Independence Day Love Poem

Minneapolis Independence Day fireworks

INDEPENDENCE DAY

The wind and you played in my hair,
You lambent in the moon,
The night arranged as by design,
Mysteriously boon.

Afresh the breeze and warm our hands,
So lately introduced,
Traced so gently new found lands,
From tyranny aloosed.

While all around with fire and bang
Our freedom was proclaimed,
A nation’s liberty was meant,
To us, two hearts unchained.


(1982)

NOTES: We have our communal holiday traditions, and then we have our own, personal traditions.

I celebrate the Fourth of July as a double holiday. I’m proud and happy to honor our exceptional America and call it home.

And, it also warms my heart to remember the night I discovered my role in an on-going love story.

My personal affection for July Fourth goes back to 1982, when a young couple snuck to the roof of the Calhoun Beach Club in Minneapolis to watch the fireworks. This perch, high above Lake Calhoun, offered a 360 degree view of the entire Twin Cities area. You could see several fireworks displays from there, both near and far away.

Not gonna lie … best fireworks ever.

 

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July 4th Love Poem

July 4th fireworks in Minneapolis, Minnesota

INDEPENDENCE DAY

The wind and you played in my hair,
You lambent in the moon,
The night arranged as by design,
Mysteriously boon.

Afresh the breeze and warm our hands,
So lately introduced,
Traced so gently new found lands,
From tyranny aloosed.

While all around with fire and bang
Our freedom was proclaimed,
A nation’s liberty was meant,
To us, two hearts unchained.


NOTES:  I celebrate the Fourth of July as a double holiday.  I’m proud and happy to honor our exceptional America and call it home.

And, it also warms my heart to remember the night I discovered my role in an on-going love story.

My personal affection for July Fourth goes back to 1982, when a young couple snuck to the roof of the Calhoun Beach Club in Minneapolis to watch the fireworks.  This perch, high above Lake Calhoun, offered a 360 degree view of the entire Twin Cities area.  You could see several fireworks displays from there, both near and far away.

It was rather romantic.

Hippie haiku

Vintage college swimming pool
“Liberate the pool!”
We presumed naked meant free.
We didn’t know jack.


Notes

The year: 1970.

Location:  A liberal arts college with a reputation for being a little “out there” situated in the upper Midwest.

A delegation of hometown friends make a long journey up to pay a fall break visit to a group of their high school friends who inexplicably all had happened to enroll in the same Liberal Arts College with a Reputation for Being a Little “Out There.”

It’s great to see old friends.  Partying ensues.  Someone (remembering with fondness the skinny-dipping escapades back home in the bucolic farm ponds and rock quarries of west central Missouri) suggests that a group be formed to go “liberate the pool” on campus.

It seemed like such a good idea at the time.

The word goes forth through the hallways of the dormitories of the liberal arts college with a reputation for being a little out there.

A party is formed, and the pool is “liberated.”

The campus police are called, and the liberators are duly cited for their violations of civility.

I’m not saying who was, and who wasn’t actually there.  Or who was a participant, and who was just an observer.  Perhaps, you were not available, but you would have gone had you been available.  Perhaps, you were horrified at the mere suggestion.  Memories get fuzzy when seen through the gauzy veil of so many years.

But, I’ll let the following people explain to their families and descendants just what role they actually played that evening in the notorious Macalester College Skinny-Dipping Affair of 1970:

  • David DuBois
  • John Swisher
  • Marty Swisher
  • Rob Greenslade
  • Robert Lee Van Arsdale
  • Ann Heinzler
  • Sheri Fritz
  • Paul Thompson
  • Alison Williams Coulson
  • George Cossette
  • Becky Roberts Kabella
  • Alan Ballew

John Marquand, I’m pretty sure you were not along on that trip.  But if you had been, I’m also pretty sure you would have been right there with the other liberators.  This is your chance to set the record  straight.

 

Love poem for the Fourth of July

July 4th fireworks in Minneapolis, Minnesota
INDEPENDENCE DAY

The wind and you played in my hair,
You lambent in the moon,
The night arranged as by design,
Mysteriously boon.

Afresh the breeze and warm our hands,
So lately introduced,
Traced so gently new found lands,
From tyranny aloosed.

While all around with fire and bang
Our freedom was proclaimed,
A nation’s liberty was meant,
To us, two hearts unchained.


Notes

July Fourth holds special meaning for me.  I’m patriotic in the old fashioned way.  I still believe that America is exceptional, and has been an exceptional blessing to the world.

Our founding documents are exceptional in the history of mankind, and the men who wrote them were inspired by truly great ideas.

The big idea: That rights are given by God, and not some king or the government. That’s important, because what government gives, government can take away.  But the genius of the Founding Fathers was to see that our rights are granted by God, and thus “inalienable.”

I still get a lump in the throat when the national anthem is played.

But beyond this, my personal affection for July Fourth goes back to 1982, when a young couple snuck to the roof of the Calhoun Beach Club in Minneapolis to watch the fireworks.  This perch, high above Lake Calhoun, offered a 360 degree view of the entire Twin Cities area.  You could see several fireworks displays from there, both near and far away.

It was rather romantic.

Poetry strikes a blow against tyranny

Boris Johnson, former mayor of London
Former Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, just won a poetry contest for the best dirty limerick making fun of the president of Turkey.

My favorite story of the week proves that poetry need not always be moping about over lost love, or waxing ecstatic about a new sweetheart.

Sometimes poetry can strike at the weak underbelly of tyrants, and expose them to well-deserved ridicule.  It’s a story that should warm the hearts of freedom-loving people everywhere.

