Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Bad Poetry That is Scads of Fun - Lady Caroline Norton (1808-1877 and not minute too soon!)

" Fritz, I asked about that snake bite . . .  Doc sez, yer not gonna make it!"

We know what the people of America think. This is a very bad idea. (Senator Richard Durbin D. IL)

A very wise man wrote " It strikes me that the turpitude of our politicians might come into starker relief if we were to view them as bad poets: pathetic and desperate souls, free from restraints of harmony and good form, who must fill the world with their corrupt and ugly visions and endeavour to shape it to them."

It do seem so. People who recite poems in public settings tend to limited their study of the art to the poems that helped us as kids. Memory skills are developed with poems whether tying shoes or remembering days in a month.  My encounters with bad poems had to do with punitive post-school day assignments afforded me by Sister Mary Alaric, RSM,  The more sing-song the poem the better for the memory.  Often the themes are as humanly rudimentary as the wee human's place . . .elementary.

No one is more WEE than a politician. Politicians have themes for each grift they intend to perpetuate e.g  "Monica, gimma a Vet's poem for the old gimps at Hines VA this morning. You know,  all that 'Johnny We Hardly Knew Ye!' bullshit. Then I got a date with some  Sheenies up in Lincoln Park for lunch, followed by the Old Timey Shine Ministers - dig up some Yiddish  Yiddle-Fiddle crap and some WEB DuBoy  'I Hate Whitey Stuff'  -Hey, I love this stuff you dug up for the Shuttle Disaster Survivors! Who wrote it? . . .Don't know?  Ah, neither will they!

"O Moon, when I gaze on thy beautiful face,
Careering along through the boundaries of space,
The thought has often come into my mind
If I shall ever see thy glorious behind."

The more Bathetic the more the poem is recited. 

Imagine, if our elected dolts had actually developed any level of discernment through the study of poetry? Imagine Dick Durbin without AE Houseman?  Where would a Joe Biden go for work?  Where would Gov. Pat Quinn find a paycheck?  Where else but behind bars would a Rod Blagojevich be?

Imagine not needing to endure a very bad recitation of "IF" at every political campaign kickoff from a dolt who would struggle to spell the title of the poem let alone tell you that it was Kipling who wrote - Henry Wadsworth Kipling. Even great poets like John Donne and William Wordsworth wrote some pooches. 

I really enjoy the ballad form that told stories of highwaymen, outlaws, briggands, badmashes and the bollocks.  The absolute best are the closed couplet train-wrecks like the offering attached.

Don't get me wrong - Bad Poetry rocks! The Stuffed Owl Variety.

Poetry is a blessing and had at one time been the most important discipline. The More undisciplined the poem the more it hits the mark as bad poetry ' The Boy stood on the Burning Deck . . .& etc.'

Lady Caroline Norton was the granddaughter  of the Irish wit and playwright Richard Brinsley Sheridan ( The Rivals) and reputed to be one the most beautiful women in Great Britain.  She was witty, well-read, kind and warm-hearted; married to her polar opposite - a slow-witted lawyer with soul of a gnat. This titanic midget of man sued his wife for 'Criminal Conversation' -adultery with Lord Melbourne,in a fit of sissified jealousy. Divorce was unheard of at the time, but the couple were separated for keeps.

Though this gorgeous and talented woman was known in her day as a poet - The Female Byron by some -she is known these days for activism for woman's children's rights.  Here is why.

V. Bingen on the Rhine
By Caroline Elizabeth Sarah (Sheridan) Norton (1808–1877)

A SOLDIER of the Legion lay dying in Algiers—
There was lack of woman’s nursing, there was dearth of woman’s tears;
But a comrade stood beside him, while his life-blood ebbed away,
And bent, with pitying glances, to hear what he might say.
The dying soldier faltered, as he took that comrade’s hand,        5
And he said: “I never more shall see my own, my native land;
Take a message and a token to some distant friends of mine,
For I was born at Bingen—at Bingen on the Rhine!
“Tell my brothers and companions, when they meet and crowd around
To hear my mournful story, in the pleasant vineyard ground,        10
That we fought the battle bravely—and, when the day was done,
Full many a corse lay ghastly pale, beneath the setting sun.
And ’midst the dead and dying were some grown old in wars,—
The death-wound on their gallant breasts, the last of many scars;
But some were young,—and suddenly beheld life’s morn decline,—        15
And one had come from Bingen—fair Bingen on the Rhine!
“Tell my mother that her other sons shall comfort her old age,
And I was aye a truant bird, that thought his home a cage;
For my father was a soldier, and, even as a child,
My heart leaped forth to hear him tell of struggles fierce and wild;        20
And when he died, and left us to divide his scanty hoard,
I let them take whate’er they would—but kept my father’s sword;
And with boyish love I hung it where the bright light used to shine,
On the cottage wall at Bingen—calm Bingen on the Rhine!
“Tell my sister not to weep for me, and sob with drooping head,        25
When the troops are marching home again, with glad and gallant tread;
But to look upon them proudly, with a calm and steadfast eye,
For her brother was a soldier, too—and not afraid to die.
And, if a comrade seek her love, I ask her, in my name,
To listen to him kindly, without regret or shame;        30
And to hang the old sword in its place (my father’s sword and mine),
For the honour of old Bingen—dear Bingen on the Rhine!
“There’s another—not a sister,—in the happy days gone by,
You’d have known her by the merriment that sparkled in her eye:
Too innocent for coquetry! too fond for idle scorning;—        35
Oh friend! I fear the lightest heart makes sometimes heaviest mourning!
Tell her, the last night of my life (for, ere this moon be risen,
My body will be out of pain—my soul be out of prison),
I dreamed I stood with her, and saw the yellow sunlight shine
On the vine-clad hills of Bingen—fair Bingen on the Rhine!        40
“I saw the blue Rhine sweep along—I heard, or seemed to hear,
The German songs we used to sing, in chorus sweet and clear;
And down the pleasant river, and up the slanting hill,
That echoing chorus sounded, through the evening calm and still;
And her glad blue eyes were on me, as we passed with friendly talk,        45
Down many a path beloved of yore, and well-remembered walk;
And her little hand lay lightly, confidingly in mine …
But we’ll meet no more at Bingen—loved Bingen on the Rhine!”
His voice grew faint and hoarser,—his grasp was childish weak,—
His eyes put on a dying look,—he sighed and ceased to speak:        50
His comrade bent to lift him,… but the spark of life had fled!
The soldier of the Legion, in a foreign land was dead!
And the soft moon rose up slowly, and calmly she looked down
On the red sand of the battle-field, with bloody corpses strown;
Yea, calmly on that dreadful scene her pale light seemed to shine,        55
As it shone on distant Bingen—fair Bingen on the Rhine

Thought that Square-head'd never die. I guess the French Foreign Legion had Nazi war criminals on the run even in the Mid-19th Century. Did not know that.

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