Poetry on tumblr
I have a poetry tumblr: tjathurman.tumblr.com. Please follow it, if you like that sort of thing.
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Today I sat on a railway platform, eavesdropping on a conversation between two railwaymen. I learned from this that instructions have just come down from the powers that be to prepare for a royal funeral, by which they surmised was meant Philip. This will involve a week of extra trains to Windsor, for people who want to see him lying in state and sign his book, and corresponding changes along the line. There is some sort of plan to prevent trains stopping at Windsor if the place is gets crowded. The stationmaster at Windsor has been given a deadline to produce a plan to implement all this, and they have been promised they'll be told a full day before the media if he's given a short time to live: good luck keeping that quiet. Anyway, I thought you might like to know if you use the railways around here.
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"I went, as usual about this time, to hear F.D. Maurice preach at Lincoln's Inn. I suppose I must have heard him, first and last, some thirty or forty times, and never carried away one clear idea, or even the impression that he had more than the faintest conception of what he himself meant. Aubrey de Vere was quite right when he said that listening to him was like eating pea-soup with a fork, and Jowett's answer was no less to the purpose, when I asked him what a sermon which Maurice had just preached at the University was about, and he replied—'Well! all that I could make out was that today was yesterday, and this world the same as the next.'" - Sir Mountstuart Elphinstone Grant Duff (1829-1906)
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I have always been bothered by those adverts where some wrinkled person who was famous thirty years ago reminds you in a slow voice that you'll be needing funeral insurance one of these days. They're so bloody patronising. It's such a worry for your relatives if you don't have funeral insurance, and if you sign up for ours, we'll send you a carriage clock absolutely free, because we know what you like, you old fart, you like carriage clocks. That's your whole life right there, polishing and admiring your carriage clock, trying not to think about all the time you haven't got left.
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Grand Opening"I love that he's pictured standing under a sign saying Grand Opening. What a grand opening he is."
If I had a spinneret
If I ever meet the Wizard of Oz, I'll ask him to turn me into a spider. Here's a song about that.
I would hurry to the kitchen
with pedipalps a-twitching,
to see what I could get.
And when there I would eat all
the insides of every beetle,
if I had a spinneret.
And that's only the beginning;
it sets my head a-spinning
to see them in my net.
To the edge I would scarper
where I'd pluck it like a harper
if I had a spinneret.
Oh, I could catch the fly
that ventured near my web,
then another as the hunger starts to ebb.
I'd be an arthropod celeb.
And I'd tell the tale with recaps
from more than seven kneecaps
to everyone I met.
And I'd be the provider
of a web for every spider
if I had a spinneret.
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In my dream last night, the admirals came to tell Elizabeth I that the Spanish were invading, and she said, "Well, repel them." But as the admirals were leaving, she added, "Wait, come back. I have invented a submarine, and I think this would be the best chance to test it in action. I shall call it HMS GLORIOUS." So HMS Glorious was built, and Elizabeth insisted on being the pilot. It carried no torpedoes, for they had not been invented, but instead it had a sharp point at the front which was used to ram the Spanish ships (yes, you're welcome to give a Freudian reading to this). And as the Armada sank ship by ship, the sailors would cheer and say, "Well done, your Majesty! Er, I mean, well done, mysterious sailor whose name we forgot."
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in my head, scribbled down
This assassination plan
In nineteen sixty three
(Which was soon for Lyndon B.)
Involved a knoll and a rifleman
Who was (or was not) named Lee.
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"What do you think I fought for at Omaha Beach?"
In 2009, a WWII veteran named Phillip Spooner spoke to a committee of Maine lawmakers in support of equal marriage. In 2010, Melissa Dunphy set Spooner's words to music, winning the Simon Carrington Chamber Singers Composition Competition. This is that piece.
"Good morning, committee. My name is Phillip Spooner and I live at 5 Graham Street in Biddeford. I am 86 years old and a lifetime Republican and an active VFW chaplain ... I was born on a potato farm north of Caribou and Perham, where I was raised to believe that all men are created equal, and I've never forgotten that. I served in the U.S. Army, 1942-1945 ... I worked with every outfit over there, including Patton's Third Army. I saw action in all five major battles in Europe... I was in the liberation of Paris. (I have seen much, so much blood and guts, so much suffering, much sacrifice.) I am here today because of a conversation I had last June when I was voting. A woman ... asked me, "Do you believe in equality for gay and lesbian people?" I was pretty surprised to be asked a question like that. It made no sense to me. Finally I asked her, "What do you think I fought for at Omaha Beach?" For freedom and equality. These are the values that make America a great nation, one worth dying for. My wife and I did not raise four sons with the idea that our gay son would be left out. We raised them all to be hard-working, proud, and loyal Americans and they all did good."
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The King of the Boeotians
This is the song Eurydice's jailer sings to her in hell. As so often in Offenbach's "Orpheus in the Underworld", comic pathos abounds.
"When I was king of the Boeotians, my kingdom prospered far and wide,
Bounded only by the oceans, until one day I took ill and died.
I remember without emotion the crown from which I had to part,
For now your charms cause such commotion in the kingdom of my heart!
Oh, had I known these fond emotions when I was king of the Boeotians!
If I were king of the Boeotians, you would reign there by my side.
Ah, do not shudder at the notion! I was attractive... before I died.
And though I have not one promotion through the ranks of souls in hell,
No ghost could offer such devotion, or take the heart that means so well
Of the late king of the Boeotians, the former king of the Boeotians."
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