Friday, May 29, 2015

Who said it - Poetry

It’s been a while since we played the universe’s favorite game – Who said it? It’s a little different this time.  I give you the poem, found somewhere in my library, and you tell me who wrote it out of the four choices I give you. Really, there’s no reason you should know the answers to these questions and I wouldn’t do very well either, except on two.  But give it a shot.  If it was originally in a foreign language, of course I have the English translation.  Answers at the bottom and as usual I apologize for the sometimes odd formatting. It's over my head.

  1. This first one is about a future president’s  schoolmate, named Matthew, who went crazy in his late teens. When the poet returned as an adult to his home town, he found Matthew still alive and I guess wondered why. This is the first three and last stanza.
But here’s an object more of dread
Than ought the grave contains—
A human form with reason fled, mad-man wild
While wretched life remains.

Poor Matthew! Once of genius bright,
A fortune-favored child—
Now locked for aye, in mental night,
A haggard mad-man wild.
Poor Matthew! I have ne’er forgot
When first, with maddened will,
Yourself you maimed, your father fought,
And mother strove to kill;            
-  - -
O death! Thou awe-inspiring prince,
That keepst the world in fear;
Why dost thou tear more blest ones hence,
And leave him ling’ring here? 
  1.  Abraham Lincoln   b.  Thomas Jefferson  c.  William McKinley  d.  Franklin D. Roosevelt
O nature I do not aspire
To be the highest in thy quire,
To be a meteor in the sky
Or comet that may range on high,
Only a zephyr that may blow
Among the reeds by the river low. 

Give me thy most privy place
Where to run my airy race.
In some withdrawn unpublic mead
Let me sigh upon a reed,
Or in the woods with leafy din
Whisper the still evening in,
For I had rather be thy child
And pupil in the forest wild
Than be the king of men elsewhere
And most sovereign slave of care
To have one moment of thy dawn
Than share the city’s year forlorn.
Some still work give me to do                      
Only be it near to you.
  1. Robert E. Lee   b. Jeb Stuart  c. Ralph Waldo Emerson  D. Henry David Thoreau
Dear is my sleep, but more to be mere stone,
So long as ruin and dishonor reign.
To see naught, to feel naught, is my great gain;
Then wake me not; speak in an undertone.
  1. Ghengis Khan  b. Marcus Anthony   c. Michaelangelo  d. Einstein

That Gourd I’ll bear wherever I go
That name will be a charm
To nerve my arm ‘gainst ev’ry foe
And ev’ry foe disarm.
‘Mong those whom I can ne’er forget
(let none their worth gainsay)
I’ll prize thee dearest-fondest yet
My Bettie—far away.

       a.  Jeb Bush  b. Jeb Stuart  c. Robert E. Lee  d. Robert Burns

Roads go ever ever on,
Over rock and under tree,
By caves where never sun has shone,
By streams that never find the sea;
Over snow by winter sown,
And through the merry flowers of June,
Over grass and over stone,
And under mountains in the moon.
Roads go ever ever on
Under cloud and under star,
Yet feet that wandering have gone
Turn at last to home afar.
Eyes that fire and sword have seen
And horror in the halls of stone
Look at last on meadows green
And trees and hills they long have known.
               a. General William Sherman  b. Edgar Allan Poe  c.  Longfellow   d.  J.R.R. Tolkien


By one decisive argument,
Giles gained his lovely Kate’s consent
To fix the bridal day.
“Why such haste, dear Giles, to wed?
I shall not change my mind,” she said.
“But, then,” said he, “I may!” 
  1. Dashiell Hammett  b. Raymond Chandler  c. Richard Burton  d. Damon Runyon


How every member of Convention,
Tortures his brains and racks invention,
To blast good men and in their place
Foist knaves and fools with better grace:

O’erturn our happy constitution,
Reduce all order to confusion,
With want of laws make mankind groan,
And on their miseries raise a throne.

  1. Aaron Burr  b. Nathan Hale  c. Noah Webster  d. Ethan Allen

8)  I guess the author of this was practiced at deception. Not so nice for the husband, but a revealing poem. 
  1. Arrive before your husband. Not that I can
    See quite what good arriving first will do;
    But still arrive before him. When he’s taken
    His place upon the couch and you go too
    To sit beside him, on your best behavior,
    Stealthily touch my foot, and look at me,
    Watching my nods, my eyes, my face’s language;
    Catch and return my signals secretly.
    I’ll send a wordless message with my eyebrows;
    You’ll read my fingers’ words, words traced in wine.
    When you recall our games of love together,
    Your finger on rosy cheeks must trace a line.
    If in your silent thoughts you wish to child me,
    Let your hand hold the lobe of your soft ear;
    When, darling, what I do or say gives pleasure,
    Keep turning to and fro the ring you wear.
    When you wish well-earned curses on your husband,
    Lay your hand on the table, as in prayer.
    If he pours you wine, watch out, tell him to drink it;
    Ask for what you want from the waiter there.
    I shall take next the glass you hand the waiter,
    And I’ll drink from the place you took your sips;
    If he should offer anything he’s tasted,
    Refuse whatever food has touched his lips.
    Don’t let him plant his arms around your shoulder,
    Don’t rest your gentle head on his hard chest,
    Don’t let your dress, your breasts, admit his fingers,
    And—most of all—no kisses to be pressed!
    You kiss—and I’ll reveal myself your lover;
    I’ll say ‘they’re mine’; my legal claim I’ll stake.
    All this, of course, I’ll see, but what’s well hidden
    Under your dress—blind terror makes me quake.
                         a.King Solomon b.  Ovid   c.  Upton Sinclair   d.  LBJ 

