Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Cultural Literacy Night...

I am sure that all of my readers are familiar with the poem "Horatius At The Bridge"*:
But the Consul's brow was sad, and the Consul's speech was low,
And darkly looked he at the wall, and darkly at the foe.
"Their van will be upon us before the bridge goes down;
And if they once might win the bridge, what hope to save the town?"

Then out spoke brave Horatius, the Captain of the Gate:
"To every man upon this earth, death cometh soon or late;
And how can man die better than facing fearful odds,
For the ashes of his fathers, and the temples of his Gods..."
However I am not certain that one can count one's self a True American if one is not aware of the companion verse, "A Ballad Of The Republic"...


*You are, are you not?

23 comments:

Casey M. said...

*Yes! On several occasions in my seven years of Latin class we even sang a song about good old Horatius Cocles. That's the first time I've seen someone else mention him.

bluesun said...

Well... ummm... I do now.

I plead public education, focused on math and physics!

Tam said...

I was surprised to find that some motorcycle riders actually had stereos, rather than reciting Kipling to themselves inside their helmets. ;)

Old NFO said...

Good one Tam, thanks!

Ed Foster said...

There was a time, long ago and far away in the deep deep south, when an amazed Yankee Navy Brat had to learn three stanzas of Horatius and recite them in class.

"He reeled, and on Herminius he leaned one breathing-space;
Then, like a wild-cat mad with wounds, sprang right at Astur's face.
Through teeth, and skull, and helmet, so fierce a thrust he sped,
The good sword stood a handsbreadth out behind the Tuscan's head".

Might not scan so well nowadays, but we had a General in the White House then, and a country filled with veterans.

global village idiot said...

I've read both, but as for me, I'll take the Scottish expat from the Yukon, R.W. Service for "biographical" poems.

Everyone knows "The Cremation of Sam McGee," but my personal favorite is "The Baldness of Chewed-Ear."

gvi

P.S. Tam, I was in Indy this week for Grand Lodge. Was that you I saw driving South past O'Reilly's downtown Monday evening?

Hammerbach said...

Tam, if you haven't read Silverlock, by John Myers Myers, you should...

Nathan said...

g.v.i. -- did we by any chance run into each other on Tuesday or Wednesday? Tuesday morning I was on credentials checking in Lodges634-768. Always glad to meet a brother.

Nathan said...

(And yes, Tam, I love "Casey at the Bat" :) )

Ken said...

Just posted the sequel, "Casey Chases a Knuckler," over at my place. Bill James is no Thayer, and certainly no Macaulay, but it's entertaining if you like watching hitters (and catchers, often enough) wave futilely at knuckleballs).

elmo iscariot said...

*You are, are you not?

I love when you post about Rome, because I can be all "I am, teacher, I am! Call on me!"

When you post about cars, I get that just-had-a-stroke look, and say "I have a silver car." ;)

Borepatch said...

I have to confess that I did not know the proper name of poem #2.

As to Horatius, I have to confess a period of confusion in Junior High School wondering why they used a van when clearly a deuce and half would have been more practical ...

@Hammerbach, I didn't think that Silverlock was a great read - perhaps a little precious - but it was great fun to see just how many literary allusions you could identify. I don't think that I was north of 75%, and may have been well shy of that.

PhilaBOR said...

"there is no joy in Mudville"

Now I know where that comes from.

Firehand said...

Ever see the cartoon Disney made of 'Ballad'?

I hasten to add, this was back before it became the Disney Crap Machine

Stretch said...

Best variation of The Ballad is:

http://www.angelfire.com/ak2/intelligencerreport/obama_at_bat.html

Borepatch said...

This history lesson is pretty funny:

http://thebigfatgreekblog.tumblr.com/post/23173813906/thebigfatgreekblog-ftalphaville

Hammerbach said...

@Borepatch - Admittedly, tastes vary. For me it caused the revival of my interest in the classics. I would not have known of Horatius at the bridge without it, nor many others. If you did recognize 75%, you would have done far better than most...

global village idiot said...

Nathan, I'm Senior Warden this year (don't know what possessed me to go back into the line again but there you go). Your "range" at Credentials was right within my Lodge's number (won't go further here) but you certainly ran into the Master of my Lodge for this year.

If you're working the Credentials next year for Founder's Day or G.L., we'll run into each other.

Fraternally,
gvi

RandyGC said...

I remember the first mention of Horatius I read when I was maybe 8. It was in a Sgt Rock comic during a discussion of how the PBI* all through history has had to dig in and make a stand when needed.

Which lead me to start looking it up during my next library trip.

Who says comic books aren't educational?

RandyGC said...

Ooops, forgot PBI= Poor Bloody Infantry

Rob K said...

I am a True American! "Casey..." is one of the best poems ever. I first encountered "Horatius at the Bridge" in the the writings of Jeff Cooper. I can't remember if it was "Cooper's Corner" in the back of Guns & Ammo, or the unabridged version "Cooper's Commentaries" online, but I immediately hied me hence and found a copy.

Anonymous said...

Local legend has it that 'Casey at the Bat' was set in my humble hometown. They even went so far as to rename the local minor league team the 'Mudville Nine' for a short while. The poem was basically our only claim to fame (unless you count 'Fat City' or the briefly famous Chris Isaak).

RabidAlien said...

Probably read that somewhere in highschool, but due to a leaky braincell, I've managed to purge most of the poetry we were forced to read. Some I remember (Robert W. Service, I've recently revisited, and will always remember the Spoon River Anthology...and who can forget "Jabberwocky"?), most I've forgotten. Gonna have to go back and re-read this one, though, thanks for the flashback!