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  • Archive for the 'Poetry' Category

    New! – Your Chicagoboyz Annual Labor Day Haiku Sale

    Posted by Jonathan on 1st September 2014 (All posts by )

    Time to say the words
    That all women yearn to hear:
    Make me a sandwich

    —-

    Wasted three-fifty
    On crummy Chinese loofa
    Caveat emptor

    —-

    New taste sensation!
    Herring poached in Mountain Dew
    Hey, where you going?

    —-

    Learned something today
    Schools don’t teach cursive writing
    Man do I feel old

    —-

    My dog has no nose
    Where have we heard this before?
    Conspiracy talk

    —-

    Waiting-room TV
    Like Harrison Bergeron
    Can’t think for the noise

    —-

    The dreaded message:
    “Windows can’t stop your device”
    Time to pull the plug

    —-

    (Feel free to add your contributions in the comments.)

    Posted in Poetry | 4 Comments »

    New! – Your Bi-Monthly Haiku of the Day

    Posted by Jonathan on 9th August 2014 (All posts by )

     
    Cramer’s hot stock pick
    Getting blasted this morning
    Fools and their money

    —-

    The Prius driver
    Accelerating slowly
    Watching mileage gauge

    —-

    Amazon Prime trial
    Expires in a couple days
    Must buy lots of stuff

    —-

    Internet hygiene:
    Pruning the Israel haters
    From your Twitter feed
     
     
     
     
     
     
    (Feel free to make your own contribution in the comments.)

    Posted in Poetry | 7 Comments »

    “How a Hamas Anthem Became a Hit in Israel”

    Posted by Jonathan on 8th August 2014 (All posts by )

    Yoram Hazony:

    A few days ago, I called a young relative who is serving in the Israeli air force and asked him: “Do you know that song—“Kum, Aseh Piguim”?
     
    Without missing a beat, he said: “You mean that song that’s a hit all over Israel? The song that all my friends are singing all the time?”
     
    “Yeah,” I said. “That song. I wanted to know if you can explain to me why they are singing it?”
     
    What I actually meant to ask was: Can you please explain to me why all the young people in Israel are singing a song entitled “Up, Do Terror Attacks”—a song recorded and released by Hamas in Gaza, which repeatedly calls for killing or expelling all the Jews from of Israel? But I didn’t have to say all that. He knew why I was asking.
     
    “It’s because it makes us feel good,” he replied.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Current Events, Israel, Middle East, Poetry, Rhetoric, Terrorism, Video, War and Peace | 2 Comments »

    Shall It Be Sustained?

    Posted by David Foster on 4th July 2014 (All posts by )

    For this Fourth of July,  Cassandra has an excellent post: Independence in an Age of Cynicism.  I recommend the entire post and all the links; read especially the third linked essay, which Cass wrote in 2008:  Why I Am Patriotic: a Love Letter to America.

    For the last several years, on July 4th I’ve posted an excerpt from Stephen Vincent Benet’s poem Listen to the People.  The title I’ve used for these posts prior to 2013 was It Shall Be Sustained, which is from the last line of Benet’s poem.

    Narrator:

    This is Independence Day,
    Fourth of July, the day we mean to keep,
    Whatever happens and whatever falls
    Out of a sky grown strange;
    This is firecracker day for sunburnt kids,
    The day of the parade,
    Slambanging down the street.
    Listen to the parade!
    There’s J. K. Burney’s float,
    Red-white-and-blue crepe-paper on the wheels,
    The Fire Department and the local Grange,
    There are the pretty girls with their hair curled
    Who represent the Thirteen Colonies,
    The Spirit of East Greenwich, Betsy Ross,
    Democracy, or just some pretty girls.
    There are the veterans and the Legion Post
    (Their feet are going to hurt when they get home),
    The band, the flag, the band, the usual crowd,
    Good-humored, watching, hot,
    Silent a second as the flag goes by,
    Kidding the local cop and eating popsicles,
    Jack Brown and Rosie Shapiro and Dan Shay,
    Paul Bunchick and the Greek who runs the Greek’s,
    The black-eyed children out of Sicily,
    The girls who giggle and the boys who push,
    All of them there and all of them a nation.
    And, afterwards,
    There’ll be ice-cream and fireworks and a speech
    By somebody the Honorable Who,
    The lovers will pair off in the kind dark
    And Tessie Jones, our honor-graduate,
    Will read the declaration.
    That’s how it is. It’s always been that way.
    That’s our Fourth of July, through war and peace,
    That’s our fourth of July.

    And a lean farmer on a stony farm
    Came home from mowing, buttoned up his shirt
    And walked ten miles to town.
    Musket in hand.
    He didn’t know the sky was falling down
    And, it may be, he didn’t know so much.
    But people oughtn’t to be pushed around
    By kings or any such.
    A workman in the city dropped his tools.
    An ordinary, small-town kind of man
    Found himself standing in the April sun,
    One of a ragged line
    Against the skilled professionals of war,
    The matchless infantry who could not fail,
    Not for the profit, not to conquer worlds,
    Not for the pomp or the heroic tale
    But first, and principally, since he was sore.
    They could do things in quite a lot of places.
    They shouldn’t do them here, in Lexington.

    He looked around and saw his neighbors’ faces

    The poem is very long, and is worth reading in full. The full text was published in Life Magazine; it is online here. The Life text may be a little difficult to read; I posted an excerpt which is considerably longer than the above here.

    Benet’s poem ends with these words:

    We made it and we make it and it’s ours
    We shall maintain it. It shall be sustained

    But shall it?

