reel'd from the sabre stroke
Shatter'd and sunder'd.
Then they rode back, but not
Not the six hundred.

Cannon to right of them,
Cannon to left of them,
Cannon behind them
Volley'd and thunder'd;
Storm'd at with shot and shell,
While horse and hero fell,
They that had fought so well
Came thro' the jaws of Death
Back from the mouth of Hell,
All that was left of them,
Left of six hundred.

When can their glory fade?
O the wild charge they made!
All the world wondered.
Honor the charge they made,
Honor the Light Brigade,
Noble six hundred.
-- Alfred, Lord Tennyson

If you want to know the story of the events related in this poem, there's a quick account here or you can do a quick Google search and find several more detailed accounts. I once started reading a book about it called The Reason Why but it was too depressing as it talked about incompetent noblemen being promoted above their abilities, and that sort of stuff, so I just stopped.

What this poem really reminds me of is Pickett's charge--especially as envisioned in reverse by Buford:
"Meade will come in slowly, cautiously, new to command... And then, after Lee's army is entrenched behind nice fat rocks, Meade will attack finally, if he can coordinate the army. He'll attack right up that rocky slope, and up that gorgeous field of fire. And we will charge valiantly, and be butchered valiantly. And afterwards men in tall hats and gold watch fobs will thump their chest and say what a brave charge it was. Devin, I've led a soldier's life, and I've never seen anything as brutally clear as this."
-Union Brig. Gen. John Buford from Gettysburg based on The Killer Angels

It's also the sort of thing that my poem Sing for the Hero is about.

War is tough. It's a bad thing to have whole generations of young men fighting and dying. Sometimes, a cause is worth fighting for -- defending life and liberty for example, or perhaps to put it better, "In memory of our God, our religion, and freedom, and our peace, our wives, and our children" (Alma 46:12) It is entirely appropriate to honor those who fight and die with courage and honor in such causes, but we need to be careful to honor the cause and the men, and not the act of fighting and dying. That's why the lines, "Theirs not to make reply, Theirs not to reason why, Theirs but to do and die" are so often quoted in irony. It's only when there is a just cause and a real purpose that war is honorable. These men were brave and loyal, but ultimately, their sacrifice was worthless, and that makes me sad.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

“This Do in Remembrance of Me” by Elouise Bell

“This Do in Remembrance of Me”

Blinking out into the April brightness
One Sabbath after church,
I heard a Saint expound to a politely listening friend,
“With us, the sacrament is just a symbol.”

“Just a symbol.”
All the sunlong day and starlong night
Those slippery words shadowed me.

True enough: the bread but bread.
Yet the body offered up was real,
Its shattered nerves most verifiable
As pain spiked along the net.

Right enough: the water nothing more
But the shed blood pulsed power-poor,
Streamed swift, then slow, to dry and cake
Down racked arms and flanks.

How pallid the bread when pale the memory.
Yet sweet the nourishment when we his Spirit summon
By rich remembering.

Every symbol has two halves.
But to us falls the matching.
What match we, then, in sacramental token?
What fit we to the water, and the bread?
--Elouise Bell

Mom used this poem in a Seminary lesson one day, and gave us each a copy to keep in our scriptures. I lost mine eventually, and asked her where she'd gotten it so I could use it in a lesson at church. I was very pleased to find out that it had been published in the April 1980 Ensign, since that meant I didn't have to feel bad about using an outside source in my lesson.

What I like best about this poem is the last stanza. It is the best reason for scripture study. Every symbol has two halves--it's up to us to know what those two halves are so that we can properly match them together -- otherwise it's meaningless.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Curly Locks by James Whitcomb Riley

Curly Locks

Curly Locks! Curly Locks! wilt thou be mine?
Thou shalt not wash the dishes, nor yet feed the swine,
But sit on a cushion and sew a fine seam,
And feast upon strawberries, sugar and cream.

Curly Locks! Curly Locks! wilt thou be mine?
The throb of my heart is in every line,
And the pulse of a passion as airy and glad
In its musical beat as the little Prince had!

