Go Around Inspired

Today’s challenge from Word of the Day: INSPIRING

Ah! How can I neglect such an easy prompt when I find so many things around to inspire me? Lately I’ve been “creating” several songs for our school children, taking some old forgotten tunes and writing new words — or some old poems and setting them to a tune. I found this inspiring poem last night, and think the first verse might make and nice school song.

If You Can’t Go Over or Under, Go Round

by Joseph Morris
(born 1889)

A baby mole got to feeling big,
And wanted to show how he could dig;
So he plowed along in the soft, warm dirt
Till he hit something hard, and it surely hurt!
A dozen stars flew out of his snout;
He sat on his haunches, began to pout;
Then rammed the thing again with his head–
His grand-pap picked him up half dead.
“Young man,” he said, “though your pate is bone.
You can’t butt your way through solid stone.
This bit of advice is good, I’ve found:
If you can’t go over or under, go round.”

A traveler came to a stream one day,
And because it presumed to cross his way,
And wouldn’t turn round to suit his whim
And change its course to go with him,
His anger rose far more than it should,
And he vowed he’d cross right where he stood.
A man said there was a bridge below,
But not a step would he budge or go.
The current was swift and the bank was steep,
But he jumped right in with a violent leap.
A fisherman dragged him out half-drowned:
“When you can’t go over or under, go round.”

If you come to a place that you can’t get through,
Or over or under, the thing to do
Is to find a way round the impassable wall,
Not say you’ll go YOUR way or not at all.
You can always get to the place you’re going,
If you’ll set your sails as the wind is blowing.
If the mountains are high, go round the valley;
If the streets are blocked, go up some alley;
If the parlor-car’s filled, don’t scorn a freight;
If the front door’s closed, go in the side gate.
To reach your goal this advice is sound:
If you can’t go over or under, go round!

NOTE:

This was published in the 1920s in the book, Poems of Inspiration, which has lately been reprinted. You are one who enjoys these upbeat old poems, here’s the Amazon link.

Wars, Words and Testy Judges

Back in the mists of ancient history a Norman army from France crossed the English Channel and battled the Anglo kings at Hastings.

Back then the Brits lacked a BBC and a Winston Churchill to rally the troops with:
“We’ll fight them at sea and we’ll fight them on land; we’ll fight them in the fields and we’ll fight them in the ditches…etc. We will never surrender.” In those days of poor communications one doubts there was any kind of significant country-wide clarion call of “Rally the troops!

Consequently the Normans took control of England. Lacking a successful counter attack and rout by the inhabitants, they claimed everything, grabbed all the castles, fortresses and whatever other good stuff they spied— as invaders are wont to do. They settled down to enjoy the spoils and make the Anglo-Saxons work for them.

They brought with them many weapons of war — and their language. There began at this point a steady trickle of French into the Saxonized English of the day:
“Non, non, stupide anglaise chef! Quelle offence! Such ignorance. This is NOT a spitted cow. This is a roti de BOEUF. And this is NOT pig. Non, non, this is PORC. We do not have zee PIG to feed us at our table!”

The phlegmatic cook, having sprung from an old English “Farmer in the dell” lineage, hadn’t adopted the Saxon swine yet — which was just as well. She didn’t do so well with roti de boeuf, either, and slurred it to roast beef. She was pleased, though, to be elevated from cook to chef. (Wouldn’t you be?)

Fast forward almost a millennium, to where a Yank calling himself Fandango gives us the word prompt: PENDING.

Thus today we’re prompt-writing about this word, originally forced onto the French by the Roman conquerors of Gaul, then delivered via the sword and the trickle to the Brits. As Norman rule was suspendu over Britain, this word slowly wormed its way into the emerging English language. By now it’s established itself in oodles of English subdivisions — much like Norman DNA in general. And from there it’s crossed the Atlantic.

Definitions given by my Collins Canadian Dictionary, First Edition:

Pending:
– while waiting for
– not yet decided or settled
– imminent

Impending:
something (esp something bad) about to happen

Suspend:
– hang (something) from a high place
– cause something to remain floating or hanging
– cause to stop temporarily
– to remove (someone) temporarily from a job or position, usually as a punishment

Depend:
– to put trust in; rely on
– to be influenced or determined (by)
– to rely (on) for income

Expend:
– to spend or use up (something)

Real Life Uses:

Judge Smith was motoring sedately along the highway, expending serious thought on the impending decision over custody of the Watkins’ dog. Considering the vicious ongoing battle for ownership, she’d suspended all visiting rights pending a dog psychologist’s report on the dog’s behaviour in the presence of its master and its mistress.

Little did Judge Smith know that Sam Slatter had expended a lot of energy intoxicating himself on a suspension of fermented barley and hops, and was heading toward a STOP sign to her left.

The county had suspended a flashing red light above the intersection to doubly warn motorists that they MUST, MUST come to a complete stop at the white line. How well Sam perceived this sign and/or light was dependent on how clear his vision was. And it wasn’t. Sad to say, his befuddled brain’s reaction time was as impaired as the rest of him.

The impending arrival of Sam’s vehicle was not noticed by the judge, distracted as her thoughts were. She only caught a glimpse of the oncoming vehicle on her left periphery and the question flashed through her mind, “Will it stop?”

Sam made a brave attempt to brake when the Judge’s vehicle swept in front of him, but the momentum of his vehicle couldn’t be checked. There was a dull crunch as he clipped the tail lights and rear fender of the Judge’s car.

Several days later Sam’s fog had mercilessly left him to his fate. Worse, he could see clearly now that the person whose car he had damaged was sitting in the judgement seat above him. What could he say? What could he do but sniffle as his license was suspended indefinitely, pending a police report on his past behaviour behind the wheel.

