National Poetry Day

I missed National Poetry Day. I guess it was October 1st this year. When I was a kid, I used to write poems all the time. Topics ranged from my grandma’s food, my grandpa buying lottery tickets, why I loved baseball, etc… I was far from a talented poet. I would never have been able to make a living as a poet!

There are many famous poets, who you no doubt will know by name: Edgar Allan Poe, Walt Whitman, Robert Frost, Maya Angelou, Rudyard Kipling, Oscar Wilde, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Emily Dickinson, Shel Silverstein, Carl Sandburg, and many, many more! Growing up I was very familiar with them as we often read their poems in school. Shel Silverstein had a book out called Where the Sidewalk Ends that my teachers seem to read aloud from often. In junior high and high school, we had these thick hard cover Literature books which were full of short stories, classics, and many poems. I recall reading Poe’s The Raven from one of these.

When I think of poetry, there is ALWAYS one that comes to my mind – and not for any reasons you might think! The poem is Alfred Lord Tennyson’s The Charge of the Light Brigade. I recall one class where we had to pick a poem and read it aloud in front of the class. I chose this one. Why is this the one I remember? I’ll get to that in a few paragraphs.

The Charge of the Light Brigade

Alfred Lord Tennyson wrote this in 1854 about the Charge of the Light Brigade at the Battle of Balaclava during the Crimean War. (It sounds like I am a history buff, right? In all honesty, I had no idea about the details of this battle or even the Crimean War until I looked it up!) He wrote this poem based on two articles he had read about the battle.

According to one source: This poem was written to memorialize a suicidal charge by light cavalry over open terrain by British forces in the Battle of Balaclava (Ukraine) in the Crimean War (1854-56). 247 men of the 637 in the charge were killed or wounded. Britain entered the war, which was fought by Russia against Turkey, Britain and France, because Russia sought to control the Dardanelles. Russian control of the Dardanelles threatened British sea routes.

Many in the west best know of this war today because of Florence Nightingale, who trained and led nurses aiding the wounded during the war in a manner innovative for those times. The War was also noteworthy as an early example of the work of modern war correspondents.

Alfred Lord Tennyson

Here is the poem:

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
Some one had blunder’d:
Theirs not to make reply,
Theirs not to reason why,
Theirs but to do & 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 & 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 & Russian
Reel’d from the sabre-stroke,
Shatter’d & 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 & 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 wonder’d.
Honour the charge they made!
Honour the Light Brigade,
Noble six hundred!

Enter – Alfalfa

So why do I remember this poem? Would you believe because of the Little Rascals?

Growing up, we watched the Three Stooges, Laurel and Hardy and the Little Rascals. In one particular Little Rascals comedy (Two Too Young from 1936), Alfalfa puts some firecrackers in his back pocket that he and Spanky have conned Porky and Buckwheat out of. After returning to class, the teacher asks who knows the recitation. To Spanky’s surprise, Alfalfa raises his hand. He stands and begins to recite the poem. Porky spots the fireworks and proceeds to light the fuse using the sun, which provides some “battle sound effects” to accompany the poem. “Cannons to the left of me…….”

Alfalfa in Two Too Young (1936)

So there you have it – a bit of culture today for National Poetry Day. Have no fear, this is about as cultural as this blog will ever get!

Porky and Buckwheat!

Thanks for reading! Do you have a favorite poet? Favorite Poem?

A Curly Classic!

Time. Life. Death. Ripples.

ccf258c663c06ef7921f28df717da99c492b72cev2_hq

The longest song I ever played on the air was Alice’s Restaurant by Arlo Guthrie which is just over 18 minutes long.  We played this on the classic rock station (and sometimes on the oldies station) every Thanksgiving.  To those who love the song, it was the perfect length.  To those who hated the song, it went on too long.  Their feelings about the song depended on their perception of time.  (Incidentally, the shortest song I ever played on the radio was Her Majesty by the Beatles.  I think it clocks in at just over 20 seconds long.)