Thou shalt not wash the dishes, nor yet feed the swine!
O I'll dapple thy hands with these kisses of mine
Till the pink of the nail of each finger shall be
As a little pet blush in full blossom for me.

But sit on a cushion and sew a fine seam,
And thou shalt have fabric as fair as a dream,
The red of my veins, and the white of my love,
And the gold of my joy for the braiding thereof.

And feast upon strawberries, sugar and cream
From a service of silver, with jewels agleam,
At thy feet will I bide, at thy beck will I rise,
And twinkle my soul in the night of thy eyes!

Curly Locks! Curly Locks! wilt thou be mine?
Thou shalt not wash the dishes, nor yet feed the swine,
But sit on a cushion and sew a fine seam,
And feast upon strawberries, sugar and cream.
-- James Whitcomb Riley

I first heard this poem in our Richard Scarry's Best Mother Goose Ever book. In that book it was "Pussycat Pussycat" and the picture was of a pretty little cat in a purple dress sitting on a red cushion, sewing while her strawberries and cream sat on the table. Opposite, there is the husband cat surrounded by stacks of dishes, up to his elbows in soapy water. I thought it was a description of paradise, and it's still an ideal I aspire to. Occasionally I am able to do that for a little while, and it's just wonderful.

As I was looking for this poem online, I found that it was not an anonymous nursery rhyme, nor was it just four lines long. I like the structure of the poem -- with one line of the original stanza beginning each of the others. I also like reading about how much the guy adores her (and consider myself pretty darn lucky to have found somebody who loves me like that)

Friday, May 11, 2007

Ode On A Grecian Urn by John Keats

Ode On A Grecian Urn

Thou still unravish'd bride of quietness,
Thou foster-child of silence and slow time,
Sylvan historian, who canst thus express
A flowery tale more sweetly than our rhyme:
What leaf-fring'd legend haunts about thy shape
Of deities or mortals, or of both,
In Tempe or the dales of Arcady?
What men or gods are these? What maidens loth?
What mad pursuit? What struggle to escape?
What pipes and timbrels? What wild ecstasy?

Heard melodies are sweet, but those unheard
Are sweeter; therefore, ye soft pipes, play on;
Not to the sensual ear, but, more endear'd,
Pipe to the spirit ditties of no tone:
Fair youth, beneath the trees, thou canst not leave
Thy song, nor ever can those trees be bare;
Bold Lover, never, never canst thou kiss,
Though winning near the goal yet, do not grieve;
She cannot fade, though thou hast not thy bliss,
For ever wilt thou love, and she be fair!

Ah, happy, happy boughs! that cannot shed
Your leaves, nor ever bid the Spring adieu;
And, happy melodist, unwearied,
For ever piping songs for ever new;
More happy love! more happy, happy love!
For ever warm and still to be enjoy'd,
For ever panting, and for ever young;
All breathing human passion far above,
That leaves a heart high-sorrowful and cloy'd,
A burning forehead, and a parching tongue.

Who are these coming to the sacrifice?
To what green altar, O mysterious priest,
Lead'st thou that heifer lowing at the skies,
And all her silken flanks with garlands drest?
What little town by river or sea shore,
Or mountain-built with peaceful citadel,
Is emptied of this folk, this pious morn?
And, little town, thy streets for evermore
Will silent be; and not a soul to tell
Why thou art desolate, can e'er return.

O Attic shape! Fair attitude! with brede
Of marble men and maidens overwrought,
With forest branches and the trodden weed;
Thou, silent form, dost tease us out of thought
As doth eternity: Cold Pastoral!
When old age shall this generation waste,
Thou shalt remain, in midst of other woe
Than ours, a friend to man, to whom thou say'st,
"Beauty is truth, truth beauty,--that is all
Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know."
-- John Keats

As I was looking around at poetry sites, I clicked on this poem because of the scene in The Music Man where the Ladies' Dance Committee is doing their interpretation of "ONE GRECIAN URN...TWO GRECIAN URNS...AND NOW A FOUNTAIN...TRICKLE TRICKLE TRICKLE" (Written in all caps because it's Eulalie Mackechnie Shinn saying it, and she speaks in ALL CAPS).

