Tag Archives: Poetry

The Pelican Brief

16 Nov

You may know these lines.

A wonderful bird is the pelican,
His bill will hold more than his belican,
He can take in his beak
Enough food for a week
But I’m damned if I see how the helican!

It is a limerick of some fame. In fact, some consider it one of the best limericks of all time.

Through the years, I have heard several limericks, and some of them have stuck in my mind. There is the one about Nantucket. There is also one I heard in a movie about a young lady from Niger who rode on a tiger.

Bonus points for anyone who can tell me what movie featured that one.

Now, back to the pelican limerick. Most people think it was written by Ogden Nash. Apparently, Nash wrote a bunch of limericks, and, when people do not know who wrote something, they automatically think he did it. Look it up. The name of Ogden Nash is all over The Pelican.

However, here is the thing. Ogden Nash did not write this one. The Pelican was written by Dixon Merritt, who lived in Lebanon, Tennessee.Dixon Merritt

His name is prominent in our town’s history. There is a building at Cedars of Lebanon State Park that bears his name. He also taught at Cumberland University; edited The Lebanon Democrat and The Tennessean newspapers; served as Tennessee State Director of Public Safety; and was an amateur historian.

On top of all that, he was a poet, and most people did not know it.

The Moon and the Moody Blues

9 Oct

Over the past few nights, the moon has been full and bright to the point that it causes slight shadows. A few times, I have gone out and just looked at it. I took out the trash and spent a few extra moments in the driveway. I also walked onto the deck just to stare at the sky. The moonlight was almost blinding, and, both nights, low clouds floated by to give it that haunted look.

The moon has always fascinated me, and I have often taken time to look at it. Of course, the face is there. However, it is more than that. It is the closest celestial body, and it stands guard over the night. There are times when it makes the night darker and more mysterious. There are times, like the past few nights, when it makes the night lighter and brings clarity to a time of hiding.

Each time I study the moon, the same words make their way through my mind. They are not words that I put together. They are not words from some dusty poetry book. They are words from an album that I first heard a long time ago. The Moody Blues created Days of Future Passed and included the following verses.Moody Blues

The album begins with:

Cold hearted orb that rules the night,
Removes the colours from our sight,
Red is gray and yellow white,
But we decide which is right.
And which is an illusion?
Pinprick holes in a colourless sky,
Let insipid figures of light pass by,
The mighty light of ten thousand suns,
Challenges infinity and is soon gone.
Night time, to some a brief interlude,
To others the fear of solitude.
Brave Helios wake up your steeds,
Bring the warmth the countryside needs.

The album closes with:

Breathe deep the gathering gloom,
Watch lights fade from every room.
Bedsitter people look back and lament,
Another day’s useless energy spent.
Impassioned lovers wrestle as one,
Lonely man cries for love and has none.
New mother picks up and suckles her son,
Senior citizens wish they were young.
Cold hearted orb that rules the night,
Removes the colours from our sight.
Red is grey and yellow white.
But we decide which is right.
And which is an illusion?

I am not sure when I first heard the album, but these words have been with me since. There are other poems and songs about the moon, but that full and bright moon always brings these verses from the back of my mind. Like the night, the moon illuminates them and brings them from the hidden recesses of my memory.

What Is This Post About?

17 Mar

There’s not much going on in my head tonight. No words of wisdom. No original blogging ideas. Heck, I’m not even sure why I turned on the computer and logged into WordPress. It could be that I got tired of watching Star Trek: The Next Generation on BBC America. The episode that just ended saw Geordi turn into an alien. The next episode has Barkley turning into a superhuman. It seems that everyone is always turning into something on that show.

I went to a couple of sessions of the Southeastern Conference basketball tournament this week. My team lost, and the other games weren’t very exciting, either. Probably, the most exciting part about the week was finding myself behind a Fisker Karma. Don’t worry. I also didn’t know what it was, but I looked up the price. Base: $94,000.

The Karma

The Karma

I hope the driver remembers that Karma is a bitch sometimes.