    Posted in Civil Liberties, Civil Society, History, Holidays, Poetry, Political Philosophy, USA | 3 Comments »

    New! – Your Brave New World Haikus

    Posted by Jonathan on 2nd May 2014 (All posts by )

    Local elections
    Lots of bad referenda
    Of course they all pass

    —-

    Ammo at Walmart
    Queueing up, three box limit
    Things were better once

    —-

    NSA listens
    Who the hell knows what they’ve got
    We’re all wondering

    —-

    Your student loan debt
    Makes you unmarriageable
    Might as well be gay

    Posted in Poetry, That's NOT Funny | 6 Comments »

    How Hillary Clinton & Barack Obama & Crew Want You to Live Your Life…

    Posted by David Foster on 21st February 2014 (All posts by )

    …as prefigured in a poem by W H Auden:

    He was found by the Bureau of Statistics to be
    One against whom there was no official complaint,
    And all the reports of his conduct agree
    That, in the modern sense of the old-fashioned word, he was a saint,
    For in everything he did he served the Greater Community.
    Except for the war till the day he retired
    He worked in a factory and never got fired,
    But satisfied his employers, Fudge Motors Inc.
    Yet he wasn’t a scab or odd in his views,
    For his union reports that he paid his dues,
    (Our report of his union shows it was sound)
    And our Social Psychology workers found
    That he was popular with his mates and liked a drink.
    The Press are convinced that he bought a paper every day,
    And that his reactions to advertisements were normal in every way.
    Policies taken out in his name prove that he was fully insured,
    And his Health-card shows that he was once in hospital but left it cured.
    Both Producers Research and High–Grade Living declare
    He was fully sensible to the advantages of the Installment Plan
    And had everything necessary to the Modern Man,
    A gramophone, a radio, a car and a frigidaire.
    Our researchers into Public Opinion are content
    That he held the proper opinions for the time of the year;
    When there was peace he was for peace; when there was war he went.
    He was married and added five children to the population,
    which our Eugenist says was the right number for a parent of his generation,
    And our teachers report he never interfered with their education.
    Was he free? Was he happy? The question is absurd:
    Had anything been wrong, we should certainly have heard. 

     The Unknown Citizen, W H Auden, 1940

    Posted in Arts & Letters, Britain, Poetry, Political Philosophy, Politics, USA | 2 Comments »

    A Truly Diabolical Monetary Policy (rerun)

    Posted by David Foster on 16th December 2013 (All posts by )

    (The leadership transition at the Fed inspires me to rerun this post, which initially appeared in December 2008)

    In Goethe’s Faust, Mephistopheles desires the introduction of paper money. At his instigation, courtiers approach the emperor at a masked ball and get him to sign the following document:

    To all it may Concern upon Our Earth
    This paper is a thousand guilders worth
    There lies, sure warrant of it and full measure
    Beneath Our earth a wealth of buried treasure
    As for this wealth, the means are now in train
    To raise it and redeem the scrip again

    In the bright sunlight of morning, the now-sober emperor observes hundreds of pieces of paper, each bearing his signature and claiming to be equivalent in value to gold, and demands to know what is being done to apprehend the counterfeiters.

    Treasurer: Recall–Your own self signed it at the time,
    Only last night. You stood in Great Pan’s mask
    And with the Chancellor we approach to ask:
    “Allow yourself high festive joy and nourish
    The common weal with but a pen’s brief flourish.”
    You signed: that night by men of a thousand arts
    The thing was multiplied a thousand parts
    So that like blessing should all accrue
    We stamped up all the lower series too
    Tens, Thirties, Fifties, Hundreds did we edit
    The good it did folk, you would hardly credit.
    Your city, else half molded in stagnation
    Now teems revived in prosperous elation!
    Although your name has long been widely blessed
    It’s not been spelt with such fond interest
    The alphabet has now been proved redundanct
    In this sign everyone finds grace abundant

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Economics & Finance, Poetry | 2 Comments »

    New! – Your Midweek Apropos of Nothing Haikus

    Posted by Jonathan on 14th August 2013 (All posts by )

    Stupid green features
    Mindlessly pause computer
    Just when you need it

    —-

    Had a profound thought
    But forgot to write it down
    Now it’s gone, dammit

    —-

    They’re modern women
    And yet they still expect you
    To pick up the check

    —-

    Feeling like a cork
    Cast adrift on life’s ocean
    Age does that to you

    —-

    It’s an absurd world
    Your hovercraft full of eels
    My dog with no nose

    Posted in Humor, Poetry | 8 Comments »

    New! – Your Ironic Middle-Aged Haikus of the Day

    Posted by Jonathan on 31st July 2013 (All posts by )

    Returned rental car
    They tried to charge extra hours
    Not what they quoted

    —-

    Your doctor’s office
    Miscoded the procedure
    Insurance won’t pay

    —-

    Modern vampire tales
    Even square beta guys know
    It’s porn for teen girls

    —-

    Once upon a time
    We laughed at denture glue ads
    Sadly, no longer

    Posted in Humor, Poetry | 14 Comments »

    Shall It Be Sustained?

    Posted by David Foster on 4th July 2013 (All posts by )

    For the last several years, on July 4th I’ve posted an excerpt from Stephen Vincent Benet’s poem Listen to the People. On July 7, 1941–five months before Pearl Harbor–this poem was read over nationwide radio. The title I’ve previously used for these posts is It Shall Be Sustained, which is from the last line of Benet’s poem.

    Narrator:

    This is Independence Day,
    Fourth of July, the day we mean to keep,
    Whatever happens and whatever falls
    Out of a sky grown strange;
    This is firecracker day for sunburnt kids,
    The day of the parade,
    Slambanging down the street.
    Listen to the parade!
    There’s J. K. Burney’s float,
    Red-white-and-blue crepe-paper on the wheels,
    The Fire Department and the local Grange,
    There are the pretty girls with their hair curled
    Who represent the Thirteen Colonies,
    The Spirit of East Greenwich, Betsy Ross,
    Democracy, or just some pretty girls.
    There are the veterans and the Legion Post
    (Their feet are going to hurt when they get home),
    The band, the flag, the band, the usual crowd,
    Good-humored, watching, hot,
    Silent a second as the flag goes by,
    Kidding the local cop and eating popsicles,
    Jack Brown and Rosie Shapiro and Dan Shay,
    Paul Bunchick and the Greek who runs the Greek’s,
    The black-eyed children out of Sicily,
    The girls who giggle and the boys who push,
    All of them there and all of them a nation.
    And, afterwards,
    There’ll be ice-cream and fireworks and a speech
    By somebody the Honorable Who,
    The lovers will pair off in the kind dark
    And Tessie Jones, our honor-graduate,
    Will read the declaration.
    That’s how it is. It’s always been that way.
    That’s our Fourth of July, through war and peace,
    That’s our fourth of July.