I was pleasantly surprised to find what a nice poem it is. It took me back to that great Greek and Roman Mythology class I took at BYU. It really was a great class without exaggeration. Professor Duckwitz had a pleasant foreign accent-- though not too foreign to be hard to understand -- and class consisted of him telling us stories and showing us slides of Greek art. He gave us all sorts of tools to use in identifying who the person is on a vase. There's Odysseus in his travelling hat, Hermes with his Caduceus and winged shoes (when somebody asked where Hermes got his winged shoes, he would always say, "Florsheims"), Herakles with his Lion skin, Athena with her helmet, etc... Another good method of telling who's who is to look for writing on the vase--they often write the person's name above their head. We read Ovid's Metamorphoses (one of the few required reading books I still have on my shelf) and The Odyssey. If nothing else, taking this class made going to the art museum make so much more sense -- almost everybody painted scenes from mythology, and if I don't recognize it right off, the title of the painting will clue me in. I'd recommend this class to anyone with the slightest interest in the subject.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

A Sea Song by Allan Cunningham

A Sea Song

A wet sheet and a flowing sea,
A wind that follows fast
And fills the white and rustling sail
And bends the gallant mast;
And bends the gallant mast, my boys,
While like the eagle free
Away the good ship flies, and leaves
Old England on the lee.

O for a soft and gentle wind!
I heard a fair one cry;
But give to me the snoring breeze
And white waves heaving high;
And white waves heaving high, my lads,
The good ship tight and free—
The world of waters is our home,
And merry men are we.

There’s tempest in yon horne´d moon,
And lightning in yon cloud;
But hark the music, mariners!
The wind is piping loud;
The wind is piping loud, my boys,
The lightning flashes free—
While the hollow oak our palace is,
Our heritage the sea.
--Allan Cunningham

I found this poem two or three years ago in a book I got for a dime at a library book sale. I liked the picture of a ship on the dust jacket, and intended to cut it out and stick it to one of the side panels of my loft bed where I had lots of other pictures of ships (my pride and joy being a very large version of this one that I got from a store in New Zealand). Anyway, after I cannibalized the cover, I looked inside the book. Nothing really stood out except this poem, which I also cut out and attached to my bed.

I reminds me of how in the Aubrey-Maturin books, Jack loves to drive the ship before a gale. The words Cunningham chooses really give the sense of the exhilaration of the wind singing in the rigging and the waves racing along the side. I want to go sailing.

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Sonnet 116 by William Shakespeare

Sonnet 116

Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Admit impediments. Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove:
O no! it is an ever-fixed mark
That looks on tempests and is never shaken;
It is the star to every wandering bark,
Whose worth's unknown, although his height be taken.
Love's not Time's fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
Within his bending sickle's compass come:
Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
But bears it out even to the edge of doom.
If this be error and upon me proved,
I never writ, nor no man ever loved.
--William Shakespeare

I mostly associate this poem with Sense and Sensibility Though I can't find any mention of it in the book, so it must have been one of the things that earned Emma Thompson her Best Adapted Screenplay Oscar.

I'm not sure I entirely agree with the sentiment, though. Yes, true love should be unconditional, and should last through time and adversity...but at the same time, there are things that are too much to bear, and with enough time and distance, hearts can fall out of love, or heal from a hurt without having to be accused of never really loving in the first place.

Peter and I watched a bit of this movie the other day. We had just watched House, and Peter was looking him up on IMDb. We noticed that he had been in the Blackadder series with Rowan Atkinson, and had fun looking at goofy images of him from that time. Then Peter saw that he was Mr.Palmer in Sense and Sensibility. He asked me who that was, and I told him he's somebody's husband, who's always looking annoyed behind a newspaper. He wanted to hear him speaking with an English accent, so I fast forwarded to where they're all coming home from London, and Mrs. Palmer says "Just think, we can see his despicable house from the top of our hill. I shall have Gardener plant a tall hedge." and Mr. Palmer looks up from his newspaper and grumpily says, "You will do nothing of the sort!" Then, of course, we had to fast forward to the end, to see Edward return and explain himself -- Oh...It's just too romantic!

