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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.

Once upon a time, there was tired, tired mommy. She had a little baby who cried and cried all night long, so she couldn’t get any sleep. Finally, in the wee hours of the morning, her little baby stopped crying and went to sleep. Just as the tired, tired mommy was getting to sleep herself, her two older children woke up, bright and cheerful.

“Good morning Mommy!” they shouted as they bounced on her bed, “We’re awake!”
They had happy faces as they played together around their sleepy, sleepy mommy. Pretty soon the little baby heard what was going on, and he too said, “Good morning Mommy!” except it sounded like, “Da da, da-buh, mmm, ya ya, bah!”

The tired, tired mommy was not as happy as her children. In fact, she wasn’t happy at all! She wanted more than anything to go back to sleep. She tried, but of course she couldn’t with three little children giggling and wiggling all over her bed. The tired, tired mommy was about to become a grumpy, cranky mommy when something tickled the back of her mind.

It was the Holy Ghost whispering, “Be grateful! Think positive!”

So the frustrated, sleep-deprived mommy thought. She thought and thought, and tried to come up with something to be grateful for. She reviewed the situation:
Four people in bed.
Three very happy, energetic, cheerful children loving each other and having a great time.
One very tired, sluggish, not-happy mom.

It was then the mommy realized,
“Hey! Three out of four ain’t bad!”

The Holy Ghost seemed to laugh with her as she enjoyed that most astute observation at 6:45 that morning. The tired mommy became a blessed mommy when she looked on the bright side, and everyone had a happy day.

The end.

Reason to Write is not a platform where we discuss our political ideals. However, this one is of such importance, I feel the need to post about it.

For those of you not in the state of California, let me tell you a little about Prop 8.  Prop 8 would create a state constitutional amendment that would state the only marriage between a man and a woman is allowed in the State of California.

Now, I really don’t know all the statistics or the numbers or every logical argument being put forth about this important issue.  All I can tell you are the things I know to be true.

First and foremost, I know that God loves His children.  All of them.  No matter what.  Because of that love, He has given us commandments to follow and consequences for when we choose to follow or choose not to.  One of the things He ordained from the creation of our Earth was that marriage was to be between a man and a woman.  His first commandment was that Adam and Eve should multiply and replenish the Earth and bring forth children.  These children would get the chance to learn and grow and strive to rely on the Atonement of Christ in the hope of someday after death, returning to live with God.  This is His plan for His children.  And He gave it to us because He loves us.

Gay marriage is not part of that plan.  This does not mean, however, that God loves those children that desire it any less then those that do not.  No, He loves them all.  God’s love of His children does not make it right though.  He has told us that if we would follow His plan and rely on Christ, that we would be led home to our Creator.  He also said that if we did not follow His plan, there would be consequences, the ultimate being the inability to return to God’s presence.

This issues (Prop 8.) is unfortunately being painted as a rights issue.  And it is not.  Everyone is right.  This is a moral issue.  But sometimes moral issues, especially those which go against the framework of truth given to us by our Father in Heaven, are too important no ignore.  This is one of those issues.

I understand that I may offend many by this post.  If so, I’m am sorry you were offended.  But, I am not sorry for what I have written, for what I have written is the truth that I know in my heart.  The truth that family is ordained of God and has been from the dawn of time.  The truth that the “traditional” family is essential to our life here on Earth and our life into the eternities.  The truth that some issues are too important to be a passive voter.

And, so, I would encourage you all to vote Yes on Proposition 8 come November 4th and declare that only marriage between a man and a woman is legal and accepted in the State of California.

For those of you that are interested, here are some links:

www.preservingmarriage.org

The Family:  A Proclamation to the World

City of Ember, People of Sparks and Prophet of Yonwood by Jeanne DuPrau

A young friend of mine loaned me these books and encouraged me to read them.  I did, and quickly so.  City of Ember was a compelling read that dragged me speedily into an underground civilization that is dying and whose citizens are in need of rescue and escape and whose ultimate triumph comes at the hands of two adolescents, Lina and Doon.  People of Sparks continues the story of the people of Ember and their quest for a better life where food, commodities, and resources are not scarce.  Prophet of Yonwood takes the reader back in time to before the founding of the underground city and some of the many events which led to its creation and in habitation.  A fourth book in the series entitled The Diamond of Darkhold has recently been released.  A movie based on the City of Ember is to be released 10/10/08.