    And a lean farmer on a stony farm
    Came home from mowing, buttoned up his shirt
    And walked ten miles to town.
    Musket in hand.
    He didn’t know the sky was falling down
    And, it may be, he didn’t know so much.
    But people oughtn’t to be pushed around
    By kings or any such.
    A workman in the city dropped his tools.
    An ordinary, small-town kind of man
    Found himself standing in the April sun,
    One of a ragged line
    Against the skilled professionals of war,
    The matchless infantry who could not fail,
    Not for the profit, not to conquer worlds,
    Not for the pomp or the heroic tale
    But first, and principally, since he was sore.
    They could do things in quite a lot of places.
    They shouldn’t do them here, in Lexington.

    He looked around and saw his neighbors’ faces

    The poem is very long, and is worth reading in full. The full text was published in Life Magazine; it is online here. The Life text may be a little difficult to read; I posted an excerpt which is considerably longer than the above here.

    Benet’s poem ends with these words:

    We made it and we make it and it’s ours
    We shall maintain it. It shall be sustained

    But shall it?

    Posted in Civil Liberties, Civil Society, History, Holidays, Poetry, Political Philosophy, Politics, USA | 3 Comments »

    Kipling: McAndrew’s Hymn

    Posted by David Foster on 19th May 2013 (All posts by )

    Lord, Thou hast made this world below the shadow of a dream, 
    An’, taught by time, I tak’ it so – exceptin’ always Steam. 
    From coupler-flange to spindle-guide I see Thy Hand, O God -
    Predestination in the stride o’ yon connectin’-rod. 
    John Calvin might ha’ forged the same – enorrmous, certain, slow -
    Ay, wrought it in the furnace-flame – my “Institutio.” 
    I cannot get my sleep to-night; old bones are hard to please;
    I’ll stand the middle watch up here – alone wi’ God an’ these 
    My engines, after ninety days o’ race an’ rack an’ strain 
    Through all the seas of all Thy world, slam-bangin’ home again. 
    Slam-bang too much – they knock a wee – the crosshead-gibs are loose;
    But thirty thousand mile o’ sea has gied them fair excuse….
    Fine, clear an’ dark – a full-draught breeze, wi’ Ushant out o’ sight, 
    An’ Ferguson relievin’ Hay. Old girl, ye’ll walk to-night! 
    His wife’s at Plymouth…. Seventy-One-Two-Three since he began - 
    Three turns for Mistress Ferguson…. an’ who’s to blame the man?
    There’s none at any port for me, by drivin’ fast or slow,
    Since Elsie Campbell went to Thee, Lord, thirty years ago. 
    (The year the ‘Sarah Sands’ was burned. Oh roads we used to tread, 
    Fra’ Maryhill to Pollokshaws – fra’ Govan to Parkhead!) 
    Not but they’re ceevil on the Board. Ye’ll hear Sir Kenneth say: 
    “Good morrn, McAndrew! Back again? An’ how’s your bilge to-day?”
    Miscallin’ technicalities but handin’ me my chair 
    To drink Madeira wi’ three Earls – the auld Fleet Engineer,
    That started as a boiler-whelp – when steam and he were low. 
    I mind the time we used to serve a broken pipe wi’ tow. 

    The whole poem is here.

    Posted in Poetry, Tech | 6 Comments »

    It’s Been One Year

    Posted by David Foster on 6th March 2013 (All posts by )

    …since we lost Neptunus Lex

    Here again are some of my favorite Lex posts, most but not all of which I linked last year at this time. All are very much worth reading.

    The captain wakes before dawn…with a feeling that all is not well with the ship

    Reading Solzhenitsyn at the US Naval Academy

    Movie vs reality. Lex, who served as executive officer of the Navy Fighter Weapons School (TOPGUN), answers some question’s from his daughter’s friend about the movie.

    Hornets, Tomcats, Scooters, Girls & Guys, Oh My!

    Lex, in a pensive mood

    Some reflections on a less-than-perfect carrier landing, a verbal interchange that probably shouldn’t have happened, and the nature of leadership

    Have you ever killed anyone? asked the massage therapist, after learning that Lex had been in the Navy.

    You’re having a dinner party and have the magical ability to invite 10 people–5 men and 5 women–from all of history. Who would you pick?

    A troubled pilot and an F-18: Maybe they saved each other.

    Colors and continuity.

    Tennyson’s Ulysses, personalized and hyperlinked. Created by Lex to mark his retirement from the Navy. Perhaps my favorite of all of Lex’s posts, and particularly appropriate today.

    Bill Brandt, a frequent Chicago Boyz commenter, has a tribute to the Captain at The Lexicans.

    Posted in Military Affairs, Morality and Philosphy, Obits, Poetry, USA, War and Peace | 11 Comments »

    New! – Your February Festival o’ Haikus

    Posted by Jonathan on 13th February 2013 (All posts by )

    Your cat video
    The new viral sensation
    You won’t make a dime

    Weird Asian Tweeters
    Hawking Hello Kitty junk
    What’s that all about?

    James Bond, poor fellow
    Grounded by an std
    Not like the old days

    Florida drivers
    Slowing to forty uphill
    Land torpedo time

    For Valentine’s Day
    Don’t be beta supplicant
    Make her buy dinner

    —-

    Please feel free to contribute your own efforts in the comments.

    Posted in Diversions, Poetry | 11 Comments »

    Happy New Year

    Posted by Michael Kennedy on 1st January 2013 (All posts by )

    I wish I were more enthusiastic but I still wish everyone a good year. The “fiscal cliff” talks have ended about as I expected. The Republicans have pretty much rolled over. The House has yet to vote and I wonder how that will go. If they all grew a spine (or some other anatomical parts) they would vote “present” and let the Democrats pass the bill by themselves. Drudge has a link to the Breitbart story.

    According to the Congressional Budget Office, the last-minute fiscal cliff deal reached by congressional leaders and President Barack Obama cuts only $15 billion in spending while increasing tax revenues by $620 billion—a 41:1 ratio of tax increases to spending cuts.

    When Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush increased taxes in return for spending cuts—cuts that never ultimately came—they did so at ratios of 1:3 and 1:2.

    “In 1982, President Reagan was promised $3 in spending cuts for every $1 in tax hikes,” Americans for Tax Reform says of those two incidents. “The tax hikes went through, but the spending cuts did not materialize. President Reagan later said that signing onto this deal was the biggest mistake of his presidency.

    “In 1990, President George H.W. Bush agreed to $2 in spending cuts for every $1 in tax hikes. The tax hikes went through, and we are still paying them today. Not a single penny of the promised spending cuts actually happened.”