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

There Was a Young Lady From Niger by William Cosmo Monkhouse

There Was a Young Lady From Niger

There was a young lady from Niger,
Who smiled as she rode on a tiger.
They came back from the ride
With the lady inside,
And the smile on the face of the tiger.
--William Cosmo Monkhouse

I like limericks. Not so much Lear's nonsense rhymes, but limericks that are really composed so that the last line really completes the story and gives you a little laugh. The one I have posted here is often listed as "Anonymous" which I think, in most cases, is just shorthand for "I was too lazy to figure out who the real author is, so I'll pretend like nobody wrote it." I found a site that attributed it to William Cosmo Monkhouse, and it certainly fit with the other limericks they had under his name. I read some of his other poetry too, and found that I really liked it. It's often melancholy, but it's obvious from his religious poems that he truly believed in Christ. You'll probably see more from him here in time.

Monday, May 7, 2007

Paul Revere's Ride by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Paul Revere's Ride

Listen my children and you shall hear
Of the midnight ride of Paul Revere,
On the eighteenth of April, in Seventy-five;
Hardly a man is now alive
Who remembers that famous day and year.
He said to his friend, "If the British march
By land or sea from the town to-night,
Hang a lantern aloft in the belfry arch
Of the North Church tower as a signal light,--
One if by land, and two if by sea;
And I on the opposite shore will be,
Ready to ride and spread the alarm
Through every Middlesex village and farm,
For the country folk to be up and to arm."

Then he said "Good-night!" and with muffled oar
Silently rowed to the Charlestown shore,
Just as the moon rose over the bay,
Where swinging wide at her moorings lay
The Somerset, British man-of-war;
A phantom ship, with each mast and spar
Across the moon like a prison bar,
And a huge black hulk, that was magnified
By its own reflection in the tide.

Meanwhile, his friend through alley and street
Wanders and watches, with eager ears,
Till in the silence around him he hears
The muster of men at the barrack door,
The sound of arms, and the tramp of feet,
And the measured tread of the grenadiers,
Marching down to their boats on the shore.

Then he climbed the tower of the Old North Church,
By the wooden stairs, with stealthy tread,
To the belfry chamber overhead,
And startled the pigeons from their perch
On the sombre rafters, that round him made
Masses and moving shapes of shade,--
By the trembling ladder, steep and tall,
To the highest window in the wall,
Where he paused to listen and look down
A moment on the roofs of the town
And the moonlight flowing over all.

Beneath, in the churchyard, lay the dead,
In their night encampment on the hill,
Wrapped in silence so deep and still
That he could hear, like a sentinel's tread,
The watchful night-wind, as it went
Creeping along from tent to tent,
And seeming to whisper, "All is well!"
A moment only he feels the spell
Of the place and the hour, and the secret dread
Of the lonely belfry and the dead;
For suddenly all his thoughts are bent
On a shadowy something far away,
Where the river widens to meet the bay,--
A line of black that bends and floats
On the rising tide like a bridge of boats.

Meanwhile, impatient to mount and ride,
Booted and spurred, with a heavy stride
On the opposite shore walked Paul Revere.
Now he patted his horse's side,
Now he gazed at the landscape far and near,
Then, impetuous, stamped the earth,
And turned and tightened his saddle girth;
But mostly he watched with eager search
The belfry tower of the Old North Church,
As it rose above the graves on the hill,
Lonely and spectral and sombre and still.
And lo! as he looks, on the belfry's height
A glimmer, and then a gleam of light!
He springs to the saddle, the bridle he turns,
But lingers and gazes, till full on his sight
A second lamp in the belfry burns.

A hurry of hoofs in a village street,
A shape in the moonlight, a bulk in the dark,
And beneath, from the pebbles, in passing, a spark
Struck out by a steed flying fearless and fleet;
That was all! And yet, through the gloom and the light,
The fate of a nation was riding that night;
And the spark struck out by that steed, in his flight,
Kindled the land into flame with its heat.
He has left the village and mounted the steep,
And beneath him, tranquil and broad and deep,
Is the Mystic, meeting the ocean tides;
And under the alders that skirt its edge,
Now soft on the sand, now loud on the ledge,
Is heard the tramp of his steed as he rides.

