May 12, 1982 — The Reluctant Poet

Originally posted on Overflowing Ink: Zooming with the matchbox cars Playing cops and robbers Wide eyed for the fire on the big wheel Playing cowboys and Indians Not caring or understanding Gender differences Just playing for hours Carefree and not using an ounce of technology

via May 12, 1982 — The Reluctant Poet

David Bruce: William Shakespeare’s 2 HENRY VI: A Retelling in Prose — Act 5, Scenes 2-3 (Conclusion)

— 5.2 —

The first battle of St. Albans was taking place on 22 May 1455. At this particular location, a sign of the Castle, an inn at St. Albans, was displayed.

The Earl of Warwick said, “Lord Clifford of Cumberland, it is Warwick who is calling for you, and if you don’t hide yourself from the bear, then now, as the angry trumpet sounds the battle call and dying men’s cries fill the empty air, Clifford, I say, come forth and fight me.

“Proud northern lord, Clifford of Cumberland, the Earl of Warwick is hoarse with calling you to arms.”

The Duke of York arrived, on foot.

Seeing him, the Earl of Warwick said, “How are you now, my noble lord? What! You are on foot!”

The Duke of York explained, “The deadly handed, death-dealing Lord Clifford slew my steed, but foe to foe I have encountered him and made a prey for carrion kites and crows out of the fine, bonny beast he loved so well.”

Lord Clifford arrived.

The Earl of Warwick said to him, “For one or both of us, the time to die has come.”

“Stop, Warwick,” the Duke of York said, “seek out some other prey, for I myself must hunt this deer to death.”

The Earl of Warwick said, “Then do so nobly, York; you are fighting for a crown.

“I intend, Lord Clifford, to thrive in battle today, and so it grieves my soul to leave you unassailed by me.”

The Earl of Warwick exited.

The Duke of York looked at Lord Clifford instead of immediately fighting him.

“What is it you are seeing in me, York?” Lord Clifford asked. “Why do you pause and not begin to fight?”

“I should love your brave bearing, except that you are so firmly my enemy,” the Duke of York replied.

“Your prowess ought not to lack praise and esteem,” Lord Clifford said, “except it is used ignobly and treasonably.”

The Duke of York said, “So let my prowess help me now against your sword as I in justice and legitimate claim to the throne express and use it.”

Lord Clifford said, “I put both my soul and my body in the fight!”

“A dreadful wager! Prepare to fight immediately,” the Duke of York replied.

The two fought, and the Duke of York mortally wounded Lord Clifford.

La fin couronne les oeuvres,” Lord Clifford said just before dying.

The French sentence meant, “The end crowns the works.”

Lord Clifford meant that he had lived an honorable life and died an honorable death.

The Duke of York said, respectfully, “Thus war has given you peace, for you are still.

“May peace be with his soul, Heaven, if it be your will!”

The Duke of York exited, and young Clifford arrived.

Young Clifford said, “Shame and confusion! All the forces of King Henry VI are being routed. Fear frames disorder, and disorder wounds where it should guard — in all the confusion, we are killing our own soldiers.

“Oh, war, you son of Hell, whom the angry Heavens make their minister of vengeance, throw hot coals of vengeance in the frozen-by-fear bosoms of our army! Let no soldier flee.

“He who is truly dedicated to war has no self-love, and he who loves himself doesn’t have in his own essence but only by circumstance the reputation of being a courageous person. A person who has self-love wants to stay alive.”

He saw his father’s corpse and said, “Oh, let the vile world end, and the preordained flames of the last day knit Earth and Heaven together! Now let the general trumpet blow its blast and proclaim that the end of the world and Doomsday — the Day of Judgment — have arrived. Let personal matters and petty sounds cease!

“Were you fated, dear father, to lose your youth in peace, and to achieve the silver livery — grey hair — of judicious, wise old age, and in your respected state and during your days in which you should be sitting in a chair, thus to die in ruffian battle?

“Now, at this sight of your corpse, my heart has turned to stone, and as long as it is mine, it shall be stony.