    This will be another such fake compromise. However, The Gods of the Copybook Headings are coming.

    In the Carboniferous Epoch we were promised abundance for all,
    By robbing selected Peter to pay for collective Paul;
    But, though we had plenty of money, there was nothing our money could buy,
    And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said: “If you don’t work you die.”

    Then the Gods of the Market tumbled, and their smooth-tongued wizards withdrew,
    And the hearts of the meanest were humbled and began to believe it was true
    That All is not Gold that Glitters, and Two and Two make Four –
    And the Gods of the Copybook Headings limped up to explain it once more.

    It’s too long to post all of it and, for those who are unsure of the source of the title, copybooks were supplied for all school children in England, when it was still England. The copy books had traditional aphorisms on each page that children were expected to learn.

    Another expression that relates to the books was someone “blotted his copybook.” This meant making an error that was difficult to correct.

    The “copybook headings” to which the title refers were proverbs or maxims, extolling virtues such as honesty or fair dealing that were printed at the top of the pages of 19th-century British students’ special notebook pages, called copybooks. The school-children had to write them by hand repeatedly down the page.

    The work has been described as “beautifully captur[ing] the thinking of Schumpeter and Keynes.”[2] David Gilmour says that while topics of the work are the “usual subjects”, the commentary “sound better in verse”[3] while Alice Ramos says that they are “far removed from Horace’s elegant succinctness” but do “make the same point with some force.”[4]

    I don’t think I would agree that Keynes is an example of the copybook headings’ wisdom although his recommendations have been wildly distorted by politicians.

    We are coming to a period when math will be far more determinant than wishful thinking in terms of our lives.

    As it will be in the future, it was at the birth of Man –
    There are only four things certain since Social Progress began –
    That the Dog returns to his Vomit and the Sow returns to her Mire,
    And the burnt Fool’s bandaged finger goes wabbling back to the Fire –
    And that after this is accomplished, and the brave new world begins
    When all men are paid for existing and no man must pay for his sins
    As surely as Water will wet us, as surely as Fire will burn
    The Gods of the Copybook Headings with terror and slaughter return!

    Hopefully, not this year. Happy New Year.

    Posted in Anglosphere, Civil Society, Economics & Finance, Education, Human Behavior, Leftism, Morality and Philosphy, Poetry, Public Finance | 5 Comments »

    Jeff Sypeck’s Gargoyle Poems

    Posted by David Foster on 21st October 2012 (All posts by )

    …are now available in book form.

    The book includes 53 poems accompanied by black-and-white photos of the gargoyles and grotesques. These poems are really good…one of my favorites is here.

    You can get the book via the usual on-line sources, the National Cathedral Store, or direct from Jeff’s site at the first link.

    Posted in Arts & Letters, History, Poetry | 1 Comment »

    WWII Airplanes on Tour

    Posted by David Foster on 28th September 2012 (All posts by )

    The Collings Foundation Wings of Freedom Tour this year includes B-17 and B-24 bombers and also a P-51 Mustang fighter. You can visit the airplanes for a small donation and, for a substantially larger donation, you can actually take a ride!. Indeed, flight instruction is available in the P-51, which is a two-seat trainer version. If the tour is coming to an airport near you, these planes are well worth seeing. Schedule here. Collings is also looking for volunteers to help organize tour stops in their locations.

    The P-51 has an interesting history. Its design was led by James “Dutch” Kindelberger, a high-school dropout who had worked as a draftsman and taken correspondence courses before gaining admission to college. Kindleberger became president of North American Aviation in 1935. When his company was approached by the British govenment to manufacture a batch of P-40 Tomahawk fighters, Kindelberger proposed instead that a new design be built. Fortunately for the world, his proposal was accepted, and the first P-51 was flown only 6 months after the order was placed.

    The P-51 had considerably greater range than previous escort fighters. Hermann Goering told his interrogators that it was when he saw P-51s over Berlin that he knew the war was lost for Germany.

    Aerial warfare is of course not only about machines; it is also about men. Randall Jarrell, a major American poet, served in the U.S. Army Air Force during the war, and wrote many poems centering around WWII air combat.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Aviation, History, Poetry, War and Peace | 26 Comments »

    When It Was Natural for Parents to Bury Their Children

    Posted by Ginny on 15th July 2012 (All posts by )

    History gives us breadth: people in action on a grand stage, consequential ideas with great if unforeseen consequences; the demographer’s statistics and tables distil huge movements into tables we can wrap our minds around. But literature, whether consciously or unconsciously, whether reporting or reflecting, chooses a smaller stage. But it also catches that universal in a distilled moment – in the feelings of a narrator, a character. It may be anecdotal but it’s anecdotal accessible to our sympathy. How much have we changed between 1650 and 2012? In some ways, a lot. Fogel’s charts demonstrate that. In some ways, not so much. We remain human.

    Puritan poets are not everyone’s cup of tea – the plain style helps them age more slowly, but they are still the product of a culture remarkably different from ours – a frontier, theocentric if not theocratic. But a death in the family is always shattering & love for a mate is timeless. I’ll put up the Bradstreet love poems next week, but for today, let’s look at the consolations poets found in their art & their beliefs with the death of children and a spouse. (And the brevity of these children’s lives may help us better understand how large and intimate the changes Fogel describes have been.) Even if their experiences would be uncommon today, parents may still bury children and we find we understand the poet’s feelings (in hearts we recognize at once) and to a lesser degree how they thought (in minds we enter with more difficulty).
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Arts & Letters, Biography, Christianity, Lit Crit, Poetry, Religion | 11 Comments »

    Taylor – “Glory Forth May Flame”

    Posted by Ginny on 7th July 2012 (All posts by )

    Edward Taylor (c 1642 – 1729) arrived in New England in 1668, finished his education at Harvard, and in 1671 was called to the frontier town of Westfield. Westfield’s obituary pays descriptive tribute: “And what a rich blessing GOD sent us in him, almost Fifty eight Years Experience has taught us.” He was not ordained for 8 years, for “the Town being till then greatly distress’d by the Indian War [King Philip’s War]; and to his Presence & Influence it was very much owing that the Settlement did not break up. He was eminently holy in his Life, and very painful and laborious in his Work till the Infirmities of great old Age disabled him” (I xx). And then that old inducement worked: he fell in love and married. For almost sixty years, his congregation remained loyal; his wife died; he mourned, he remarried; he sired 14 children, many dying in infancy. He exchanged letters and books with his college roommate, the energetic and ambitious Samuel Sewell.

