Other Business

http://www.sxc.hu/photo/698003

In 1985, as the U.S. Senate was considering whether to declare the rose America’s national flower, Sen. Howell Heflin (D-Ala.) read out a seven-verse poem in support of the measure:

Marigolds and dogwood,
Camellias and more,
All flowers are beautiful
And made to adore.

But today there are deficits,
And farm bills and trade,
Aren’t these the subjects
On which decisions should be made?

Still, if on a nation’s flower
A few moments we spend,
We might be refreshed and
Come down to Earth again.

Besides, to select a flower
As America’s might not be bad,
Because I sure don’t want
To make the garden clubs mad.

But all flowers are delicate.
Each can refresh and amuse,
And that is the reason
I feel no flower should lose.

Still the rose is universal,
Its support has a strong voice,
So there should be no question
That the rose is the choice.

So let us raise our voice and
Proclaim with all our power
That the rose is more than beautiful —
It is “America’s Flower.”

Sen. Bennett Johnston (D-La.), who sponsored the joint resolution, replied in kind:

Roses are red,
Violets are blue,
Heflin should be
A co-sponsor of this bill too.

Ronald Reagan signed the measure into law the following year.

(Thanks, Sam.)

“Elegy”

“To the memory of Miss Emily Kay, cousin to Miss Ellen Gee, of Kew, who died lately at Ewell, and was buried in Essex.”

Sad nymphs of U L, U have much to cry for,
Sweet M L E K U never more shall C!
O S X maids! come hither and D 0,
With tearful I, this M T L E G.

Without X S she did X L alway,
Ah me! it truly vexes 1 2 C
How soon so D R a creature may D K,
And only leave behind X U V E!

Whate’er 1 0 to do she did discharge,
So that an N M E it might N D R:
Then why an S A write? — then why N
Or with my briny tears B D U her B R?

When her Piano-40 she did press,
Such heavenly sounds did M N 8, that she
Knowing her Q, soon 1 U 2 confess
Her X L N C in an X T C.

Her hair was soft as silk, not Y R E,
It gave no Q, nor yet 2 P to view:
She was not handsome; shall I tell U Y?
U R 2 know her I was all S Q.

L 8 she was, and prattling like a J;
How little, M L E! did you 4 C,
The grave should soon M U R U, cold as clay,
And you shall cease to be an N T T!

While taking T at Q with L N G,
The M T grate she rose to put a :
Her clothes caught fire — no 1 again shall see
Poor M L E, who now is dead as Solon.

O L N G! in vain you set at 0
G R and reproach for suffering her 2 B
Thus sacrificed; to J L U should be brought,
Or burnt U 0 2 B in F E G.

Sweet M L E K into S X they bore,
Taking good care the monument 2 Y 10,
And as her tomb was much 2 low B 4,
They lately brought fresh bricks the walls to 10.

— Horace Smith, in A Budget of Humorous Poetry, 1866

(This is a bit more recondite than the Ellen Gee poem. “D 0” is decipher, “1 0 to” is one ought to, N is enlarge, 10 is heighten, and “X U V E,” I am pleased to understand, is exuviae, “an animal’s cast or sloughed skin.” Let’s hope it stopped here.)

A Hidden Puzzle

Lewis Carroll sent this poem to Mabel and Emily Kerr on May 20, 1871. He titled it “A Double Acrostic” — but where is the acrostic?

Thanks, thanks, fair Cousins, for your gift
So swiftly borne to Albion’s isle —
Though angry waves their crests uplift
Between our shores, for many a league!

(“So far, so good,” you say: “but how
Your Cousins?” Let me tell you, Madam.
We’re both descended, you’ll allow,
From one great-great-great-grandsire, Noah.)

Your picture shall adorn the book
That’s bound, so neatly and moroccoly,
With that bright green which every cook
Delights to see in beds of cauliflower.

The carte is very good, but pray
Send me the larger one as well!
“A cool request!” I hear you say.
“Give him an inch, he takes an acre!

“But we’ll be generous because
We well remember, in the story,
How good and gentle Alice was,
The day she argued with the Parrot!”

Lewis Carroll

The last word in each stanza is a red herring. Replace each with the proper rhyme and then list these five words:

Mile
Adam
Broccoli
Ell
Lory

Their first and last letters spell MABEL and EMILY.

