Trial Balloon

Another Classic Ruined

Posted at 6:12 AM on April 29, 2010 by Dale Connelly (31 Comments)
Filed under: Poetry

Radio Heartland has tickets to the Americana Showcase at the James J. Hill Reference Library in St. Paul, this Friday night at 7:30 pm. Featured performers: Dana Cooper, Brandon Sampson, David Stoddard and Dan Israel. We'll close entries at 1pm today.

Enter the drawing.
Obey the rules.
Good luck!

I did not see any of the Goldman Sachs executive's testimony before a Senate committee earlier this week, but I hear it was 10 hours of riotous fun. Unfortunately I don't have the kind of time necessary if one is devoted to understanding the intricacies of last years financial meltdown.

However, we're in luck. Billy Bovid Capra, a celebrated artist, a tenured professor of English at Barth College, and an actual he-goat who happens to write verse, did watch the event.

It took him a few days to digest the proceedings, but America's poet ungulate pushed this gem under my door early this morning.


IF Kipling Worked for Goldman Sachs

If you can keep your wealth when all about you 

Are losing theirs and blaming it on you; 

If you can say "I'm Fab" when all men doubt you,
And not be bothered by their shouting too;

If you can speak while subject to berating,
Or, being summoned, blithely testify
Or, being questioned, overlook the baiting,
With answers that don't undermine our guys;

If you can deal - and move the product faster;
If you can wink - and not reveal your game;
If you can claim you didn't cause disaster
And shrug when Senators assign you blame;

If you can hear your e-mails without chokin'
Twisted by knaves to justify more rules,
Or listen as your careless words are spoken
And keep your eyes as blank as stagnant pools

If you can make one heap of **itty dealings,
And sell it to some marks at hefty cost,
And when they lose, not let it hurt your feelings
And never think at all of what they've lost;

If you can face the unforgiving Senate 

With six hundred minutes of evasive fun - 

Yours is the mirth of those who hold this tenet:
"We'll do our thing - though it leaves you undone."

Have you ever memorized and recited a classic poem? How did it go?


Comments (31)

Good morning all. That is some poem. We need to hear more from Billy Bovid Capra. For more about Billy's topic I think the new film by Danny Schechter, Plunder, should be viewed. It is about how those guys on Wall Street should be held accountable for their crimes.

I'm not good with poems, but I like reading or hearing some of them. Memorizing poems is beyond me.

Posted by Jim | April 29, 2010 6:34 AM


Holy goat, is it possible I'm the first one on, or is something technical amiss?

That was stellar, Dale!

I had memorized the original If", and several others in school that I could possibly dredge up. But on my own:
When plied with wine at a party, I can recite:

Three rings for the Elvenkings under the sky
Seven for the Dwarf lords in their halls of stone
Nine for the mortal Men doomed to die
One for the dark Lord on his dark throne
In the land of Mordor where the shadows lie.
One ring to bring them all, one ring to find them
One ring to ____ them all and in the darkness bind them
In the land of Mordor where the shadows lie.

Posted by Barbara in Robbinsdale | April 29, 2010 6:37 AM


good morning, All -
Dale, you are amazing! er, i mean, Billy BC is amazing :-)

i can't remember or memorize much. would always forget at piano recitals. so, no, i can't recite much of anything (my address, my phone number). in college i took lots of chemistry and in biochem about 50% of the exam was memorization (Kreb's Cycle, etc.) and i always did miserably.

so i'm glad there are those of you who can remember things, recite for memory. it always is pleasing to hear, see that and admire the talent.

out for another busy day.
have fun
looks like we might get some rain soon - yippeee

Posted by barb in Blackhoof | April 29, 2010 6:41 AM


Greetings! As a theater major and having been in plays in high school, I used to be able to memorize entire scenes and plays. For auditions you had to have the requisite Shakespeare monologue and other general monologues in memory.

Alas, but no more. I have a hard time memorizing anything at this point -- even the katas or forms in karate take me months to memorize. Have a great day everyone!

Posted by Joanne in Big Lake | April 29, 2010 6:44 AM


In honor of the poet laureate of TB I have altered my memory piece

I've never seen a purple goat
I never hope to see one
But I can tell you one thing-I'd rather see than be one.

Have a great day!

Posted by Beth-Ann | April 29, 2010 6:49 AM


Greetings, everyone!

Few people in my age group got through high school without memorizing and reciting one poem or another. I used to have the ability to recall poems after having read them a few times, but now I have to remember too much real life information.

I started writing poetry when I was eight years old, right after I had learned about and started reading the Shakespeare sonnets. Not surprisingly, my poems were a poor attempt at iambic pentameter and were all about love, even though I had no real life experience with love, of course. I graduated to writing about real life when I won a little Weekly Reader contest with a poem I had written about my running shoes and all the places they had been, which portended a lot about my future, I guess. While I've had a few poems published in literary journals, I've mostly given up writing, but I still like to memorize, or at least memorize parts of, poems. I am especially fond of the poetry by Andrew Marvell, John Donne, John Berryman, and Wallace Stevens.