For some reason, Eric Cartman just entered my head.Eric CartmanI haven’t seen Southpark in a long time. Unlike Star Trek: The Next Generation, they don’t turn into different things on that show. They do a lot of funny crap, though.

Oh, there’s this other thing that popped into my head. The Moody Blues recorded an album called Days of Future Past that I have always been fascinated with.Moody Blues

It’s a concept album that takes the listener through the day from morning until night. Each song is about a certain time of day. The album includes Nights in White Satin and other songs, but it begins and ends with poetry. Those poems are what has fascinated me.

The Day Begins

Cold hearted orb that rules the night
Removes the colours from our sight
Red is gray and yellow, white
But we decide which is right
And which is an illusion

Pinprick holes in a colourless sky
Let insipid figures of light pass by
The mighty light of ten thousand suns
Challenges infinity and is soon gone
Night time, to some a brief interlude
To others the fear of solitude

Brave Helios, wake up your steeds
Bring the warmth the countryside needs

Late Lament

Breathe deep the gathering gloom
Watch lights fade from every room
Bedsitter people look back and lament
Another day’s useless energy spent

Impassioned lovers wrestle as one
Lonely man cries for love and has none
New mother picks up and suckles her son
Senior citizens wish they were young

Cold hearted orb that rules the night
Removes the colours from our sight
Red is grey and yellow, white
But we decide which is right
And which is an illusion

So, what is this post about?

It’s about a car that is a bitch to pay for and could be a bitch to drive.

It’s about Eric Cartman, one of the great authority figures of our time.

It’s about the poetry of the Moody Blues.

It’s about needing to write something and just letting stuff pour onto the screen.

John Wayne and Edgar Allan Poe

16 Nov

A lot of blog subjects passed through my mind today. I contemplated sharing my classroom experiences and even the lunch I had with my friend Dave. However, I am not in the right frame of mind to write about Latin America, World War II or the experience of eating at the Colonel’s Buffet.

I have been thinking quite a bit about the Natalie Merchant concert. I attend many concerts, but it is the rare occasion when I continue to think about them a few days later. However, this one reached me to the core. I found her poetry songs interesting and have perused iTunes (there goes my iAddiction again) while contemplating purchasing a few. While listening, I began to think about my favorite poems. I am not a big poetry fan, but, as with everyone, some catch my fancy.

“Eldorado”, by Edgar Allan Poe, is my all-time favorite. The weird part is that I didn’t learn it from an English class or from discussing poetry in a coffeehouse. I learned it by watching a John Wayne movie.El Dorado

While I was growing up, my dad and older brother watched John Wayne movies all of the time. Wanting to be involved, I watched them too and began to memorize some of them. I especially latched on to “El Dorado”, which starred Wayne, Robert Mitchum and James Caan. Wayne played Cole Thornton, a gunfighter who owed a local ranching family for a tragic accident. Mitchum was J.P. Harrah, friend of Thornton who became a drunken sheriff. Caan played Mississippi, a young gambler that Thornton befriends. As the movie unfolds, the three of them, along with the comedic sidekick, fight against and defeat the rich, bad guy rancher.

Throughout the film, Mississippi recited lines from a poem about a gallant knight that I thought the writers of the movie came up with. As I researched the movie, I learned that it was the poem by Poe. Goes to show you that anything can be learned from any source. John Wayne taught me poetry and led me to become a historian who researches the history of the American West.

So, today’s mindset led me to poetry, and, for those who have never read it, here is “Eldorado”.

Gaily bedight,

A gallant knight,

In sunshine and in shadow,

Had journeyed long,

Singing a song,

In search of Eldorado.

But he grew old-

This knight so bold-

And o’er his heart a shadow

Fell as he found

No spot of ground

That looked like Eldorado.

And, as his strength

Failed him at length,

He met a pilgrim shadow-

“Shadow,” said he,

“Where can it be-

This land of Eldorado?”

“Over the Mountains

Of the Moon,

Down the Valley of the Shadow,

Ride, boldly ride,”

The shade replied-

“If you seek for Eldorado!”