The More Loving One

From my earliest infatuation with poetry, the works of Wyston Hugh Auden have been my very favorite. While he was known for many great and artistic pieces of poetic literature, a select few of his poems have stood out to me immediately upon reading. I’ve said it before, if a piece of art makes me feel, makes me think, it will more than likely end up on my list of favorite things.

The poem The More Loving One is one of those works of art. It is a short, poignant poem about love or the lack of love returned, perhaps even an altogether indifferent response to a love declared. I won’t go into much more than that. But I will leave it here for you to enjoy.

Looking up at the stars, I know quite well
That, for all they care, I can go to hell,
But on earth indifference is the least
We have to dread from man or beast.

How should we like it were stars to burn
With a passion for us we could not return?
If equal affection cannot be,
Let the more loving one be me.

Admirer as I think I am
Of stars that do not give a damn,
I cannot, now I see them, say
I missed one terribly all day.

Were all stars to disappear or die,
I should learn to look at an empty sky
And feel its total dark sublime,
Though this might take me a little time.

Do Not Go Gentle Into That Goodnight

People that know me from way back when (like, high school kinda way back when) know that I’ve kinda always had a thing for poetry. I love reading it, I love writing it, I love analyzing it and interpreting it. I love when writers can capture a thought, a feeling or an emotion with the written word and convey it in a way that may seem to be one thing when in fact it is many, many things.

I also love poetry that stirs up thought and emotion within me. I have a few favorites that have always sparked me, like Sunday Morning by Wallace Stevens, Musee des Beaux Arts BY W.H. Auden and The Love Song of J. Alfred Profrock by T.S. Eliot. But there has always been one poem that has a different effect on me, one that leaves me throwing shadow punches and chanting “LET’S DO THIS THING!” to myself when I read it. That poem is Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night by Dylan Thomas.

This poem was written for his dying father and is in an uncommon format known as a villanelle. It screams of the final admonition of a son that will be losing his father shortly, an admonition in which he charges his father to not just accept the fate that is before him. It is a coming to grips with the inevitable, a catharsis if you will, in the life of a son that knows what is just around the corner for his father yet wants his father to fight on nonetheless.

I’m certain that when you read this you will understand what he is experiencing. And perhaps after you read it you’ll understand what it is that gets me so fired up when I read it.

Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

And you, my father, there on the sad height,
Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

The Charge of the Light Brigade

When the movie “The Blind Side” came out my wife and I went to see it. While I loved the story line of the movie, and the character portrayals in it, there was a subplot to it that really stood out to me.

In the movie, Michael Oher, the character on whom the story is based, was tasked with reading and dissecting an Alfred, Lord Tennyson poem called “The Charge of the Light Brigade”, a poem written about a band of soldiers in the 1850’s that literally rode into the face of death at the command of their superior even though he had made a mistake. They knew they were going to die, they knew it was going to be painful, they knew it was a lost cause. Yet they rode, because that is what soldiers do. Their role as soldiers gave them no latitude to question the motives or commands of their superior. They had pledged to follow him and his orders, and do that they did.

There is a story about life in this. There is also a story about parenting, marriage, education, work and every other aspect of your life that can sometimes catch you up in stress, anger, frustration or doubt. At the end of the day, whatever your role is – be it husband, father, president, stock clerk or son – you have a responsibility to fill that role with every ounce of your being. That is what those soldiers did. And that is what I choose to do daily.

I am currently embroiled in one of the greatest challenges in my personal life that I have ever experienced. To that end, I am resolved to do what’s right wholeheartedly throughout the entire ordeal. I absolutely need to. My wife needs me to. My kids need me to. My friends need me to. I need me to. Challenges, battles, sorrow and loss come. It happens. The true test of a man’s character, as I see it, is not his ability to handle those times but the manner in which he handles himself during those times. When faced with certain loss, certain death, certain pain, will you press on anyway?

The Charge Of The Light Brigade
by Alfred, Lord Tennyson
Written 1854

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!

Borrowed from http://www.nationalcenter.org/ChargeoftheLightBrigade.html

If, by Rudyard Kipling

Some things come at you hard and fast, and hit you in the face like a rush of ice cold water on a hot summer day. Others wrap their arms around you and tell you it’s going to be ok while coaxing you into a peaceful calm. Still others reach into the very core of who you are and add value – strength, courage, determination, resolve – to an otherwise broken and fragile being. This poem, by Rudyard Kipling, is one of those that just encourages and strengthens me.

If
Rudyard Kipling

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or, being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or, being hated, don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise;

If you can dream – and not make dreams your master;
If you can think – and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with triumph and disaster
And treat those two imposters just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to broken,
And stoop and build ’em up with wornout tools;

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breath a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: “Hold on”;

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with kings – nor lose the common touch;
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you;
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run –
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And – which is more – you’ll be a Man my son!

If you are interested in learning more about this poem or would like to socialize and connect with folks who have delved deep into this piece, check out All Things If, a blog dedicated to this poem.