Posted by elinor | April 29, 2010 6:54 AM


If memory serves, and it usually doesn't, here's one I recited in 3rd grade:

If you should meet a crocodile
Don't take a stick and poke him
Ignore the welcome in his smile
Be careful not to stroke him.

For as he sleeps upon the Nile
He thinner gets, and thinner
And whenever you meet a crocodile
He's ready for his dinner.

One of my favorite poems is Stopping by Woods on Snowy Evening, and sometimes when I send my daughter in Namibia emails, I sign off with a variation of Frost's final line. The last one went, "better go - it's getting late and I have promises to go and miles to keep before I drink my glass of wine that will aid my slumber."

Posted by Donna | April 29, 2010 7:11 AM


i am pretty good at using memorazation tricks to get me past an exam on stuff like that but to make it stick is another story. song lyrics for some reason are another story.


then take me disappearin' through the smoke rings of my mind
down the foggy ruins of time, far past the frozen leaves
the haunted, frightened trees, out to the windy beach
far from the twisted reach of crazy sorrow
yes, to dance beneath the diamond sky with one hand waving free
silhouetted by the sea, circled by the circus sands
with all memory and fate driven deep beneath the waves
let me forget about today until tomorrow

thats my classic poetry

Posted by tim | April 29, 2010 7:13 AM


Yes, excellent poem, Billy.

The last poem I memorized was a Yeats poem when in Ireland on a tour with Robert Bly. He made me do it....well, we all had to recite a poem with the Connemara seaside outside the window. Can't remember it now...it was about an old man...something about his heart breaking over being old...or, was it?

This past weekend I read a poem by a Norwegian poet (in English, mind you, a friend fluent in the language read the Norsk version)...I had practiced it enough I was close to memorizing...I can remember lines, but not the entire thing.

Learning norsk vocabulary is testing the memory banks pretty hard...Heard this morning on the news that they no longer think doing mind puzzles will help stave off Alzheimer's. (Tell me I heard wrong!)

Happy Thursday!

Posted by cynthia in mahtowa | April 29, 2010 7:31 AM


i bet the connemara with robert bly was a kick. i love that part of the world.
i think the mind puzzles still apply to the use it or loose it theory where they help keep your brain clicking right along but when the alzheimers chemicals kick in its not laziness that is the culprit, it 's science not staying in physicaly good shape won't keep you from getting cancer but it will make your life better while you are here, kind of a deal.

Posted by tim | April 29, 2010 7:39 AM


I have memorized poetry off and on for a variety of classes (and like Joanne, memorized things for plays - Shakespeare makes more sense when it's spoken than read silently, I think). A lot of that poetry has disappeared into the mists of time. Puck's final monologue from "Midsummer Night's Dream" has mostly stuck with me though, as well as "Jabberwocky" from the loopy Lewis Carroll.

'Twas brillig in the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe
All mimsy were the borogroves
And mome the wraths outgrabe...

(With apologies for slaughtering spellings - it's in my head as sounds, not letters.)

Posted by Anna | April 29, 2010 7:40 AM


...wonder what people would think at work if I quoted the bit about "one two and through and through his vorpal blade went snicker snack...". Might be a "career limiting move." Darn it.

Posted by Anna | April 29, 2010 7:45 AM


Most folks my age have memorized an Odgen Nash poem or two.

A primal termite knocked on wood
And tasted it and found it good.
And that is why your cousin May
Fell through the parlor floor today.

Posted by Tim Goetsch | April 29, 2010 7:55 AM


e.e. cummings

i thank You God for most this amazing
day:for the leaping greenly spirits of trees
and a blue true dream of sky;and for everything
wich is natural which is infinite which is yes

(i who have died am alive again today,
and this is the sun's birthday;this is the birth
day of life and love and wings:and of the gay
great happening illimitably earth)

how should tasting touching hearing seeing
breathing any-lifted from the no
of all nothing-human merely being
doubt unimaginable You?

(now the ears of my ears awake and
now the eyes of my eyes are opened)

Posted by patricia | April 29, 2010 8:08 AM


Yes, Tim G., absolutely! I used to tease my dad with this one:

The Hunter crouches in his blind
'neath camoflage of every kind
And conjures up a quacking noise
To lend allure to his decoys.
This grown-up man, with pluck and luck
Is hoping to outwit a duck!

Posted by Barbara in Robbinsdale | April 29, 2010 8:13 AM


Nice, Patricia. I don't remember all of this, but also by e.e.:

Sweet springtime is my time is your time is our time for springtime is love time and viva sweet love.

Posted by Barbara in Robbinsdale | April 29, 2010 8:18 AM


I keep a couple of Shel Silverstein poems tucked away in my brain for emergency puposes.

Posted by That Guy in the Hat | April 29, 2010 8:28 AM


Never have memorized any poetry... didn't woo my wife with Shakespeare sonnets either...

I do have some tongue twisters memorized-- this one I learned in 10th grade speech class; had to say it twice- clearly- in one breath:

Betty Batter Bought some butter, but, said she, this butter's bitter. If I bought some better butter and I put the better butter in the bitter batter, I could make the bitter batter better.

