Patriotic Songs for Our Newest National Protectors

It has been noted, on this blog and elsewhere, that the sense of national emergency over the last three weeks has been eerily reminiscent of various national security threats we’ve encountered in the last eight years.  The important difference, of course, is that the Army, Navy, Marines, and Air Force have been completely unable to help us out of this crisis.  Only Hank Paulson and Ben Bernanke could do anything about it.  They were kind enough to ask Congress for permission, but as we’ve noted, they went ahead with a back-door bailout anyway, even before Congress consented.

Now that Congress has ratified it, however, the new reality is that our economic security — and therefore, it is widely believed, our national security — now depends on a new part of the executive branch.  It seems only fair that this newest guarantor of our lives and our fortunes (though not, I think, our sacred honor) should have some patriotic songs to celebrate its important new role.

As you may have guessed, I have some modest suggestions, Read the rest of this entry »

The 140th Belmont Stakes: Big Brown, Up or Down?

Dead game filly Rags to Riches grinds down Horse of the Year Curlin in the stretch of the 2007 Belmont

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American War Poetry, Part VIII

Longtime readers of this blog may recall a seven-part series on American war poetry in the run-up to Memorial Day 2007. In one installment, I asked, “Has no poet dared to attempt in words what the famous photo on Iwo Jima captured for the world? Tony Barnstone‘s “Grace Under Pressure” isn’t exactly what I had in mind, but it’s moving in that direction and it’s a heckuva poem. Read the rest of this entry »

Mother’s Day in the Poetry Corner

Mothers’s Day takes us to the poetry corner for the third time this week. There is an unavoidable element of confession in passing along this particular poem. I sent it to my own mother, and — naturally — she absolved me. Read the rest of this entry »

Pentecost in the Poetry Corner

A few months ago, we said goodbye to Walter Burghardt, S.J. This is one of the poems I first read thanks to him, and it focuses on one of the themes that runs throughout the readings for the vigil of Pentecost and for Pentecost itself. Mother’s Day gets its own poem tomorrow, so on the vigil of Pentecost I give you Phyllis McGinley’s “In Praise of Diversity.” Read the rest of this entry »

Measure, Volume III

Volume III of Measure arrived recently and I just can’t say enough good things about it. If you like poetry in traditional meter, you really owe it to yourself to subscribe. (And starting this fall, there will be two issues per year.) Last year, I gave Reasonable Minds a sampling by featuring the winner of the Howard Nemerov Sonnet Award, but this year it’s one of the more whimsical runners-up that I can’t resist. In fact, I like this poem so much it’s likely to be the first of three trips to the poetry corner this week. This goes out particularly to you forty-somethings who have recently joined Facebook, or who have one of those round-numbered reunions coming up. Read the rest of this entry »

The 134th Kentucky Derby: It’s a Matter of Parity

Every year, despite thin credentials and limited demand, I write up my analysis of the Kentucky Derby.  It’s always been wrong, but I’d like to think it’s always been interesting.  In the past, I’ve circulated my tripe by email, but having been strongly encouraged not to do so this time around (a soft “NSFW” issue), I had to find another home for my hopeless equine blatherings.  My dear friend Granulous was kind enough to permit another digression on his blog.  So here we go!

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O Captain! My Captain!

It’s April 14, and on this day in 1865 Abraham Lincoln was assassinated at Ford’s Theater. His death the next morning stunned a nation that was still in the euphoria of Lee’s surrender to Grant less than a week earlier at Appomattox Court House.\

Because we know how the story ended, it’s hard for us to appreciate what it must have been like to be stuck there in the middle of it. Lee had already concluded before Appomattox that the Confederacy could not win, and Richmond had already fallen, but the Confederacy still had armies in the field and their orders from Jefferson Davis were to keep fighting. And fight they did — one of the armies kept fighting until June. Prolonged guerilla fighting was the scenario favored by Davis, and it was a very real possibility.

Many in the north favored harsh terms for the south anyway, and needed little encouragement. Fortunately, Lincoln’s almost obsessive insistence on doing everything possible to promote post-war reconciliation with the south was well known to men like Grant and Sherman, and they continued to carry out his vision even after his death. Without the powerful moral authority of his memory, things might have turned out much worse.

With gratitude for the life of Abraham Lincoln, we observe the occasion with a trip to the Poetry Corner, to reacquaint ourselves with Walt Whitman’s reflections on Lincoln’s death. Read the rest of this entry »

Eliot Spitzer and the Gospel of Matthew

I had not planned to write anything about the flame-out of Eliot Spitzer, largely because Schadenfreude is one of those things that tastes so good you know it must be bad for you. But as we move through the wave of “why would he do this?” articles, like this one in yesterday’s Washington Post, I wonder if we are overlooking one important factor, an explanation we might draw from the Gospel of Matthew, as unlikely as that seems. The answer is: Read the rest of this entry »

Valentine’s Day in the Poetry Corner

I’m on the road today, separated from my own valentines, so here is a bittersweet reflection on the day. Read the rest of this entry »

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