Archive for July 2014

A World War I Poet: Wilfred Owen

It’s unbelievable that one-hundred years ago today, Austria-Hungary declared war on Serbia, effectively setting World War I in motion.

Here’s one of my favorite poems from that era, from a young British soldier named Wilfred Owen.

Anthem for Doomed Youth

What passing-bells for these who die as cattle?
— Only the monstrous anger of the guns.
Only the stuttering rifles’ rapid rattle
Can patter out their hasty orisons.
No mockeries now for them; no prayers nor bells;
Nor any voice of mourning save the choirs,—
The shrill, demented choirs of wailing shells;
And bugles calling for them from sad shires.

What candles may be held to speed them all?
Not in the hands of boys, but in their eyes
Shall shine the holy glimmers of goodbyes.
The pallor of girls’ brows shall be their pall;
Their flowers the tenderness of patient minds,
And each slow dusk a drawing-down of blinds.

Invoking the Name of Orel Hershiser, or Where’s Samuel L. Jackson When You Need Him?

Today, the dudes down the hallway from me were talking baseball, which was fine. I mean, I’m not a fan, but it’s okay. But for some reason, they chose to focus on discussing Orel Hershiser. 

Let me be more specific: Orel Hershiser was all they talked about. For nearly an hour, in raised, passionate voices.

It got worse. 

They kept referring to him by his first and last name, repeatedly, like it was a mantra, or as if one of them might have mistakenly thought the other was referring to some other guy named “Orel,” or even less likely, another dude called “Hershiser.” Was someone in another room playing an Orel Hershiser drinking game? How many times do you have to utter Orel Hershiser’s name before he appears, Beetlejuice-like, summoned from wherever he happens to be hanging at the moment?

More importantly, where had I left my headphones?

It occurred to me that I was being unreasonable. That thought came and went rather quickly.

Before long, I’d been Orel Hershised to the point where I was not only unable to get any work done, but I was beginning to fantasize that Samuel L. Jackson, as the character Jules Winnfield from Pulp Fiction, was going to pop by and make these gentlemen aware that they should change the topic.

You know, in that certain way Jules had of doing things like that.