This one arrived from the Minstrels listserv this morning - remind you of anything?
Guest poem sent in by Cornelius 0Brien
"A Newer Kingdom"
The men who billow down the sea in ships
Have earned these ages tributes justly high;
But now is newly told on peoples's lips
Of men in airy craft who seek the sky.
Flung freely through their newer kingdom won,
Clean wings describe the geometric arc,
And hurtle down the starlight to the dark
Or gambol with the spear-shafts of the sun.
A newer kingdom and a newer race -
They spurn with pride the lowly creed of earth,
And glory in the boundlessness of space,
Where worlds through aeons past have leapt to birth.
Though mortal span is told in numbered weeks
They brush eternity with youthful cheeks.
Notes: I found this sonnet in the published memoirs of Gordon Fox. Gordon,
uncle of my wife Rosie, was a bomber pilot in World War Two. His memoirs,
written in diary form, were published privately about a year after his death
in September, 2001. His eldest son Kennedy Fox very kindly sent us a copy.
This sonnet ("A Newer Kingdom" is my name for it) was found by Gordon in an
anthology of air force poems. Kennedy says that neither he nor his father
had any idea who wrote the poem.
It is beautifully crafted, and to my heart and mind does what all good poems
do - draws pictures with words and stirs emotions in the reader or listener.
Yeats' "An Irish Airman Foresees his Death" could be a blood relative of
this lovely sonnet. I am also reminded of Wilfred Owen, although I cannot
really say why.
Well, in tone and part of its subject matter, and in some of its rhymes, it's reminiscent of John Gillespie Magee's sonnet 'High Flight'. Is that what you are thinking of?
Oh, I have slipped the surly bonds of earth,
And danced the skies on laughter silvered wings;
Sunward I've climbed and joined the tumbling mirth
Of sun-split clouds and done a hundred things
You have not dreamed of -- Wheeled and soared and swung
High in the sunlit silence. Hov'ring there
I've chased the shouting wind along and flung
My eager craft through footless halls of air.
Up, up the long delirious, burning blue
I've topped the wind-swept heights with easy grace,
Where never lark, or even eagle flew;
And, while with silent, lifting mind I've trod
The high untrespassed sanctity of space,
Put out my hand, and touched the face of God.
But I wouldn't call Anon's moderately talented effort here plagiaristic. I think he intended readers to recognise that he was referring to pilots like Magee, just as he must have intended his opening line to be recognised as a paraphrase of part of psalm 107:23. ‘High Flight’ became so well known among aviators that none of them could seriously expect to plagiarise it and not be found out.
Interestingly, it appears that Magee took some of the phrases in ‘High Flight’ from other sources:
but no one is blaming him for that, especially as he reportedly wrote it spontaneously and very quickly.
Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 12/15/2006 12:13AM by IanB.
Cowabunga! Just the one I was thinking of, right. One of the few poems I have taken the time to memorize, so no wonder it rang the gong for me. I wonder if the Icarus Anthology is available somewhere - would be an interesting read. I have also wondered about the 'down to the sea in ships' line. Those who go to the sea that way must have already been sailing down via inland rivers, no? More likely they went down to the sea on horseback, or afoot.
The bottoms of the boats would get all scraped up.
When i said this when I was in Gloucester, I got the same reaction as when I was at Gettysburg and said it must have been a hell of a battle what with all those statues and monuments to hide behind.
Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 12/14/2006 12:43PM by JohnnySansCulo.
Bewitched Fisherman - This famous Gloucester, Massachusetts statue was the focus of an episode on the sitcom BEWITCHED/ABC/1964-72. While Samantha the witch visited the New England area to attend a Witches Convention in historic Salem, her husband Darrin Stephens (Dick Sargent) was enchanted by his mischievous cousin-in-law Serena the witch (Elizabeth Montgomery in a dual role) who turned him into the likeness of a local monument called The Fisherman Statue (official title "The Man at the Wheel"). While Darrin took the place of the statue, Serena gallivanted around town with the reincarnated image of the Fisherman Statue. For the role, Dick Sargent was dressed in a fisherman's raincoat and hat and then sprayed all over with a rusty green color to simulate the weather worn statue.
The real statue upon which the episode was based stands at Stacey Boulevard in the town of Gloucester, Massachusetts. It was created by Leonard Craske in 1923 for a dedication ceremony honoring the town's 300th anniversary. The inscription on the statue reads: "They That Go Down To The Sea in Ships."
The reason why the cast of BEWITCHED traveled to New England was because their Hollywood stage burned down in April 1970. While they rebuilt the show's filming stage the production cast hit the road filming episodes No. 202 "Salem, Here We Come." (aired 10-1-70); No. 203 "The Salem Saga" (aired 10-8-70); No. 204 "Samantha's Hot Bed Warmer" (aired 10-15-70); and the Fisherman's statue episode "No. 205 "Darrin on a Pedestal" (aired 10-22-70).
I wonder if the Icarus Anthology is available somewhere - would be an interesting read.
It was published in 1938. If it had been published a couple of decades later, it could have included - besides Magee's paean to the Spitfire - this one in a lighter vein by 'Trog', the worthy winner of a New Statesman literary competition more than 50 years ago, in which the contestants were asked to help redress the lamentable lack of 'Air Shanties':
No anvil-headed cumulus
Shall turn my wings away:
Come stall or spin, I’m going in
Bang on at E.T.A.
You can tell the Tower Controller
That I’m giving her the gun:
He can stuff his stack, for I’m coming back
And I’m landing Number One.
Landing Number One, my lads, Number One for landing.
Sally’s on the tarmac with her ticker in her hand.
So fasten straps and lower flaps,
We’re crashing through the circuit, chaps,
We’re going in, we’re going in, we’re going in to land.
It’s Harry Clampers all the way:
They’re stacking to the stars:
I cannot start the undercart,
We’ve ice for rudder-bars
It’s thick enough at fifty feet
For sparrowhawks to stand,
But thick or thin, we’re going in,
We’re going in to land.
I don't know whether 'Harry Clampers' was genuine air-force slang for something, or perhaps rhyming slang. No one has been able to tell me. Probably it was just plausible nonsense invented by Trog.
2nd edit. I've got my answer to that via Google. It means a thick fog. Don't ask me why !
Edited 4 time(s). Last edit at 12/16/2006 07:53AM by IanB.
Good stuff, thx. Here is some more (but not much) on harry clampers:
Certainly seems as if it must be Cockney rhyming slang (raspberry tart = fart), but my rhyming dictionaries offer few possibles (hamper/damper).
I see you edited out the Icarus plagiarism references, and I neglected to write them down, so I will see what is available from the online used book stores. Fascinating ideas to me, since I read everything there was to find about Magee a few years back, and none of this was mentioned then.
I'm getting the feeling it's derivative from some missing piece, much in the same way that the term "J ARTHUR" is used for masturbation, but one would have to know that it refers to J Arthur Rank which rhymes with Wank and that Wank is british slang for masturbation, which Americans might not know.
similar to "A right james"
This probably won't help, but it couldn't hurt:
I see you edited out the Icarus plagiarism references
Not intentionally. Must have clicked on the wrong window the first time. I have now substituted the Wikipedia link I meant. Those references are in the paragraph immediately below the full text of 'High Flight'.
Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 12/16/2006 08:01AM by IanB.