Where literature goes to die.

Friday, August 5, 2011

"Tiptoe Through the Tulips" as played by the USMC band

Sometimes good poets write bad things. It happens. We can't be on our A-game all the time. Today's entry showcases a low moment for the otherwise well-respected poet, Edgar A Guest. What sets Guest apart from our previous poet,  William McGonagall, is the fact that Guest had the capacity to also write good poems, while McGonagall did not. Ever.

But let's take a look at the following poem, shall we? I'm going to be completely honest, and say that this poem speaks to me on a subconscious level. You see, like the soldier described below, I too am driven to unfathomable blood-lust at the mere sight of peonies or pansies. In fact, the more manicured the garden the more likely I am to join in the battle, bathe in the blood of my enemies, and inhale their wisdom as I crack their bones for marrow. It's nice to see that I'm not alone in this peculiar floral fetish. Although I have a sneaking suspicion tha the soldier mentioned below fights to defend these flower patches. For me, they serve as a catalyst to my unquenchable thirst for domination. With that in mind, enjoy this poem.

The Things That Make A Soldier Great, by Edgar A. Guest

The things that make a soldier great and send him out to die,
To face the flaming cannon's mouth nor ever question why,
Are lilacs by a little porch, the row of tulips red,
The peonies and pansies, too, the old petunia bed,
The grass plot where his children play, the roses on the wall:
'Tis these that make a soldier great. He's fighting for them all.
'Tis not the pomp and pride of kings that make a soldier brave;
'Tis not allegiance to the flag that over him may wave;
For soldiers never fight so well on land or on the foam
As when behind the cause they see the little place called home.
Endanger but that humble street whereon his children run,
You make a soldier of the man who never bore a gun.
What is it through the battle smoke the valiant solider sees?
The little garden far away, the budding apple trees,
The little patch of ground back there, the children at their play,
Perhaps a tiny mound behind the simple church of gray.
The golden thread of courage isn't linked to castle dome
But to the spot, where'er it be -- the humblest spot called home.
And now the lilacs bud again and all is lovely there
And homesick soldiers far away know spring is in the air;
The tulips come to bloom again, the grass once more is green,
And every man can see the spot where all his joys have been.
He sees his children smile at him, he hears the bugle call,
And only death can stop him now -- he's fighting for them all.
If only those millions and millions of WWI and WWII soldiers had just thought about tulips and lilac buds when they heard the bugle call, it would have made those wars go by so much more pleasantly! 

1 comment:

  1. I really still cannot believe that this poem exists. The idea is really rather sound, that soldiers are fighting for their homes, not their country--not really--but the execution is...well, it really does seem like the budding apple trees are sending these men into ferocious, blood-lusting rages.