It was twelve by the village clock
When he crossed the bridge into Medford town.
He heard the crowing of the cock,
And the barking of the farmer's dog,
And felt the damp of the river fog,
That rises after the sun goes down.

It was one by the village clock,
When he galloped into Lexington.
He saw the gilded weathercock
Swim in the moonlight as he passed,
And the meeting-house windows, black and bare,
Gaze at him with a spectral glare,
As if they already stood aghast
At the bloody work they would look upon.

It was two by the village clock,
When he came to the bridge in Concord town.
He heard the bleating of the flock,
And the twitter of birds among the trees,
And felt the breath of the morning breeze
Blowing over the meadow brown.
And one was safe and asleep in his bed
Who at the bridge would be first to fall,
Who that day would be lying dead,
Pierced by a British musket ball.

You know the rest. In the books you have read
How the British Regulars fired and fled,---
How the farmers gave them ball for ball,
From behind each fence and farmyard wall,
Chasing the redcoats down the lane,
Then crossing the fields to emerge again
Under the trees at the turn of the road,
And only pausing to fire and load.

So through the night rode Paul Revere;
And so through the night went his cry of alarm
To every Middlesex village and farm,---
A cry of defiance, and not of fear,
A voice in the darkness, a knock at the door,
And a word that shall echo for evermore!
For, borne on the night-wind of the Past,
Through all our history, to the last,
In the hour of darkness and peril and need,
The people will waken and listen to hear
The hurrying hoof-beats of that steed,
And the midnight message of Paul Revere.
--Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

One year, while I was in High School, I got a summer job as director of one of the plays for Sunshine Summer Theater (the little kids version of Sandstone - our community summer theater group for High Schoolers). I believe it was the same year that Sandstone did Bye Bye Birdie, because the kids did Put on a Happy Face for their big musical number. At any rate, I had a small group of kids doing a play about an old one room schoolhouse that gets taken over by bank robbers. The clever schoolmarm outwits the robbers by correcting their grammar, and putting the flag up upside down outside so somebody can see that they're in distress and send the sheriff. One of the things that the kids in the play do is recite the opening lines of Paul Revere's Ride.

I think we had a full hour a day for rehearsals, and with a ten minute play, simply going over lines and blocking gets old pretty fast. Some of the kids thought they would have a contest and see who could memorize the most lines of this poem. They got pretty far, as I recall. We also did the general improvisation and diction exercises so common to drama classes, of course, and since we were at a school (Powers, I think), we had dictionaries in the classrooms, and I invented the Dictionary Game.

Now I know that Steve and Heather like to play Prognostication with dictionaries, but my game works differently. Every kid gets their own dictionary. They can flip around till they find a word they don't think I'll know. Then they raise their hand. I go around to raised hands and define their words. If they stump me, they get a prize. In large groups, they have to write out the definition if I get it right, just to slow things down so I can get to everybody. I do outlaw certain words--like scientific names of plants and animals, and proper names of people and places--as long as I can figure out which forbidden category it goes in, I don't have to be more specific. I have since used this game successfully in many classrooms where I'm substitute teaching and run out of prepared material. Since the dictionaries in the classroom are generally made for elementary students, I don't miss many words

Sunday, May 6, 2007

Our Birth is but a Sleep and a Forgetting by William Wordsworth

Our Birth is but a Sleep and a Forgetting

Our birth is but a sleep and a forgetting:
The Soul that rises with us, our life's Star,
Hath had elsewhere its setting,
And cometh from afar:
Not in entire forgetfulness,
And not in utter nakedness,
But trailing clouds of glory do we come
From God, who is our home:
Heaven lies about us in our infancy!
Shades of the prison-house begin to close
Upon the growing Boy,
But He beholds the light, and whence it flows,
He sees it in his joy;
The Youth, who daily farther from the east
Must travel, still is Nature's Priest,
And by the vision splendid
Is on his way attended;
At length the Man perceives it die away,
And fade into the light of common day.
--William Wordsworth

Some of you already know why I'm posting this poem today. Others can look around at some new changes on the blog page and see if you can take a guess! I'm really excited, and hope that everything goes well this time. By the way, if you're wondering, we did decide to buy the mobile home! What an exciting week!!!!!