These books are geared for a middle school audience, and do that job justly.  However, the books are full of interesting cultural, social, and modern commentary that cannot help to attract adults to come and devour their pages.

Why do we write?

As I lay in bed tonight, I thought about the title given this blog:  A Reason to Write.  Why do I need a reason?  I thought.  Well, that’s simple.  Because without a reason, I wouldn’t write.  Why do I even want to write?  What is it about writing that calls to many of us?  26 symbols that make up letters, another dozen or so more that constitute punctuation, and yet something outside of the mathematics and the symbolism calls to us.  Why do we write?

Perhaps we write because writing is something that makes us human.  Perhaps it is that ability to express ourselves that truly makes us feel as if we have something to say.  Unlike the spoken word, writing’s enduring presence seems to call to us, as if we yearn for a permanence we fear we never will receive.  Or, perhaps, in writing, we feel that we have accomplished more than in speaking, for there is something physical left behind.

Writing seems to call to us at many levels.  From the email full of incomplete sentences to the well written, college worthy paper…it seems to fulfill a need within us.  And so we write.  Millions of volumes of text have been published, and millions more exist unpublished in forms of journals, or, dare I say, blogs.  Poems are studied in the classrooms, while millions of others lie concealed in boxes of memories.

Even if no one is listening, we write.  And at the cathartic moment where our minds are freed from the fetters of perfectionism and we stop worrying about the audience we may or may not have, we achieve something.  For just that brief moment we have grasped a hold of ourselves and acknowledged the transcendence that is within, allowing ourselves to truly be whole, to be authentic, to be free.

And so we write.  We write for a freedom we all wish to know.  We write for ourselves and allow others to come and what remains of our release.  We write because no one is listening and at the same time, someone just might be.  And, we write to come to know that something inside of us.  For that little piece of our soul that, perhaps, waits for us to confide in the music of the written word.

And so, we write.

Little Men and Jo’s Boys by Louisa May Alcott

For those of you who many not be familiar with Alcott, Little Men and Jo’s Boys are the sequels to the beloved Little Women.   Telling the story of Jo’s life after her marriage to Professor Bhear, Little Men introduces us to Plumfield School where boys, and girls, are taught not only the important lessons learned from books, but the important lessons of life as well.  Jo’s Boys takes the chronicles of the students to new heights, as the students reach adulthood and choose their future paths, allowing the lessons of the past blossom.

My favorite character is Dan.  Dan is first introduced to us in Little Men as a wayward orphaned teenager who rough exterior and brusque and seemingly callous manor not only steals his way in to Jo’s heart, but manages to survive a good deal of trouble.  He grows and changes and appears again in Jo’s Boys, now a rugged man of the Western Frontier.  His character is perhaps one of the most complex in Alcott’s pantheon and truly deserves a paper of study all his own (which I may someday write).  Through Dan, Alcott discusses issues of race, class, nature vs. nurture, and the ever important Transcendentalist questions of sin and redemption.  Many have argued and will argue that Dan is a failed character, perhaps even tragic in that his one great flaw holds rigidly to his heart and leads to his destruction.  I however would argue that Dan’s only flaw makes him a tragic hero.  His flaw is not one that would mock the sanctity of life.  Instead, Dan’s true flaw is that he loves too deeply.  And, there, one must ask, can one love too deeply?  Is that truly a flaw?  What sort of actions are justified  when one adheres to friendship so completely?

I won’t say anymore.  Go read the books.  Then, if you disagree…we’ll chat.  I’d love that.  And, maybe someday I’ll write my study of Dan and we’ll look a little more in to an all encompassing love a little more.