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Archive for November, 2008

The Christmas Sweater

5:42am.

Just finished this book.

Why?  Because leaving it half finished when I went to bed at 10 last night just didn’t settle well.  When my baby woke me for his 4am feeding, I put him back in his own bed and came out here to pick it back up in the quiet of a sleeping house.

Because it’s my mom’s and she probably wants it back before we leave for San Diego this evening.

Most importantly, because I was not finished with the journey begun yesterday during our Thanksgiving celebration.

I wonder how my mom feels having raised such a bookworm.  Bad form, I know, getting stuck in a book while all the other women (and maybe even my husband?) are going about setting the Thanksgiving table (guilt, cringe) — but a nursing baby gives you a good excuse to be sitting there with nothing else to do.  

My Dad has this wonderful habit of acquiring the books I see new-in-stores and restrain myself from buying.  I love my dad.  I saw “The Christmas Sweater” by Glenn Beck @ Deseret Book a week ago, read the back, and thought, “Looks great!”

Turns out, I was right – and wrong at the same time.  This book is more than great, but I haven’t been able to find quite the right adjective.  For me, right at the moment in time I read it, it was perfect.  For you, it might not be.  It’s a story, like others out there I’m sure, about growing up.  About pain, love, sacrifice, and stubbornness.

Beck’s depiction of a 12-year-old boy’s perspective is appropriately aggrivating, and allows the reader to get in touch with their own immaturity.  Looking back at the book, I admire the author for being able to put his life’s greatest journey into a story like this.  When you go through great difficulties and come out learning equally great & profound lessons, you want to somehow communicate it to others.  You want to show them what you’ve learned so they can learn it too, so they don’t have to go through those same difficulties.

In this book, 278 little pages, I found myself lost in Eddie’s struggles, much as I get lost in mine.  I was frustrated with him and a part of him at the same time.  By the end, I found a new perspective and appreciation for those struggles – his and mine. 

I suspect most readers of this book have a similar experience, and I highly recommend it.

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I took a ship to sail the stars

And as the morning light appeared

I saw one fall from hallowed heights

And mar the sublime, eternal view

And yet, the star-

I could not hate it.

*

I took a ship to sail the sea

And a fearsome storm began to blow

My vessel tossed in a tumultuous way

And my simple course, forever lost

And yet, the storm-

I could not hate it.

*

I took a ship to sail my dreams

And see the echo of my living

Dismissing the dream, a terror came

And lost the peaceful voyage was to me

And yet, the terror-

I could not hate it.

*

I took a ship to sail my soul

And as I neared a vantage point

Agony’s hands in pain and rage

Sought to silence my exploration’s quest

And yet, the agony-

I could not hate it.

I could not hate it.

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As I have not yet completed another book to review, I would like to bring you all a wonderful poem written by one of my favorite Victorian poets, Alfred Lord Tennyson.  He was poet laureate of England and was prolific in his work.  The Charge of the Light Brigade is a poem that Tennyson himself called a ballad.  He wrote it in 1854, just shortly after hearing about the Battle of Balaclava, a battle of the Crimean War.  Something had gone terribly wrong in that battle.  Instructions were confused and sent 600 cavalry troops charging into a valley filled with Russian artillery.  Of the 600 mounted cavalry, only 150 made it out of the valley.   Something about this poem has always stuck me.  I hope you also enjoy it.

The Charge of the Light Brigade

By Alfred Lord Tennyson

1

Half a league half a league,
Half a league onward,
All in the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred:
‘Forward, the Light Brigade!
Charge for the guns’ he said:
Into the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred.


2

‘Forward, the Light Brigade!’
Was there a man dismay’d ?
Not tho’ the soldier knew
Some one had blunder’d:
Theirs not to make reply,
Theirs not to reason why,
Theirs but to do & die,
Into the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred.

3

Cannon to right of them,
Cannon to left of them,
Cannon in front of them
Volley’d & thunder’d;
Storm’d at with shot and shell,
Boldly they rode and well,
Into the jaws of Death,
Into the mouth of Hell
Rode the six hundred.

4
Flash’d all their sabres bare,
Flash’d as they turn’d in air
Sabring the gunners there,
Charging an army while
All the world wonder’d:
Plunged in the battery-smoke
Right thro’ the line they broke;
Cossack & Russian
Reel’d from the sabre-stroke,
Shatter’d & sunder’d.
Then they rode back, but not
Not the six hundred.


5

Cannon to right of them,
Cannon to left of them,
Cannon behind them
Volley’d and thunder’d;
Storm’d at with shot and shell,
While horse & hero fell,
They that had fought so well
Came thro’ the jaws of Death,
Back from the mouth of Hell,
All that was left of them,
Left of six hundred.

6

When can their glory fade?
O the wild charge they made!
All the world wonder’d.
Honour the charge they made!
Honour the Light Brigade,
Noble six hundred!

As a random side note…Tennyson himself recorded this poem on wax cylinder in 1890.  You can hear a the recoding here.

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