Skyward

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:An_Incident_on_the_Western_Front_Art.IWMART2660.jpg

An aviators’ drinking song from World War I, from James Gilbert’s 1978 anthology Skywriting:

A young aviator lay dying
At the end of a bright summer’s day.
His comrades had gathered around him
To carry his fragments away.

The aeroplane was piled on his wishbone,
His Lewis was wrapped round his head,
He wore a spark plug in each elbow,
‘Twas plain he would shortly be dead.

He spat out a valve and a gasket
As he stirred in the sump where he lay,
And then to his wondering comrades
These brave parting words did he say:

“Take the manifold out of my larynx
And the butterfly valve off my neck.
Remove from my kidneys the camrods;
There’s a lot of good parts in this wreck.

“Take the piston rings out of my stomach,
And the cylinders out of my brain.
Extract from my liver the crankshaft,
And assemble the engine again.

“Pull the longeron out of my backbone,
The turnbuckle out of my ear,
From the small of my back take the rudder —
There’s all of your aeroplane here.”

Art and Science

A reader passed this along — in a lecture at the University of Maryland (starting around 34:18), Douglas Hofstadter presents Napoleon’s theorem by means of a sonnet:

Equilateral triangles three we’ll erect
Facing out on the sides of our friend ABC.
We’ll link up their centers, and when we inspect
These segments, we find tripartite symmetry.

Equilateral triangles three we’ll next draw
Facing in on the sides of our friend BCA.
Their centers we’ll link up, and what we just saw
Will enchant us again, in its own smaller way.

Napoleon triangles two we’ve now found.
Their centers seem close, and indeed that’s the case:
They occupy one and the same centroid place!

Our triangle pair forms a figure and ground,
Defining a six-edgéd torus, we see,
Whose area’s the same as our friend, CAB!

(Thanks, Evan.)

“The Man in the Moon”

http://www.sxc.hu/photo/601286

Phil Rizzuto’s digressive speaking style earned him a faithful following during his 40-year career as announcer for the New York Yankees. In 1993, Tom Peyer and Hart Seely found that the announcer’s disjointed speech worked exceptionally well as found poetry, and they edited a collection titled O Holy Cow! The Selected Verse of Phil Rizzuto. Here’s a sample: the announcer’s thoughts on the death of Yankees catcher Thurman Munson in an airplane crash:

The Yankees have had a traumatic four days.
Actually five days.
That terrible crash with Thurman Munson.
To go through all that agony,
And then today,
You and I along with the rest of the team
Flew to Canton for the services,
And the family …
Very upset.

You know, it might,
It might sound a little corny.
But we have the most beautiful full moon tonight.
And the crowd,
Enjoying whatever is going on right now.
They say it might sound corny,
But to me it’s like some kind of a,
Like an omen.

Both the moon and Thurman Munson,
Both ascending up into heaven.
I just can’t get it out of my mind.
I just saw the full moon,
And it just reminded me of Thurman Munson,
And that’s it.

Plain Value

http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Euclid.jpg

Higgledy-piggledy
Euclid Geometer
Pained by the asking of
“What is the use

Studying the doctrines so
Axiomatical?”
Answered acutely, “Oh,
Don’t be obtuse!”

— Anthony Harrington

“An Aeronaut to His Love”

http://www.freeimages.com/photo/love-message-1317117

In Patterns of Poetry (1986), Miller Williams writes, “Fourteen words have rarely done such duty as in the following sonnet, which differs from the traditional form only in not having ten syllables per line and in the combining of the Italian octave and the Shakespearean sestet”:

I
Through
Blue
Sky
Fly
To
You.
Why?
Sweet
Love,
Feet
Move
So
Slow.

— Anonymous

Memorial

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Howard_Phillips_Lovecraft_in_1915_(2).jpg

I just stumbled across this — in May 1938 Weird Tales published an “acrostic sonnet” by H.P. Lovecraft:

Eternal brood the shadows on this ground,
Dreaming of centuries that have gone before;
Great elms rise solemnly by slab and mound,
Arch’d high above a hidden world of yore.
Round all the scene a light of memory plays,
And dead leaves whisper of departed days,
Longing for sights and sounds that are no more.

Lonely and sad, a spectre glides along
Aisles where of old his living footsteps fell;
No common glance discerns him, tho’ his song
Peals down thro’ time with a mysterious spell:
Only the few who sorcery’s secret know
Espy amidst these tombs the shade of Poe.

The lines’ initial letters spell out EDGAR ALLAN POE.