Monday, May 18, 2015


by Edward Rowland Sill

     Before I get started here, I just want to state that I actually quite like this poem. It will not always be the case, as with "The Children's Hour," that works I make fun of are works I dislike. Heck, Shakespeare will probably end up on here one day (cuz fuck Romeo and Juliet).

This I beheld, or dreamed it in a dream: --

     We're off to a good start here! The man doesn't even know if this actually happened, or if he dreamed it. Either we've got some opium use going on, or Sill's got some majorly realistic dreams. Either way, this line is pure filler. It doesn't matter one bit if the events of the poem are supposed to have happened in real life or in the author's head. It's just a goddamned poem, we all know it's not really "real." You've only got three fucking stanzas here! If you must preface your poem with this kind of shit, pick which one you want the reader to temporarily believe, then write a better opening line that establishes that premise. Or, better yet, just get on with it!

There spread a cloud of dust along a plain;
And underneath the cloud, or in it, raged

     You're waffling again, Eddy. Underneath it, in it, who cares? Pick one, go with it, and stick to the point of the poem. You're distracting us with this "either this or that" crap.

A furious battle, and men yelled, and swords
Shocked upon swords and shields. A prince's banner
Wavered, then staggered backward, hemmed by foes.

     A reminder, for those of you not-so-familiar with 19th-century poetry: Princes are ALWAYS good guys. Even when the author is American. Kings can go both ways (though they are generally good), but princes are like fairies: glittery and perfect.

A craven hung along the battle's edge,
And thought, "Had I a sword of keener steel --
That blue blade that the king's son bears -- but this
Blunt thing!" --he snapped and flung it from his hand.
And lowering crept away and left the field.

     When I first read this, I was really hoping that that flung sword would serendipitously hit someone important, perhaps the aforementioned prince. Sorry to spoil your expectations, but no. It's not a Modernist poem. Also, dude, if your sword is blunt, sharpen it. Ain't nobody wants to deal with your pussy shit.

Then came the king's son, wounded, sore bestead,
And weaponless, and saw the broken sword,
Hilt-buried in the dry and trodden sand,
And ran and snatched it, and with battle-shout
Lifted afresh he hewed his enemy down,
And saved a great cause that heroic day.

     I understand that this poem is supposed to be all about using whatever you have at hand, making the best of a bad situation, hence the title and all.... but that pussy from the second stanza saved the day here. If he hadn't have gallantly chickened out, the prince would have had no sword, broken or otherwise, to stumble upon. He most likely would have been killed. Even if the craven fellow had found his balls and jumped into battle, most likely he would have quickly floundered and fallen, dropping his sword in a different spot where the valiant prince was not, thus resulting in the loss of the "great cause," whatever that may be.
     So, it seems the moral one could glean from this is something along the lines of, "If you know you're a worthless bastard, go ahead and chicken out! Someone else, someone inherently better than you, may very well pick up where you left off and do what you're naturally incapable of! It all works out in the end with you safe and sound, away from all the nastiness." Applying this unintended moral to the poem, I also notice a strong odor of Social Darwinism reeking from between the lines.

     And so it is that you can offend someone, somewhere, sometime, with anything and everything that comes out of your mouth or pen.

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