    As Grabo observes, “the social implications of Congregationalism, of the Covenant theology , and of the analogy between New Englanders and the Jewish nation provided little room for a recluse. Consequently, Taylor’s religious life forced him into the activities of his own community.” (Preface). Taylor was a Puritan who quite successfully lived in the world , but equally successfully kept a private & artistic life dedicated to his God.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Academia, Lit Crit, Poetry, Religion | Comments Off

    Shall It Be Sustained?

    Posted by David Foster on 4th July 2012 (All posts by )

    Read Roger Simon’s sobering post: The Last Forth of July.

    For the last several years, on July 4th I’ve posted an excerpt from Stephen Vincent Benet’s poem Listen to the People. On July 7, 1941–five months before Pearl Harbor–this poem was read over nationwide radio. The title I’ve previously used for these posts is It Shall Be Sustained, which is from the last line of Benet’s poem.

    Narrator:

    This is Independence Day,
    Fourth of July, the day we mean to keep,
    Whatever happens and whatever falls
    Out of a sky grown strange;
    This is firecracker day for sunburnt kids,
    The day of the parade,
    Slambanging down the street.
    Listen to the parade!
    There’s J. K. Burney’s float,
    Red-white-and-blue crepe-paper on the wheels,
    The Fire Department and the local Grange,
    There are the pretty girls with their hair curled
    Who represent the Thirteen Colonies,
    The Spirit of East Greenwich, Betsy Ross,
    Democracy, or just some pretty girls.
    There are the veterans and the Legion Post
    (Their feet are going to hurt when they get home),
    The band, the flag, the band, the usual crowd,
    Good-humored, watching, hot,
    Silent a second as the flag goes by,
    Kidding the local cop and eating popsicles,
    Jack Brown and Rosie Shapiro and Dan Shay,
    Paul Bunchick and the Greek who runs the Greek’s,
    The black-eyed children out of Sicily,
    The girls who giggle and the boys who push,
    All of them there and all of them a nation.
    And, afterwards,
    There’ll be ice-cream and fireworks and a speech
    By somebody the Honorable Who,
    The lovers will pair off in the kind dark
    And Tessie Jones, our honor-graduate,
    Will read the declaration.
    That’s how it is. It’s always been that way.
    That’s our Fourth of July, through war and peace,
    That’s our fourth of July.

    And a lean farmer on a stony farm
    Came home from mowing, buttoned up his shirt
    And walked ten miles to town.
    Musket in hand.
    He didn’t know the sky was falling down
    And, it may be, he didn’t know so much.
    But people oughtn’t to be pushed around
    By kings or any such.
    A workman in the city dropped his tools.
    An ordinary, small-town kind of man
    Found himself standing in the April sun,
    One of a ragged line
    Against the skilled professionals of war,
    The matchless infantry who could not fail,
    Not for the profit, not to conquer worlds,
    Not for the pomp or the heroic tale
    But first, and principally, since he was sore.
    They could do things in quite a lot of places.
    They shouldn’t do them here, in Lexington.

    He looked around and saw his neighbors’ faces

    The poem is very long, and is worth reading in full. The full text was published in Life Magazine; it is online here. The Life text may be a little difficult to read; I posted an excerpt which is considerably longer than the above here.

    Benet’s poem ends with these words:

    We made it and we make it and it’s ours
    We shall maintain it. It shall be sustained

    But shall it?

    Posted in Civil Liberties, Civil Society, History, Holidays, Poetry, Political Philosophy, Politics, USA | 4 Comments »

    New! – Your Month-End Haiku

    Posted by Jonathan on 29th June 2012 (All posts by )

    New Harley! Main Street:
    Radio on, blasting noise…
    Turn that damn thing down

    Your lefty neighbor
    Emails you Krugman columns
    How to be polite?

    Office ’07
    Menus driving you crazy?
    Too late to complain

    Frozen soy burgers
    Taste OK, better for you
    I’d rather have beef

    Your online profile
    Attracts mainly gay Muslims
    Time to change your luck?

    Posted in Humor, Poetry | 5 Comments »

    Trees: Phototropic Simplexities

    Posted by Charles Cameron on 25th June 2012 (All posts by )

    [ Cross-posted from Zenpundit -- this one's a prose poem: it begins with a statement so tight it needs to be unwound, & unwinds it ]
    .

    I wrote this urgently starting when it “woke” me at 4am one morning in the late 1990s or 2000, and as soon as it was out, I found myself writing another piece in the series, a game design. Together, the pair of them represent a stage in my games and education thinking intermediate between Myst-like Universities of 1996 and my vision today of games in education. In this posting, I have added the words “figuratively speaking” for absolute clarity: otherwise, the piece remains as written all those years ago.

    ***


    A copse. Photo credit: Ian Britton via FreePhoto.com under CC license. Note how the wind sweeps the trees into a group shape.

    ***

    Trees: Phototropic Simplexities

    Trees are phototropic simplexities, no wonder we like them they cowork so well too: copses, see.

    *

    Meaning:

    Trees we know: I as writer can refer you, reader, safely to them, “trees”, in trust that the word I use will signal to you too — triggering for you, also — pretty much the assortment of branching organic thingies about which I’m hoping to communicate that they are complex entities whose complexity comes from a simplicity of rule — branching — repeated with variations, said variants doing their branching in thirst of light, each trunk rising, limb outpushing, branch diverging, twig evading other twig much as one who seeks in a crowd a clear view of a distant celebrity shifts and cranes and peers — branching, thus, by the finding of light in avoidance of nearby shadow and moving into it, into light as position, that light, that position, growing, and thus in the overall “unified yet various”, we, seekers of the various and unified love them, to see them in greens themselves various in their simplexity is to say “tree” with a quiet warmth; while they themselves also, by the necessity of their branching seeking, if clumped together seek in an avoidance of each other’s seeking, growing, thus space-sharing in ways which as the wind sweeps and conforms them to its own simplex flows, shapes them to a common curve we call aerodynamic, highlit against the sky huddled together as “copse” — this, in the mind’s eyes and in your wanderings, see…

    *

    Meaning:

    Trees we can talk about. Simplexity is a useful term for forms — like trees — which are neither simple only nor complex only, but as varied as complexity suggests with a manner of variation as simple as simplicity implies.