As for the poem itself, I think it is a beautiful expression of the truths that the spirit naturally knows -- even when they're not being taught as doctrine

Saturday, May 5, 2007

Home You're Where It's Warm Inside by Jack Prelutsky

Home You're Where It's Warm Inside

Home! You are a special place;
You're where I wake and wash my face,
Brush my teeth and comb my hair,
Change my socks and underwear,
Clean my ears and blow my nose,
Try on all my parent's clothes.

Home! You're where it's warm inside,
Where my tears are gently dried,
Where I'm comforted and fed
Where I'm forced to go to bed,
Where there's always love to spare;
Home! I'm glad that you are there.
--Jack Prelutsky

Today Peter and I are going down to Torrance to see if we want to put down money on a mobile home. It's brand new, with 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, a laundry room, a big kitchen, dining area and living room. It's in a nice park with two pools, and about 250 mobile homes. They're modernizing the park, by giving rent breaks to brand new homes so it costs less to get a new one than an old. We're really excited about this! If you want to see where it is, you can Google 108 C St, in Torrance, CA. The one we want is 3rd from the end on the west side of the street. Wish us luck today--if we decide to move forward, we could start moving in as little as 10 days.

Friday, May 4, 2007

Daffodils by William Wordsworth


I wandered lonely as a Cloud
That floats on high o'er Vales and Hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.

Continuous as the stars that shine
And twinkle on the milky way,
They stretched in never-ending line
Along the margin of a bay:
Ten thousand saw I at a glance,
Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.

The waves beside them danced, but they
Out-did the sparkling waves in glee:-
A poet could not but be gay
In such a jocund company:
I gazed-and gazed-but little thought
What wealth the show to me had brought:

For oft when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude,
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the Daffodils.
--William Wordsworth

I first heard this poem in one of my classes in college. I believe that it was the "Drama in Education" class that also included Puppetry and Storytelling. That class, along with the "Music in Education" "Rhythm and Dance" and "Children's Literature" was one of the most valuable classes I took at BYU based on how much I've used the information since. It was in that class that I first told the story of Prince Ivan and the Frog Princess, and learned some good techniques for keeping an audience. I also made a set of Peter and the Wolf puppets, and my cute little Hedgehog puppet. This particular assignment was to pick a poem, and read it to the class using techniques of Oral Interpretation. Somebody else picked this poem, and it stuck with me. I put the last stanza on one of the stickies that made my desktop wallpaper at the time.

Thursday, May 3, 2007

Wynken, Blynken, and Nod by Eugene Field

Wynken, Blynken, and Nod

Wynken, Blynken, and Nod one night
Sailed off in a wooden shoe---
Sailed on a river of crystal light,
Into a sea of dew.

"Where are you going, and what do you wish?"
The old moon asked the three.
"We have come to fish for the herring fish
That live in this beautiful sea;
Nets of silver and gold have we!"
Said Wynken, Blynken, and Nod.

The old moon laughed and sang a song,
As they rocked in the wooden shoe,
And the wind that sped them all night long
Ruffled the waves of dew.

The little stars were the herring fish
That lived in that beautiful sea---
"Now cast your nets wherever you wish---
Never afeard are we";
So cried the stars to the fishermen three:
Wynken, Blynken, and Nod.

All night long their nets they threw
To the stars in the twinkling foam---
Then down from the skies came the wooden shoe,
Bringing the fishermen home;

'T was all so pretty a sail it seemed
As if it could not be,
And some folks thought 't was a dream they 'd dreamed
Of sailing that beautiful sea---
But I shall name you the fishermen three:
Wynken, Blynken, and Nod.

Wynken and Blynken are two little eyes,
And Nod is a little head,
And the wooden shoe that sailed the skies
Is a wee one's trundle-bed.