Time. I have found myself thinking a lot about time over the past month or so. I have had the word “time” written on my list of blog topics for a while, but have never felt that I am ready to blog about it.  In all honesty, I am still not ready, but I had to write something to clear my head.

There is no shortage of great quotes about time:

“Time is what we want most, but what we use worst” – William Penn

“Time isn’t the main thing.  It’s the only thing” – Miles Davis

“Time you enjoy wasting, was not wasted” – John Lennon

“Lost time is never found again” – Benjamin Franklin

Time is one of those things that is constantly moving.  It moves second by second.  Hour by hour.  Day by day.  Year by year. The truth of the matter is that time is constant.  3 minutes is 3 minutes.  How one perceives that 3 minutes depends on the situation.  In some cases, 3 minutes can feel like 10 minutes. In others it can feel like just 1 minute.  Think of an 8 hour work day and compare it to 8 hours on vacation.  Vacation time is flying by while the clock at work moves slowly.

Earlier this month, Facebook was flooded with “First Day of School” pictures.  My friends posted pictures with captions that read: “Where did the time go?”, “Wasn’t she just in kindergarten?”, “How did he grow up so fast?”, and “Last First Day of School”.  I can relate to that last one as my oldest son started his Senior year this year.  My Facebook “Memories” feed has been full of my own kid’s “first day of school” pictures, and I, too, have wondered those same questions.

So why am I rambling about time??

97370400dce09769f5a88422453107ea

In my 49 years on this planet, I have lost many people close to me, many at a young age.  Some of them, I have blogged about: my mom (who was only 58),  my grandpa (mom’s dad, also 58), my radio buddy, Rob (only 56), and my Uncle Tom (just 68).  This week, I found out a good friend passed away unexpectedly at only 47 and another friend was basically told her days are numbered – she is 48.  I can’t imagine how time will proceed for her.

I understand that death is a part of life.  I am reminded of a quote from my psychology class that said, “The hardest part of losing someone isn’t having to say goodbye, but rather learning to live without them – always having to fill the void, the emptiness that’s left inside your heart when they go.”  This is so true.  Leo Buscaglia said, “Death is a challenge.  It tells us not to waste time.”  Also true.  Bruce Lee, who died at the young age of 32, said, “If you love life, don’t waste time, for time is what life is made up of.” 

I sit here staring at this computer screen and my thoughts are all over the place.  Is this blog about Time or Death?  I don’t know.  I guess they both tie together somehow in my mind.  I guess Life also ties in with them.  “Live every day as if it were your last. Someday, you’ll be right.” That quote, which I read on the band room announcement grease board 31 years ago, will always remain with me.

The more I think about it, the more I realize that those three things (life, death, and time) do all go together.  Looking back at the people I have quoted, they have all passed away, yet their words are still here making an impact.  I guess this proves the quote of another person who is no longer here.  The late author Terry Pratchett says this: “No one is actually dead until the ripples they cause in the world die away.”  

I still talk about my mom – ripples.

I still tell stories about my Uncle Tom – ripples.

I still laugh along with Rob when I listen to our old shows – ripples.

Thinking of my buddy Rob, I remember ad-libbing a poem on the air about an upcoming station event.  He looked at me and his Elvis character voice he said to me, “Man! You’re a real Carl Sandburg today.”  It’s probably a coincidence that I have a Carl Sandburg quote about time to share:

“Time is the coin of your life.  It’s the only coin you have, and only you can determine how it will be spent. Be careful lest you let other people spend it for you.” – Carl Sandburg

____

As I re-read this blog, I realize that it is a jumbled mess of thoughts.  For that I apologize to anyone who has ever read my blog and said “You’re a good writer.”  Usually my blogs have a point to them, I am not sure this one does.  Hell, I don’t even have a title yet!  I really wish I had planned this out a little better.  Tell you what, for now, let’s say this blog is a “tease” to the “real” blog about “time” to come at a future date.  And as far as the point, or moral, or lesson?  Uh….how bout this….

Make good use of your time and live your life so that you will be forever causing ripples.

3-water-ripples-pasieka