Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Poem for Tuesday

Two Poems
By Ogden Nash

Old Men

People expect old men to die.
They do not really mourn old men.
Old men are different. People look
At them with eyes that wonder when...
People watch with unshocked eyes;
But the old men know when an old man dies.

Which the Chicken, Which the Egg

He drinks because she scolds, he thinks;
She thinks she scolds because he drinks;
And neither will admit what's true,
That he's a sot and she's a shrew.


The latter poem exemplifies what Robert Pinsky calls "Nash's often repeated trick: two prolonged, wandering and often prosy lines creating a resourceful or outrageous couplet rhyme" in Poet's Choice in Sunday's Washington Post Book World. "As with rap music, the point is partly a joke on the English language, with its relative poverty of rhymes: The many different roots of our mongrel language -- Germanic, Norman French, Latin, other inventions and imports like 'barbecue' and 'googol' -- give it a rich vocabulary of synonyms but leave it with relatively few rhymes compared with Italian or French," Pinsky note. "Sometimes rap performance, like Nash's poetry, dramatizes the limits and resources of English in order to express a laughing frustration. But Nash's sensibility has a bleak, sour quality that is not the stuff of popular music."

"It might be natural to assume that Nash wrote [the top] lines as an oldster himself, maybe in a bout of old-age depression. But 'Old Men' appears in his first book, Hard Lines, published in 1931, when the author was 29 years old," Pinsky adds. However. "Which the Chicken, Which the Egg" is from The Old Dog Barks Backwards, published in 1972. "The mordant quality of these poems comes from their stoic determination not to be surprised by the worst in people, including the author. That biting, skeptical, even grouchy viewpoint is not the opposite or dark underside of Nash's gift for comedy. On the contrary, the way of writing fits the worldview: The comedy of moral imperfection goes with the formal joke of lines that break rules of measure and correctness to arrive at their rhyme."

Had a relatively quiet day. Had lunch with my husband at an Indian restaurant we'd never tried before, came home and rearranged all sorts of dorky things in my bedroom because I finally tracked down Romeo & Juliet Barbie & Ken really cheaply (after nearly a decade of looking) and had to shift all my dolls around...now Aragorn & Arwen Barbie & Ken are more prominently displayed, too, and the Irish Legends which have cheap ugly boxes but are rather pretty dolls, and all the Halloween witches are in one place. I saw photos of this year's Target exclusive Halloween Barbie and she looks awesome! I hope I manage to find one in the store this year and don't have to resort to eBay!

Anyway, yeah, I said dorky things...I also split my Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter tags here because they'd become so massive (120+ each), gave Hanover a separate tag from Gettysburg, tagged all the Pattiann Rogers poems I could find because she's the one I end up pimping to people most often and since I had a Sharon Olds tag already I figured she could have one too...hey, if anyone has a favorite poet whose work you've actually bookmarked here and you want to create tags in this journal for that poet, please feel free, as I don't know where all the Whitman, Kenyon, Rilke, Neruda, etc. is! Shakespeare and Olds are the only ones I've tagged regularly!

Watched this week's Brotherhood a day late (and we figured out how to use Showtime On Demand to do it, and now we know they don't run previews for other shows over the closing credits so the episodes can be recorded uncluttered that way, yay!). This is all going to end very badly, I suspect: the brothers are not going to be smart enough to band together against common foes, for the pattern is a lot like Greek tragedy despite the modern vulgar dialogue. I thought I could not root for Michael at all after he had McGonagle (hahahaha, I never thought about that name before) break the projectionist's fingers, but then there was that whole "You're my friend and I love you!" scene after he caught Pete drinking and I totally forgave him...Tommy could have that kind of devotion if he'd give Michael a break, and it's not like his own hands are so clean. Overall I found it to be a terrific episode, if a little thematically heavy-handed...the restored movie theater showing How Green Was My Valley while Rose agitated for unionization at the show's equivalent of Wal-Mart and Tommy went around making compromises right and left while forgetting that the rule he applies so rigidly to his brother -- never, ever trust a mobster -- applies equally to every other mobster whose money and support he covets.

A lady of the court gives her hand to a Frenchman, thus breaking an Englishman's heart.

"The Bull" rides in, his horse leaping over the flames. He did a lot of the showier tricks on horseback in the joust, but the guy playing Sir Edward had to fall off his horse twice in the two jousts we saw, which I gather is something that takes enormous skill.

There are also excellent displays of skill with the longbow -- this archer was hitting targets from further than the length of a football field.

One of the armory shops is a pirate ship. This is very popular with my children despite the frustration of not being allowed to touch anything inside. (Since it was romance weekend and apparently we arrived at the right moment, my husband and his father were given tickets to get me and his mother little sword letter openers at this armory. Sweet!)

Of course it is always a pleasure to see a soldier of Gondor...

...or one of the Queen's Hounds, which are actually greyhounds rescued from tracks and various other places.

The Pennsylvania Renaissance Faire is always good for tricks with fire at the joust -- there are cannons, explosions and the like.

Tuesday I must decide whether it is worth buying Threshold on DVD or waiting to see whether Sci-Fi shows the episodes pretty complete, uncut and recordable. Do I want it badly enough to own? Nah, should save the money for Mission: Impossible!

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