A few weeks ago, the president of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, blew a gasket over an offensive poem about him read on German TV by a German comedian.

Like tyrants everywhere, Erdogan just can’t take a joke.

He demanded Germany prosecute the comedian. As unbelievable as it sounds to us in America, where we enjoy the freedom of speech enshrined in the Bill of Rights, German Prime Minister Angel Merkel called for the German comedian to be charged under German law.

In response to the think-skinned Turkish dictator, and the weak-kneed German prime minister, the British publication, the Spectator, ran a poetry contest. The rules: basically, the best dirty limerick lampooning Erdogan wins.

There are a lot of political subtexts going on in this story, and you can read more about here.  In short, Turkey had once shown promise of evolving into a free, western-style democracy, but Erdogan has been amassing power, and is turning the country into an Islamist dictatorship, where blasphemers are punished, and objective journalists are jailed.

This is especially relevant as Turkey lobbies to join the European Union, while at the same time becoming more like a sharia-governed caliphate everyday.

The colorful and wild-haired Johnson, while retired as mayor, is currently leading the fight to get Britain out of the EU, and could run a strong campaign to be the next Prime Minister.  He reportedly dashed off his winning entry during and interview.  The poem got entered, and subsequently was named the winner.

For posterity, and the historical record, here is the text of Johnson’s prize-winning poem

There was a young fellow from Ankara
Who was a terrific wankerer
Till he sowed his wild oats
With the help of a goat
But he didn’t even stop to thankera.

Now, whatever you think about good taste, you’ve got to admit that’s one darn good dirty limerick.

Stephen Murray, the British writer and free-speech-advocate, who created the contest had this to say:

“I think it is a wonderful thing that a British political leader has shown that Britain will not bow before the putative Caliph in Ankara.  Erdogan may imprison his opponents in Ankara.  Chancellor Merkel may imprison Erdogan’s critics in Germany.  But in Britain we still live and breathe free.  We need no foreign potentate to tell us what we may think or say.  And we need no judge (especially no German judge) to instruct us over what we may find funny.”

Amen.  God save the Queen.  And don’t tread on me.

 

New Favorite Poem

My new favorite poem is in this book. It's by Theodore Roethke.

Guys, read this poem to your beloved

Poems get on my list of favorites for different reasons. Some are so sublime they make the list on the first ballot, like Gerard Manley Hopkins’ Pied Beauty. It may just be the perfect poem, in my humble opinion.

Other poems come along at just the right time, and hit me right where I’m at.  They earn a place on my list by virtue of good timing. Robert Frost’s Reluctance is one example.

Then, there are those poems I wish I had written myself …

I found one of these while on vacation.  Before I left, I threw a battered old collection of poems by Theodore Roethke in my carry-on bag.  I had just picked it up at my local used book store for 3 bucks.  It contains a real gem.

Apparently Roethke’s I Knew a Woman is quite well known.  Apparently, it pops up in anthologies all over the place.  The book’s introduction calls it “one of the most famous poems of our time.”  But thanks to my pitifully spotty education, I had failed to encounter it until now.

For your sake, I’ll copy the whole poem here:

I Knew a Woman

By Theodore Roethke (1908-1963)

I knew a woman, lovely in her bones,
When small birds sighed, she would sigh back at them;
Ah, when she moved, she moved more ways than one:
The shapes a bright container can contain!
Of her choice virtues only gods should speak,
Or English poets who grew up on Greek
(I’d have them sing in chorus, cheek to cheek.)

How well her wishes went!  She stroked my chin,
She taught me Turn, and Counter-turn, and Stand;
She taught me Touch, that undulant white skin;
I nibbled meekly from her proffered hand;
She was the sickle; I, poor I, the rake,
Coming behind her for her pretty sake
(But what prodigious mowing we did make).

Love likes a gander, and adores a goose:
Her full lips pursed, the errant note to seize;
She played it quick, she played it light and loose;
My eyes, they dazzled at her flowing knees,
Her several parts could keep a full repose,
Or one hip quiver with a mobile nose
(She moved in circles, and those circles moved).

Let seed be grass, and grass turn into hay:
I’m martyr to a motion not my own;
What’s freedom for?  To know eternity.
I swear she cast a shadow white as stone.
But who would count eternity in days?
These old bones live to learn her wanton ways:
(I measure time by how a body sways).

What makes me want to have written this poem?

It’s so full of life and love and good humor.  It’s original and clever.  I’ve never read anything quite like it.

Just take a look at that third line:  Ah, when she moved, she moved more ways than one.  If that’s not evocative, I don’t know what is!

But the 3 lines that rhyme rake, sake and make, cinch the deal.  The audacious metaphor contained in these lines warms the heart of this old farm boy.

The double meaning of the word rake, as both the farm implement and the profligate, is a wonderful pun.

(At least the poet gets to be the rake, and not the grass! Although he “nibbled meekly,” he gets to have a complementary role in the hay-making. He doesn’t just get mowed down by the sickle.

Another line that jumps off the page:  (She moved in  circles, and those circles moved.)

Then in the last stanza, the poet turns reflective.  He’s aware of his mortality, but grateful for knowing the love of this woman.  It somehow has allowed him a glimpse of eternity.

All in all, this is a wonderful poem to read to your beloved, especially on vacation. I can vouch for it.

I just wish  I had  written it, though!

A Haiku Prayer

Sunset over Liberty Bay, with flag at halfmast

Once upon a time,
when tyrants assailed the world …
there rose up heroes.