February 14, 2015
More than a catbird hates a cat,
Or a criminal hates a clue,
Or the Axis hates the United States,
That’s how much I love you.
I love you more than a duck can swim,
And more than a grapefruit squirts,
I love you more than gin rummy is a bore,
And more than a toothache hurts.
As a shipwrecked sailor hates the sea,
Or a juggler hates a shove,
As a hostess detests uninvited guests,
That’s how much you I love.
I love you more than a wasp can sting,
And more than the subway jerks,
I love you as much as a cripple needs a crutch,
And more than a hangnail irks.
I swear to you by the stars above,
And below, if such there be,
As the High Court loathes perjurious oaths,
That’s how much you’re loved by me.
–Ogden Nash (1902-1971)
August 6, 2014
Alfred Tennyson was born in Lincolnshire on August 6, 1809. He knew from a very young age that he wanted to be a poet, but the road was never easy for him. Throughout much of his life he was plagued with poor health; mental illness, seizure disorders, and alcoholism seem to have run in his family. He was dogged by financial difficulties, exacerbated by his penchant for making very bad investments with what little money he had. But through it all, he continued to write. He was approaching middle age by the time he began to find success as a poet.
Tennyson’s better-known poems include Idylls of the King, a retelling of the stories of King Arthur and his knights; “The Charge of the Light Brigade,” about a British cavalry charge against Russian forces during the Crimean War; and the book-length poem In Memoriam A.H.H., which Tennyson composed over a period of seventeen years after the sudden and unexpected death of his best friend, Arthur Henry Hallam.
“Crossing the Bar” is not the last poem that Tennyson wrote, but it’s usually the final one in every collection of his poetry, since that was his express wish. Unlike the very long In Memoriam, in which Tennyson explores in detail his loss, grief, anguish, and crisis of faith after the death of his dearest friend, “Crossing the Bar” is very short and succinct: a calm acceptance of his own approaching death, and the quiet, confident hope that when it arrives, he will see his Pilot face to face.
Here is “Crossing the Bar” set to music, sung by the Hopeful Gospel Quartet.
May 1, 2014
It was the first of May
A lovely warm spring day
I was strolling down the street in drunken pride;
But my knees were all a-flutter,
And I landed in the gutter
And a pig came up and lay down by my side.
Yes, I lay there in the gutter
Thinking thoughts I could not utter
When a lady passing by did softly say:
“You can tell a man who boozes
By the company he chooses” —
And the pig got up and slowly walked away.
September 5, 2013
From Cairo to Damascus,
From Riyadh to Bahrain,
Each time Obama dithers
He makes his weakness plain.
He cannot make decisions.
He knows not how to act.
His strategies are hopeless,
His tactics inexact.
He starts with senseless bluster.
He draws a scarlet line.
He lays a demarcation,
And waves his sharpened tine.
Upon his foe’s traversal,
His rhetoric is stilled.
His promises are broken,
His words lie unfulfilled.
His enemies are strengthened,
His allies left impaired.
He weaves a rope of bombast,
And leaves himself ensnared.
Copyright 2013 by The Bard of Murdock. Used with permission.