    Trees? Their simplexity is conveyed in principle by the word “branching”. Its necessity lies in the need of each “reaching end” of the organism to ascertain from its own position and within the bounds of its possible growing movement, some “available” light — this light-seeking having the name “phototropism”.

    Simplexities — and thus by way of example, trees — we like, we call them beautiful.

    Clustered together, too, and shaped by the winds’ patterns of flow, these individual simplexities combine on an English hilltop (or where you will) to form yet other beauties.

    *

    Thus:

    Trees are phototropic simplexities, no wonder we like them they cowork so well too: copses, see.

    *

    Meaning:

    I love trees. Want to talk about simplexities, beauty.

    I wish to talk about beauty because it is beauty that I love, if I love it, that is beauty: love is kalotropic, a beauty-seeking. I am erotropic, love seeking — you can find in this my own simplexity, my own varieties of seeking, of the growths that are my growth, and clumping me with others under the winds, the pressures that form and conform us, you can find also the mutual shapes that we adopt, beautiful.

    Simplexity, then, is a key to beauty, variety, self, character, cohabitation… Tropism, seeking, is the key to simplexity. Love is my tropism. Ours, I propose.

    *

    Meaning:

    Beauty is one simplexity perceived by another: the eye of the beholder, with optic nerve, “brain”, branching neuron paths that other simplexity, “consciousness” the perceiving.

    *

    Meaning also:

    That all is jostle, striving — a strife for life, in which the outcome overall is for each a “place in the sun” but not without skirmishes, shadows. The overall picture, therefore, beautiful — but this overall beauty hard to perceive when the specific shadow falls in the specific sought place of the moment, the “available” is not available, and the strife of the moment is paramount.

    Branching being the order behind simplexity, differentiation…

    Differentiation for maximal tropism at all levels — life seeking always the light, honey, beauty, is always and everywhere in conflict also with itself, competitive: and competition the necessary act of the avoidance of shadow, and the shadow creating act.

    And beauty — the light, thing sought, implacably necessary food and drink, the honey — thus the drive that would make us kill for life.

    I could kill for beauty.

    I could kill for honey.

    Figuratively speaking.

    *

    Implying:

    Paradise and Fall, simultaneous, everywhere.

    It is at this juncture, at this branching, that we are “expelled from the garden” — can no longer see the beauty that is and remains overall, that can allow us to say also, “we are never outside the garden” — for the dappling of light on and among the leaves has become to us, too closely jostled, shadow.

    And shadow for shadow we jostle, and life is strife.

    *

    Thus:

    The dappling of light on leaves, beautiful, is for each shadowed leaf, shadow, death-dealing, is for each lit leaf, light, life-giving: a chiaroscuro, beautiful, see.

    Roots, too, have their mirror branchings.

    Posted in Miscellaneous, Philosophy, Photos, Poetry | 1 Comment »

    Inky Characters & Their Home in Deep Structure

    Posted by Ginny on 10th June 2012 (All posts by )

    We are drawn into narrative because of plot – our mind wonders what will happen – and because of character – our heart feels empathy, sympathy. In The Mind and its Stories: Narrative Universals and Human Emotion Patrick Colm Hogan uses the Sanskrit “rasa” as feeling evoked by “ink” people (Jonathan Gottschall’s term). Sanskrit “bhava” approximates emotions – ones evoked in our world. But, Hogan contrasts the love he feels for a character in a play with the love for his wife. “Rasa”, here, is a form of love – not sadness or pride. But that “inky” world lives: “the characters experience the bhavas, such as love and sorrow, while the readers/spectators experience the rasas, such as the erotic and the pathetic.” Of course, the definition works for us because we had the concept – our tenses hint at this universal experience: Shakespeare wrote Hamlet but Hamlet feels angst, we feel him feeling angst.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Academia, Arts & Letters, Book Notes, Poetry | 7 Comments »

    Between the warrior and the monk (iii): poetry and sacrament

    Posted by Charles Cameron on 4th June 2012 (All posts by )

    [ cross-posted from Zenpundit -- a warrior, a monk, and (still to come, in a fourth and final post) where that leaves me ]
    .


    .

    How I have loved that handwriting! How I loved that man! How I have loved that book…

    *

    I am fifteen, seventeen years old. I walk a few hundred yards in the chill English dawn to our little parish church to “serve Mass” at 6am, for this man whose intense gaze and tireless care for those he is with made him take of his hat to Mrs Tutu, and ask Hugh what would get him out of his hospital bed fastest. He brings the same gaze and care to bear on me, and talks to me about the English Jesuit poet Gerard Manley Hopkins, whose work he loves.

    Trevor Huddleston taught me to love poetry when he showed me Hopkins, and I cannot exactly tell this story without “reading” you a bit of the man’s work, because it gets to the heart of the matter.

    Hopkins has a very brilliant poem, As king fishers catch fire, which requires quite a bit of “unpacking” since Hopkins writes poetry as though packing an intolerable amount of sound and meaning into a very small space. The poem is about what Hopkins calls “selving”: being the self you are, ie being true not just to your possibilities, but to your flavor, your individuality. In the theological termino0logy of Duns Scotus: hacceitas.

    Here’s how Hopkins expresses it:

    Each mortal thing does one thing and the same:
    Deals out that being indoors each one dwells;
    Selves — goes itself; myself it speaks and spells,
    Crying What I do is me: for that I came.

    We selve, we become ourselves — we deal out into the world that being which dwells indoors, inside, within us.

    The second half of the poem goes like this:

    I say more: the just man justices;
    Keeps grace: that keeps all his goings graces;
    Acts in God’s eye what in God’s eye he is –
    Christ. For Christ plays in ten thousand places,
    Lovely in limbs, and lovely in eyes not his
    To the Father through the features of men’s faces.

    Let me try at least to unpack this much:

    The man who is just, he’s saying, goes about doing acts of justice (there’s no difference between his nature and his deeds), he is tethered to grace (has an inward center with which he is perpetually in touch), and that tether is what ensures his actions (“goings”) are of the quality of grace.