Or this warm up exercise:

"She stood on the balcony inexplicably mimicking his hiccuping while amicably welcoming him home."

I think maybe Garrison said that once... not sure anymore...

Tim-- I appreciated your quote yesterday about Irishman screaming into battle...

Posted by Ben | April 29, 2010 8:35 AM


Excellent poem, Dale. This guy should be the next MN Poet Laureate.

We were in seventh grade when we were required to memorize and recite a patriotic poem in front of the class. The poem a dorky, earnest thing that was supposed to inspire us to love our country.

Breathes there a man with soul so dead / who ne’er to himself hath said/ this is my own , my native land/ Whose heart hath ne'er within him burned as home his footsteps he hath turned/ from wandering on a foreign strand/ If there such breeds / Mark him well/ For him no minstrel rapture swells/

It was sappy and silly. And we were sniggering, hyper-hormoned seventh graders. By an evil twist of fate, one of the first kids to deliver his oration was Dean Bailey. Out of Dean’s mouth came the words, “For him no ruptured minstrel swells.”

The class just blew up. Kids laughed until their faces got red and tears came down their cheeks. Kids laughed until snot came out their noses. Some kids laughed until they got weak and rolled out of their desks to lie on the floor shaking, helpless to get up. Teachers in nearby classes ran down the halls to help quell the riot.

That wasn’t the worst of it.

The worst of it was that after Dean had delivered his really really memorable version of the poem, another 20 kids had to stand up in front of the class and recite the poem. Those 20 kids were sitting in their seats thinking madly to themselves, “I’m not gonna say ruptured minstrel! Oh, please God, don’t let me say ruptured minstrel!”

It is the old problem: try to NOT think about a white horse. By the time the other kids delivered their lines, full of stage fright, it was almost impossible to say the poem right.

Posted by Steve in Saint Paul | April 29, 2010 8:42 AM


When I was younger and in theatre, I used to have lots more memorized and as a kid, I also memorized "On The Way to Sola-Sollew" by Dr. Seuss on a vacation road trip. Today the only thing I can dredge up is by Piet Hein:

Timing Toast

There's an art to doing it;
Never try to guess.
Toast until it smokes;
Then 20 seconds less

Posted by sherrilee | April 29, 2010 8:55 AM


Dale . . . what a divine song, that waltz by Peter Ostroushko! One of the prettiest things I've ever heard.

Posted by Steve in Saint Paul | April 29, 2010 8:59 AM


Just remembered another. I was in an elocution class that made me recite this one about "The Ant" by Ogden Nash.

The ant has made herself illustrious
By constant industry industrious.
So what? Would you be calm and placid
If you were full of formic acid?

Posted by Steve in Saint Paul | April 29, 2010 9:31 AM


I agree Steve.
We'll have an interview with Peter Ostroushko tomorrow (Friday) morning!

Posted by Dale Connelly | April 29, 2010 9:31 AM


Yes, TGITH - there's Sara Sylvia Cynthia Stout, who would not take the garbage out...

I still have a book of nonsense poems that was one of my young son's favorites. It's illustrated by Wallace Tripp, so it's already funny just looking at the pictures. The title poem:
As I was standing in the street/As quiet as could be/A great big ugly man came up/And tied his horse to me.

Have a good day, y'all.

Posted by Barbara in Robbinsdale | April 29, 2010 10:07 AM


Listeners:

Due to a JASPER error, today's "Dale Connelly Show" did not record. What you're hearing is yesterday's show.

JASPER apologizes. I apologize. Dale says, "That's too bad...I liked today's show."

Stay with us!

Posted by Mike Pengra | April 29, 2010 11:05 AM


Apparently JASPER wants us to keep crying......

boo hoo....these are the 3 that got me yesterday!

Posted by Kate in Eden Prairie | April 29, 2010 11:42 AM


Whatever happened to the recording of the musical version of Sara Sylvia Cynthia Stout...it's my theme song!!! Garrison played it on the early (so long ago) Morning Show.

Thanks for reminding me, Barbara in Robbinsdale. Love that Shel Silverstein.

Posted by cynthia in mahtowa | April 29, 2010 11:43 AM


Anna...no spelling rules govern the Brillig in the Wabes...good job for remembering it. I used to read it to my second grade classes.

Posted by cynthia in mahtowa | April 29, 2010 11:45 AM


Anna & Cynthia....

I met my husband in 1973 in an acting class where he got up in front of the class and recited the Jabberwocky, that's one of my very first memories of him.
And he can still remember it word for word.

Posted by Kate from Eden Prairie | April 29, 2010 11:56 AM


Well, Kate, what's not to love about a guy who knows about the "frumious bandersnatch?"

I tried to convince Daughter to bring it is as a poem to share with her class just last week when they were studying poetry - alas, she picked another. (Couldn't even convince her on a couple of my favorite Shel Silversteins...clearly I have done something wrong in my parenting...)

Posted by Anna | April 29, 2010 12:39 PM


Anna - what did she end up choosing? (I'm always curious for more infomation about little girls - always wanted one...)

Posted by Barbara in Robbinsdale | April 29, 2010 4:42 PM


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