The Watkins’ case came up next. Worse luck for them, Judge Smith was in no mood to be patient. The dog was awarded to the husband’s aged uncle and all visiting rights were denied.

Circling Round Insomnia

Hello Everyone! I see we have another hoar-frosty morning in this part of the province. A bit of wind on Saturday dusted most of last week’s collection off the trees and shrubs, but a fog rolled in last night and touched them all up again. Very unusual for November.

I’m glad for another Monday morning, a new week ahead. I’ve some specific goals to meet and posts I’d like to write. And it’s December already! 🙂

Merriam-Webster’s Word of the Day is CIRCUMVENT

There are a lot of things one might try to get around, usually rules or taboos, but this morning I’m thinking of circumventing (getting around) insomnia. If such a use is permissible.

Sometimes I imagine counting things, or working on an assembly line. Usually I read. Not just a boring, soporific book, but something that draws relaxing images in my mind; my favourite choices are poetry and haiku. Ron Evans, a good on-line acquaintance once sent me four slim books by Peter Pauper Press, the Japanese Haiku Series, with poems by various haiku teachers and poets of past centuries — the “old masters.” I usually have one of these by my bedside, along with an old Friendship Book of Francis Gay.

Trouble is, as I’m reading I get inspired and soon have to get up, find pen and paper, and record what comes to me. Oh, well. Here are several haiku that came to me Saturday night:

her reflection on the pond
rippled by a water bug
hurrying somewhere

footprints in the snow
I gaze down the sidewalk
wondering who

the bird notes soar
and I try – but my tune
has no wings

Had He Only Known!

A Belisha beacon was an amber-coloured globe lamp atop a tall black and white pole, marking pedestrian crossings of roads in the United Kingdom, Ireland and in other countries historically influenced by Britain. The flashing light warned motorists that this was a pedestrian crossing.

It was named after Leslie Hore-Belisha, the Minister of Transport who in 1934 added beacons to pedestrian crossings, marked by large metal studs in the road surface. The first one became operational on July 4, 1935.

These crossings were later painted in black and white stripes, thus are known as zebra crossings. Legally pedestrians have priority (over wheeled traffic) on such crossings. (I believe they’ve been replaced over the years by WALK signals for pedestrians.)

This little incident apparently happened not long after Belisha beacons were set up in London. The King and his Queen were enjoying a pleasant drive through the city in the royal limousine when they passed an intersection where one of these lights had been installed.

“Pull over up ahead,” King Edward instructed their chauffeur. Then his said to his wife, “I want to try walking across at one of these crossings and see how it actually works.”

The chauffeur stopped the car and the King got out. He walked back up the street to the crossing and about five minutes later he returned.

As he climbed back into the car he was chuckling. The Queen looked at him curiously and asked, “What’s so amusing?”

He grinned at her. “One of my loyal subjects just called me a doddering old fool.”

It pays to use kind words. 🙂

This is my response to today’s Ragtag prompt: UNAWARE

Differing Opinions

Fandango’s challenge word this morning is CONTRAST

I offer this poem as my response:

THE DOCTOR
by Edgar Guest

I don’t see why Pa likes him so,
and seems so glad to have him come;
he jabs my ribs and wants to know
if here and there it’s hurting some.

He holds my wrist, ‘cause there are things
in there which always jump and jerk;
then, with a telephone he brings,
he listens to my breather work.

He taps my back and pinches me,
then hangs a mirror on his head
and looks into my throat to see
what makes it hurt and if it’s red.

Then on his knee he starts to write
and says to Mother, with a smile:
“This ought to fix him up all right.
We’ll cure him in a little while.”

I don’t see why Pa likes him so.
Whenever I don’t want to play
he says, “The boy is sick, I know!
Let’s get the doctor right away.”

And when he comes, Pa shakes his hand,
and hustles him upstairs to me,
and seems contented just to stand
inside the room where he can see.

Then Pa says every time he goes,
“That’s money I am glad to pay;
it’s worth it, when a fellow knows
his pal will soon be up to play.”

But maybe if my Pa were me,
and had to take his pills and all,
he wouldn’t be so glad to see
the doctor come to make a call.

From the book, Collected Verse of Edgar A. Guest,
©1934 by the Reilly & Lee Co

Word-lovers’ Camaraderie

A word-lovers’ fiesta that forgottenman started in Judy Dykstra-Brown‘s post, Cellar Door, has led to me writing this poem as my repartee. While I’m normally one who prefers simple words, I get into the spirit of weighty-words now and then. Now this collocation can be my response to the Word of the Day prompt: CAMARADERIE.

NOTE: I’ve given definitions at the end, so you won’t have to look up these heavy-weights like I did. 🙂

Ode to Periphrasis

The persiflage of my propinquity
Thanksgiving afternoon
led to my iniquity
of falling asleep to the croon
of Uncle Freddie’s monologue,
his riparian success
at anadromous angling—
and somehow in the mess

I muttered words inchoate
that enthralled my kith and kin
disrupting Fred’s rodomontade
in the middle of his spin.
Then all ears were attentive
to what I might reveal
of dissolute behaviour
in my half-conscious spiel.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Dictionary:
camaraderie – a spirit of friendly good-fellowship
repartee – a quick and witty reply
collocation – the act or result of arranging or placing together.
Specifically: arrangement or conjoining of linguistic elements (such as words)

periphrasis – use of a longer phrasing in place of a possible shorter form
persiflage – frivolous bantering talk
monologue – a long speech monopolizing conversation
riparian – relating to the bank of a natural watercourse, river, lake, or tidewater
anadromous – ascending rivers from the sea for breeding –like salmon that go upriver to spawn
inchoate – imperfectly or partly formed, incoherent
rhodomontade – a bragging speech
dissolute – lacking restraint, especially in things thought of as vices