    He — and here Hopkins tell us what this is really all about, from his own perspective as a deeply religious man and a Catholic priest in the Jesuit order — acts Christ, for that is how God sees him. Each one of us is, in God’s eye, Christ, “for Christ plays in ten thousand places”. That’s the great gift Hopkins brings us, the understanding that being made in the image of God, we play here on earth like so many Christs, each with its own character and “self”, each one capable of grace… and thus, each individual beautiful to God “through the features of men’s faces”.

    Here, should you care to read it, is the whole poem.

    *

    Trevor offers his hands and voice as a priest at Mass to the great poetical transformation of “bread” into “body” and “wine” into “blood” that stands at the heart of the Christian mystery, and eats, digests, the divine presence among us, and offers that divine presence in the appearance of a wafer of bread and sip of wine to whoever “partakes of communion” with him.

    And walking to Mass, or walking back from Mass, he talks to me about South Africa, and the kids he knew there — Desmond and Hugh among them no doubt, though I learned those particular stories far later — and the pass laws which penalized his students when they were late getting home from work in a “white” part of town, and his fights in the courts and in the press for young people he loved — Hugh or Desmond or Oscar or whoever goes to Mass, receives Christ on his tongue, and that “keeps all his goings graces” — because “Christ plays in ten thousand places”, and Sophiatown, a shanty town just outside Johannesberg, is one of them.

    Father Trevor, school teacher, photo credit Constance Stuart Larrabee

    Am I making any sense? It was Trevor’s love, which “saw” the divine in each individual child he taught and coached and loved, which could not tolerate apartheid, which could not stop at a boy’s skin color and segregate or tolerate segregation.

    *

    Loving the individual before him with that gaze and care, he loved and taught me, for seven or eight years, in four hundred wonderful letters and many visits, Masses, days spent flyfishing for trout, voyages by car or train to visit a friend or a cathedral…

    And if I could express the essence, it was this: that you tether yourself to the divine on the inside, by belief, by ritual, above all by contemplation — and then you move through the world infused with that sense of the sacred in and around you, and do whatever is needful to bring about a more just society.

    You justice, you keep grace. That keeps all your goings graces.

    Christ the King, Sophiatown, photo credit Eliot Elisofon

    Not surprising, then, that his devotion to the kids of a shanty town in South Africa led him into court battles, into association with Luthuli and Mandela, into becoming one of a handful of “white” signatories of the African National Congress, into the award of the Isitwalandwe, the writing of his great book, Naught for your Comfort [link is to a free download] — which was smuggled out of the country to be published just a day ahead of the Special Police impounding all his papers — to bestsellerdom, to stirring the conscience of the world, to the Presidency of the Anti-Apartheid Movement, and finally to an archbishopric and a knighthood.

    He saw Christ, which was his name for love, and served him.

    Simple.

    *

    Father Trevor Huddleston wrote what I think must be among the most powerful words of eucharistic theology I have ever read in Naught for Your Comfort — and they convey as nothing else can the immediacy with which he connects his ritual gestures and acts as a priest with the political necessity to overthrow the apartheid regime in his beloved South Africa — and for that matter, any and all hatred and oppression everywhere…

    On Maundy Thursday, in the Liturgy of the Catholic Church, when the Mass of the day is ended, the priest takes a towel and girds himself with it; he takes a basin in his hands, and kneeling in front of those who have been chosen, he washes their feet and wipes them, kissing them also one by one. So he takes, momentarily, the place of his Master. The centuries are swept away, the Upper Room in the stillness of the night is all around him: “If I, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet, ye ought also to wash one another’s feet.” I have knelt in the sanctuary of our lovely church in Rosettenville and washed the feet of African students, stooping to kiss them. In this also I have known the meaning of identification. The difficulty is to carry the truth out into Johannesberg, into South Africa, into the world.

    Posted in Biography, Book Notes, Christianity, Poetry, Religion | 6 Comments »

    Between the warrior and the monk (ii): Fr Trevor Huddleston

    Posted by Charles Cameron on 1st June 2012 (All posts by )

    [ cross-posted from Zenpundit -- a warrior, a monk, and where that leaves me ]
    .

    In the first part of this post I introduced you to my father, Captain OG Cameron DSC, RN, the man who fueled my keen interest in gallantry and the martial side of things. The other great influence in my early life was Fr. Trevor Huddleston CR, pictured below:


    .

    Trevor Huddleston CR:

    Archbishop the Most Reverend Sir Ernest Urban Trevor Huddleston CR, KCMG – it’s hard even to know how to string his titles together, this monk, priest, schoolteacher, activist, archbishop, finally knighted by Her Majesty towards the end of his long and eventful life was the man who became a second father, guardian, mentor and spiritual guide to me shortly after my father died when I was nine.

    That’s the man as I knew him, Father Trevor — simple, caring, intelligent, perhaps a little austere even — in the middle image above.

    Austerity, simplicity: two more words to set beside gallantry in the lexicon of admiration and gratitude.
    .

    Satchmo:

    To the left in the same image, he’s shown with Louis Armstrong — Satchmo — who has just presented him with a trumpet.

    The story goes like this: as a monk in an Anglican monastic order, the Community of the Resurrection popularly known as the Mirfield Fathers, Father Trevor was sent to South Africa while still a young man, and worked in Sophiatown, just outside Johannesberg, as a priest and teacher.

    A young black kid in one of his classes, Hugh, aged 12 or 13, fell ill and was taken to hospital, where Trevor Huddleston visited him. Trevor asked him what he would like more than anything in this world, what would so thrill and please him that he would have the greatest possible motive for getting better, getting out of the hospital and back to school. Hugh said, “a trumpet, Father” — so Trevor got hold of a trumpet which he then presented to the boy: now known the world over as the great jazz trumpeter, Hugh Masekela.

    That wasn’t quite enough, though. A year or three later, Trevor was in the United States, and met Satchmo, who asked if there was anything he could do to help… Trevor told Satchmo he’d started a jazz band for the kids in his school, and knew a boy who would just love a trumpet…

    Trevor was a hard man to refuse.
    .

    Hugh Masekela:

    Here’s Hugh Masekela, just a little older, with the trumpet Trevor brought him from Louis Armstrong:

    And here’s the sound…

    When I was maybe 15, and Trevor had returned from South Africa to England, he gave me a 7″ “45″ record of the Huddleston Jazz Band — now long lost. Imagine my amazed delight to be able to hear that sound again, fifty years later, through the good graces of the internet –

    Hugh Masekela and the Huddleston Jazz Band play Ndenzeni na?

