Friday, April 29, 2011

What's Your Favorite Poem?

("Ulysses' Dream", 1893, Nicolae_Vermont_-_Visul_lui_Ulise.jpg‎ (382 × 275 pixels, file size: 24 KB, MIME type: image/jpeg)

Though National Poetry Month is nearly over for 2011, I hope you continue to appreciate poetry year 'round.

I like many different kinds of poetry from many different poets, old and new. When I consider what I would call my favorite poem, though, "Ulysses" by Alfred, Lord Tennyson is still the one I choose. I'd like to think we all have a heroic heart within us that keeps us seeking, striving, and finding at any age. Here's the last part:

...Come, my friends.
'Tis not too late to seek a newer world.
Push off, and sitting well in order smite
the sounding furrows; for my purpose holds
To sail beyond the sunset, and the baths
Of all the western stars, until I die.
It may be that the gulfs will wash us down;
It may be that we shall touch the Happy Isles,
And see the great Achilles, whom we knew.
Though much is taken, much abides; and though
We are not now that strength which in old days
Moved earth and heaven, that which we are, we are---
One equal temper of heroic hearts,
Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.

Read the whole poem here

or listen to Sir Lewis Casson recite it:

Alfred Lord Tennyson - Ulysses - Lewis Casson by poetictouch

What's one of your favorite poems?

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Happy Easter, Happy National Poetry Month!

(photo by Jaypeg21)

It's Easter weekend and National Poetry Month, no better time to celebrate and read the poetry of George Herbert. Herbert, a British poet in the 17th century, was also a priest. He is known as one of the metaphysical poets, who wrote about theories of existence and knowledge. As a priest, Herbert applied Christian themes to his theories and is known as a poet who used metaphor skillfully. His poetry typographically often creates shapes, as in his famous "Easter Wings."

Easter Wings

Lord, who createdst man in wealth and store,
Though foolishly he lost the same,
Decaying more and more,
Till he became
Most poore:
With thee
Oh let me rise
As larks, harmoniously,
And sing this day thy victories:
Then shall the fall further the flight in me.

My tender age in sorrow did beginne:
And still with sicknesses and shame
Thou didst so punish sinne,
That I became
Most thinne.
With thee
Let me combine
And feel this day thy victorie:
For, if I imp my wing on thine
Affliction shall advance the flight in me.
—-George Herbert, Easter Wings from The Temple (1633)

(Portrait of George Herbert (poet) by Robert White in 1674. From National Portrait Gallery (UK))

To see how the printed version appeared and fully appreciate the "wings" imagery, click here.

Happy Easter!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Play Ball!

(, Creative Commons, Some rights reserved by mistycabal)

Baseball season is well underway, and if you're a fan, you probably have disagreed with the umpires a time or two already. Did you know that the first female baseball umpire was a South Dakotan?

Amanda Clement, now in the South Dakota Sports Hall of Fame, never umped a pro game, but umpired many amateur games and later coached athletes in many sports. At 5 feet, 10 inches, her height was a great advantage in making correct calls, as in those days the umpire stood behind the pitcher

Clement's story caught the interest of Yankton, South Dakota, author, Marilyn Kratz. She turned her research findings into a newly released book for children, Umpire in a Skirt. The South Dakota State Historical Society Press offers more information and an interview with Marilyn here.

(Umpire making the call on a man sliding into home plate during a baseball game between Washington and the Boston Red Sox,between 1910 and 1930,No known restrictions on publication, Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division )

It's possible that Clement was responsible for a scenario like that expressed in the classic "Mighty Casey at the Bat." STEEE_RIKE!

Let's wrap this up with the seventh inning stretch favorite:

Who are you root, root, rooting for?