What a piece of work is man!
How noble in reason!
How infinite in faculty!
In form, in moving, how express and admirable!
In action, how like an angel!
In apprehension, how like a god! 
            a. Shakepeare  b.  Milton  c.  Upton Sinclair  d.  Freud
In devil’s dungeon chained I lay
The pangs of death swept o’er me.
My sin devoured me night and day
In which my mother bore me.
My anguish ever grew more rife,
I took no pleasure in my life
And sin had made me crazy.
Then was the Father troubled sore
To see me ever languish.
The Everlasting Pity swore
To save me from my anguish.
He turned to me his father heart
And chose himself a bitter part,
His Dearest did it cost him.
Thus spoke the Son, “Hold thou to me,
From now on thou wilt make it.
I gave my very life for thee
And for thee I will stake it.
For I am thine and thou are mine,
And where I am our lives entwine,
The Old Fiend cannot shake it.”

  1. St. Paul  b. Martin Luther  c. Francis Scott Key  d. Martin Luther King, Jr.
  1. A.  Abe Lincoln.  I have no idea if he asked Matt how he was doing first before he wrote a poem wondering why he wasn’t dead.
  2. D.  Thoreau. One of my three favorite American prose authors. But not a great poet.
  3. C.   Michaelangelo, writing about his newly unveiled statue of Night, Michaelangelo decided to write his own. I’ve seen the statue. It’s worth a poem, and has an interesting story. For one, like other works of his, except for her breasts, her body is clearly that of a man – they even have sketches of males done by him for it. It is also argued by physicians that her left breast shows several indications of cancer, and that it seems to be deliberate (for which I have no opinion).
  4. B.   Jeb Stuart, writing of a young love. As good a calvary man as Jeb was, he did not outlive the war and, thankfully, did not become a full time poet.
  5. D.   J.R.R. Tolkien.  That’s right out of The Hobbit. It’s what Bilbo said on returning to The Hobbit after his long adventure. Gandalf, who was with him noted that he had changed quite a bit since they started out a year before.
  6. A.   Sounds like it would be a Damon Runyon thing, as it is comical. But, it was Dashiell Hammett. Though he had a long affair with the playwrite, Lillian Hellman, and they discussed marriage frequently, they never went down the aisle together.  Lucky for her as he was more than a handful. He was impossible.  At least he wasn’t so drunk that he showed her his poems along these lines.  Of course, he was married to another woman, and she and their children are who I feel sorry for.
  7. C.  Noah Webster.  Fascinating man. It almost sounds like he is chastising congress. But it was the opposite. If he was nothing else, he was all for the U.S. and against anyone most who challenged it – in the case of this poem, groups opposed to a congressional act to pay officers more money to make up for the depreciating currency after the Revolutionary War.
  8. D. LBJ, the cad, probably said as much to someone, but it was Ovid a long, long time ago.
  9. A. Shakespeare.  Hamlet. It was my gimme.
  10. B  Martin Luther.  Technically a hymn to be sung, but what’s the difference? I have been fascinated by Herr Luther for a long time. Not that I believe what he did, but he was a revolutionary figure nonetheless.


  1. Oh Jeez. Only 4 out of 10. Pitiful.

    1. I would not have done well either if I didn't know the answers. The only ones I would have been sure about were by Shakespeare and Tolkien.


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I started this blog in September, 2006. Mostly, it is where I can talk about things that interest me, which I otherwise don't get to do all that much, about some remarkable people who should not be forgotten, philosophy and theories (like Don Foster's on who wrote A Visit From St. Nicholas and my own on whether Santa is mostly derived from a Norse god) and analysis of issues that concern me. Often it is about books. I try to quote accurately and to say when I am paraphrasing (more and more). Sometimes I blow the first name of even very famous people, often entertainers. I'm much better at history, but once in a while I see I have written something I later learned was not true. Sometimes I fix them, sometimes not. My worst mistake was writing that Beethoven went blind, when he actually went deaf. Feel free to point out an error. I either leave in the mistake, or, if I clean it up, the comment pointing it out. From time to time I do clean up grammar in old posts as, over time I have become more conventional in my grammar, and I very often write these when I am falling asleep and just make dumb mistakes. It be nice to have an editor, but . . . .