    .

    Desmond Tutu:

    Another story I like to tell about Trevor and his time in South Africa has to do with a lady…

    It seems this young black kid aged about 8 or 9 was sitting with his mother on the “stoop” outside his house in a South African shanty-town when a white priest walked by and doffed his hat to the boy’s mother.

    The boy could hardly grasp how this had happened — his mother was a black woman, as one might say, “of no special acount”. But the priest in question was Trevor Huddleston, and it was a natural courtesy for him to lift his hat in greeting a lady…

    The young boy never quite recovered from this encounter. We know him now as the Nobel Peace laureate, Archbishop Desmond Tutu.

    Here’s a photo of four old friends — Huddleston, Tutu, Julius Nyerere of Tanzania, and former Commonwealth Secretary General Shridath Ramphal.
    .

    From individuals to the world:

    These are two simple stories of how Fr Trevor simply and straightforwardly loved whomever was before him, regardless of the enormous pressure at the time to discriminate between “real” and “insignificant” people — a love which made an indelible mark on those whose lives it touched.

    And when Father Trevor touched you, as Lord Buckley might say, you stayed touched.

    Thus far I’ve been focusing on individuals that Trevor touched. I do not think he in fact saw more than one person at a time, and his responses to situations were geared directly to the service of his love.

    It was because of this that while he was in South Africa, Trevor repeatedly and quite literally put his life on the line in defence of the very simple proposition that the color of a person’s skin was immaterial in view of the love that was possible between any two people — so perhaps here’s where I should mention some of that history and some of the honors it brought him. After all, Trevor did pretty much take on the government of the South Africa he so loved, and lived to see it change.
    .

    Bishop Trevor of Sophiatown

    Trevor Huddleston was a founding member of the African National Congress, the author of the first non-fiction work (Naught for Your Comfort, more on that later) to critique his beloved South Africa’s apartheid policy, reviled publically for meddling in politics by an Archbishop of Canterbury who later declared he had been in error and that Fr Trevor was about as close to a saint as one could find.

    In 1955, Father Trevor, along with Yusuf Dadoo and Chief Albert Luthuli, was awarded the Isitwalandwe, the highest award given by the African National Congress. He was awarded the United Nations Gold Medal in recognition of his contribution to the international campaign against apartheid, the highest awards from both Zambia and Nigeria, the Dag Hammerskjold Award for Peace, the Indira Gandhi Memorial Prize, and ten honorary doctorates, including that of his alma mater, Oxford.

    Archbishop Huddleston initiated the “International Declaration for the Release of Nelson Mandela and all Political Prisoners” in 1982, took part in the televised “International Tribute for a Free South Africa” held at Wembley Stadium, London in 1990 during which he introduced the address by Nelson Mandela (see below), entered South Africa House, Trafalgar Square, London in 1994 to vote in the first South African democratic election, and was a guest at President Mandela’s inauguration in Pretoria that year.

    He received the KCMG (Knight Commander of the Order of St. Michael and St. George) in the 1998 New Year Honours list, for “Services to UK-South African Relations”, and attended an Investiture at Buckingham Palace on March 24th, 1998, to receive this honour from HM the Queen.

    He chose the designation, “Bishop Trevor of Sophiatown”.
    .

    Nelson Mandela:

    But let’s go back to individuals, and to Nelson Mandela in particular.

    Mandela and Trevor were comrades in the fight against apartheid from the beginning — and the richness of their friendship is visible in the photo of Mandela with his arms on Trevor’s shoulders in the right hand panel at the top of this page.

    In his autobiography, Long Walk to Freedom, Mandela tells the story of a time when he and Walter Sisulu were approached by a group of South African police who had been ordered to arrest them. Trevor, who was talking with with the two of them, called out to the cops, “No, you must arrest me instead, my dears.”

    It’s that “my dears” that gives the game away. I can hear those words in Trevor’s voice. Even the cops were dear to Trevor: he might be utterly opposed to what they were doing, and risk his life to oppose them – but they were children of God.

    Here’s a video of Trevor’s speech introducing Mandela at Wembley — a political speech, to be sure, but one powered by religious conviction.
    .

    Mandela’s tribute:

    I’m saving the best of what Fr. Trevor taught me for the third post in this series, and hope to wrap the series up with some of my own reflections in a fourth; here I’d like to close with the words Mandela wrote about his friend after Trevor’s death in 1998:

    It is humbling for an ordinary mortal like myself to express the deep sense of loss one feels at the death of so great and venerable figure as Father Trevor Huddleston.
    .
    Father Huddleston was a pillar of wisdom, humility and sacrifice to the legions of freedom fighters in the darkest moments of the struggle against apartheid. At a time when identifying with the cause of equality for all South Africans was seen as the height of betrayal by the privileged, Father Huddleston embraced the downtrodden. He forsook all that apartheid South Africa offered the privileged minority. And he did so at great risk to his personal safety and well-being.
    .
    On behalf of the people of South Africa and anti-apartheid campaigners across the world, I convey my deepest condolences to his Church, his friends and his colleagues. Isithwalandwe Trevor Huddleston belonged to that category of men and women who make the world the theatre of their operation in pursuit of freedom and justice.
    .
    He brought hope, sunshine and comfort to the poorest of the poor. Not only was he a leader in the fight against oppression. He was also father and mentor to many leaders of the liberation movement, most of whom now occupy leading positions in all spheres of public life in our country. His memory will live in the hearts of our people.

    Posted in Biography, Christianity, International Affairs, Music, Poetry | 4 Comments »

    “My Verse Distills Your Truth”

    Posted by Ginny on 15th April 2012 (All posts by )

    I’m an amateur at technology – one of those stand at the front and yell at them, one of those “put-two-marks on the board to describe all of – well everything” teachers. “Potted lectures,” tests over the readings – that’s me. (My favorite pattern – that of the autobiographical or first person narrator taking us to the past, showing us the trail and trials to become the person speaking had a certain simplicity. But laughter began as I started, one semester, to put it up for the fifth or sixth time. Ah, I said, but doesn’t this make sense? Well, maybe, they said. It also looks like a rather flaccid penis. Perhaps simplicity leaves too much to the imagination.)
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Academia, Arts & Letters, Media, Poetry | 3 Comments »