So shut your eyes while mother sings
Of wonderful sights that be,
And you shall see the beautiful things
As you rock in the misty sea,
Where the old shoe rocked the fishermen three:
Wynken, Blynken, and Nod.
-- Eugene Field

This poem and I have a very long history. Mom saved pieces of wrapping paper from baby gifts that have the poem on them. I grew up reading it in my Baby Book. Roger Whittaker sang it on his wonderful children's album. And now that I have a day of the week dedicated to poems about the sea and sailing, it's only appropriate that it be the first poem. My favorite copy of this poem is a little board book I have, illustrated by Sheila Beckett.

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

I Loved You by Alexander Sergeyevich Pushkin

I Loved You

Я вас любил: любовь еще, быть может
В душе моей угасла не совсем;
Но пусть она вас больше не тревожит;
Я не хочу печалить вас ничем.

Я вас любил безмолвно, безнадежно,
То робостью, то ревностью томим;
Я вас любил так искренно, так нежно,
Как дай вам бог любимой быть другим.
--Александр Сергеевич Пушкин

I loved you -- and love it may yet be
Deep in my soul. It might still smoulder there.
But do not trouble your dear heart for me
I would not want to make you shed a tear

I loved you -- Helplessly Hopelessly
Timidity and longing plagued my mind
I loved you so tenderly so truly
God grant that you may such another find
--Alexander Sergeyevich Pushkin

This is a poem that I memorized in Russian for a class in college. Pushkin, who wrote it, is credited with legitimizing the Russian language as a literary tongue. The Russians I lived with were very impressed that I knew a Pushkin poem by heart. The Russians love him so much, that one TV station stops people on the street and has them recite their favorite bit of Pushkin, then plays the clips during commercial breaks. You can hear it in the original Russian here. It's short, and I think it's worth hearing how he used rhythm, rhyme, and similar word structure within the lines of the poem.

The translation is my own. I had translations similar to the one on the above linked page, but they weer word-for-word translations, and didn't try to imitate the structure he used. I worked very hard to get this just right, and think I did a pretty good job getting the meaning in as well.

I am very fond of Pushkin's work. He was one of the historical people I could really relate to in Russia (along with Peter the Great, and Lomonosov). I went to his house (lovingly preserved since the moment of his death), bought a copy of his Gift to the Children of Russia on the Defeat of Napoleon (a set of Alphabet cards with rhymes either praising all things Russian or making fun of all things French), read his fairy tales (like the Golden Fish), listened to his poems on TV (there was even one comedy sketch that showed how all his major stories, including his own life end in fatal duels), and one of my few delights in Moscow was the Alexander Gardens (where they have statues and fountains representing his works).

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Squirrels by Jack Prelutsky


Squirrels, often found in parks,
Have tails, resembling question marks.
It's just coincidental, though:
There's little squirrels care to know.
--Jack Prelutsky

For years I thought this poem was by Ogden Nash because he wrote a lot of short poems about animals. I was only a little surprised when I found out that it was by Jack Prelutsky. He's one of my favorite children's poets along with Ogden Nash, Shel Silverstein, and Robert Louis Stevenson. I also was sad to notice that I had memorized it wrong -- he has 'resembling' 'little' and 'care' where I had 'shaped like' 'nothing' and 'want'.

I had an interesting experience last night related to this project. I started collecting poems last week in order to make a book of poetry to give to the little(second grade) girl I tutor on our last session at the end of May. We've discovered that she loves poetry, especially when it's got a tune (like half the nursery rhymes and a few of RL Stevenson's). She really seems to like the rhythm and rhyme, and will read with about twice the fluency when reading poetry -- she sounds out hard words more quickly, and doesn't seem to mind as much about words she doesn't understand.

Anyway, last night, we were wrapping up our session, and had time for one more story, so she pulled out A Child's Garden of Verses which we had read before, and flipped to Bed in Summer, and asked me to read it to her -- just so she could listen to her favorite poem. That sort of thing makes me happy. (by the way, I've completed my book, including illustrations -- I printed it out, and put each poem in the page of a photo album.)