Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Choices, choices, choices.

'k guys. I'm trying to decide which poems to declaim for the Fair. They have to be related either by topic or author. Last year I did Scottish poets. This year I'm loosely using the topic of "Poetic Reflections on Character" (made by me).

I know I want to declaim:
How did you Die?

Those are the first three poems below and require about 5 minutes. I could fill two minutes more, but I can't decide which poem to add of the ones I've typed out below. My least favorite of the options below is Be Strong and I figure that Not in Vain is probably pretty 'run of the mill'. But I can't decide between Polonius' Advice to Laertes and Waiting. I like Waiting a little more, but I don't know whether good ole Polonius fits with the topic better. I need some advice.

So please speak up and declare to me your wisdom!

How Did You Die?
Edmund Vance Cooke

Did you tackle that trouble that came your way
With a resolute heart and cheerful?
Or hide your face from the light of day
With a craven soul and fearful?
Oh, a trouble's a ton, or a trouble's an ounce,
Or a trouble is what you make it,
And it isn't the fact that you're hurt that counts,
But only how did you take it?

You are beaten to earth? Well, well, what's that!
Come up with a smiling face.
It's nothing against you to fall down flat,
But to lie there--that's disgrace.
The harder you're thrown, why the higher you bounce
Be proud of your blackened eye!
It isn't the fact that you're licked that counts;
It's how did you fight--and why?

And though you be done to the death, what then?
If you battled the best you could,
If you played your part in the world of men,
Why, the Critic will call it good.
Death comes with a crawl, or comes with a pounce,
And whether he's slow or spry,
It isn't the fact that you're dead that counts,
But only how did you die?

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 worn-out 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!

Alice Cary
True worth is in being, not seeming,--
In doing, each day that goes by,
Some little good – not in dreaming
Of great things to do by and by.
For whatever men say in their blindness,
And spite of the fancies of youth,
There’s nothing so kingly as kindness,
And nothing so royal as truth.

We get back our mete as we measure –
We cannot do wrong and feel right,
Nor can we give pain and gain pleasure,
For justice avenges each slight.
The air for the wing of the sparrow,
The bush for the robin and wren,
But always the path that is narrow
And straight, for the children of men.

‘Tis not in the pages of story
The heart of its ills to beguile,
Though he who makes courtship to glory
Gives all that he hath for her smile.
For when from her heights he has won her,
Alas! it is only to prove
That nothing’s so sacred as honor,
And nothing so loyal as love!

We cannot make bargains for blisses,
Nor catch them like fishes in nets;
And sometimes the thing our life misses
Helps more than the thing which it gets.
For good lieth not in pursuing,
Nor gaining of great nor of small,
But just in the doing, and doing
As we would be done by, is all.

Through envy, through malice, through hating,
Against the world, early and late,
No jot of our courage abating –
Our part is to work and to wait.
And slight is the sting of his trouble
Whose winnings are less than his worth;
For he who is honest is noble,
Whatever his fortunes or birth.

Not in Vain
Emily Dickenson

If I can stop one heart from breaking,
I shall not live in vain:
If I can ease one life the aching,
Or cool one pain,
Or help one fainting robin
Unto his nest again,
I shall not live in vain.

Be Strong
Maltbie Davenport Babcock

Be strong!
We are not here to play, to dream, to drift;
We have hard work to do, and loads to lift;
Shun not the struggle – face it; ‘tis God’s gift.

Be strong!
Say not, “The days are evil. Who’s to blame?”
And fold the hands and acquiesce – oh shame!
Stand up, speak out, and bravely, in God’s name.

Be strong!
It matters not how deep intrenched the wrong,
How hard the battle goes, the day how long;
Faint not – fight on! Tomorrow comes the song.

John Burroughs

Serene, I fold my hands and wait,
Nor care for wind nor tide nor sea;
I rave no more ‘gainst time or fate,
For lo! my own shall come to me.

I stay my hast, I make delays –
For what avails this eager pace?
I stand amid the eternal ways
And what is mine shall know my face.

Asleep, awake, by night or day,
The friends I seek are seeking me,
No wind can drive my bark astray
Nor change the tide of destiny.

What matter if I stand alone?
I wait with joy the coming years;
My heart shall reap where it has sown,
And garner up its fruit of tears.

The waters know their own, and draw
The brook that springs in yonder height;
So flows the good with equal law
Unto the soul of pure delight.

The stars come nightly to the sky;
The tidal wave unto the sea;
Nor time, nor space, nor deep nor high,
Can keep my own away from me.

Polonius’ Advice to Laertes
(from Hamlet)
William Shakespeare

There, -- my blessing with you!
And these few precepts in thy memory
See thou character. –Give thy thoughts no tongue,
Nor any unproportion’d thought his act.
Be thou familiar, but by no means vulgar.
The friends thou hast, and their adoption tried,
Grapple them to thy soul with hoops of steel;
But do not dull thy palm with entertainment
Of each new-hatched, unfledged comrade. Beware
Of entrance to a quarrel; but being in,
Bear’t that the opposed may beware of thee.
Give every man thine ear, but few thy voice:
Take each man’s censure, but reserve thy judgment.
Costly thy habit as thy purse can buy,
But no expressed in fancy; rich, not gaudy:
For the apparel oft proclaims the man.
Neither a borrower nor a lender be,
For loan oft loses both itself and friend,
And borrowing dulls the edge of husbandry.
This above all: to thine own self be true,
Ad it must follow, as the night the day,
Thou canst not then be false to any man.


Nat said...

I think the Shakespeare does fit better. Though I have a harder time seeing it as poetry. This is a — weakness of me, that even with something as fantastically good as Shakespeare, if it's free verse, I feel that calling it poetry is just a way of saying it's very pretty or very colorful.

In all fairness, at the moment I cannot immediately recall a rendition of that Shakespeare bit (though I've seen one or two films versions of Hamlet), and there are certainly nuances to the performance of it that I cannot at the moment recall.

Snazel said...

I do agree, that the shakespeare fits with the theme slightly more. Though I do love Shakespeare, perhaps a little too much... Of the four, Waiting fits the second best though!

Aren't I helpful? ^_^