“The Duke of York does not spare our old men, and no more will I spare his side’s babes. The tears of virgins shall be to me just like the dew is to fire.”

This culture believed that drops of water made a fire hotter by turning flames into burning coals.

Young Clifford continued, “And beauty, which often subdues the tyrant, shall to my flaming wrath be oil and flax.”

Oil and flax are highly flammable.

He continued, “Henceforth I will have nothing to do with pity. If I meet an infant of the House of York, I will cut it into as many pieces as wild Medea did young Absyrtus, her brother.”

While fleeing in a ship with Jason, Medea murdered her young brother and cut his corpse into pieces that she dropped into the sea. Her father, who was pursuing them, stopped to collect the pieces of his son’s corpse. Through this stratagem, Medea and Jason were able to escape.

Young Clifford continued, “In cruelty I will seek my fame.”

He picked up the body of his father and said, “Come, you new ruin of old Clifford’s house. As Aeneas bore his old father, Anchises, on his shoulders as he fled burning Troy, so I bear you upon my manly shoulders. But then Aeneas bore a living load, who was not as heavy as these woes of mine.”

He exited, carrying the corpse of his father.

Richard and the Duke of Somerset arrived and began to fight.

Richard killed the Duke of Somerset and said, “So, lie there. For underneath an alehouse’s paltry sign, that of the Castle in St. Albans, you, Somerset, have died and made the wizard who predicted your death famous.”

Much earlier, the Duchess of Gloucester, in the presence of a witch, a conjuror (wizard), and two priests, had consulted a spirit about the Duke of Somerset. The spirit had replied, “Let him shun castles. Safer shall he be upon the sandy plains than where castles mounted stand.”

Richard then said, “Sword, hold your temper. Keep your edge; stay sharp. Heart, continue to be wrathful. Priests pray for enemies, but Princes kill.”

The battle continued.

King Henry VI, Queen Margaret, and their attendants knew that they had lost the battle.

Queen Margaret said to King Henry VI, “Flee, my lord! You are slow; for shame, flee away!”

“Can we outrun the Heavens and escape what God sends us?” King Henry VI asked. “Good Margaret, stay.”

“What are you made of?” Queen Margaret asked, exasperated. “You’ll neither fight nor flee. Manhood, wisdom, and defense all agree that the wise thing to do now is to retreat from the enemy and keep ourselves safe by whatever means we can. All we can do is flee.

“If you are captured, then we would see the lowest point of all our fortunes, but if we happen to escape, as well we may, unless your neglect and indifference to taking action keeps us from escaping, we shall go to London, where you are loved and where this breach now made in our fortunes may readily be stopped. We can recover from this defeat.”

Young Clifford arrived and said, “Except that my heart is set on causing future trouble for our enemy, I would speak blasphemy before I would advise you to flee, but flee you must. Hopeless defeat reigns in the hearts of all the remaining fragments of our army.

“Flee, for your deliverance and safety! If you do so, we will live to see their day and give them our misfortune. We will live to have a day of victory like theirs and they will have a day of misfortune like ours.

“Flee, my lord, flee!”

— 5.3 —

The battle was over. Victorious, the Duke of York met with his son Richard and the Earl of Warwick. Soldiers, including a drummer and a soldier holding a battle flag, were present.

The Duke of York said, “Who can report what happened to the Earl of Salisbury, that lion in the winter of old age who in his rage forgets the bruises of old age and all the attacks of time, and who, like a fine fellow with the unwrinkled forehead of youth, restores himself with the opportunity to fight in a battle? This happy day is not itself — not happy — nor have we won one foot of land, if Salisbury is lost to us through death.”

Richard said, “My noble father, three times today I helped him to his horse, and three times today I bestrode him to defend him. Three times today I led him away and persuaded him not to undertake any further action in the battle.

“But still, wherever danger was, there I always met him. And like rich hangings in a plain, simple, homely house, so was his will in his old feeble body.

“But, noble as he is, look at where he is coming here.”

The Earl of Salisbury arrived and said to those present, “Now, by my sword, well have you fought today. By the Mass, so did we all fight well today.

“I thank you, Richard. God knows how long it is I have to live, and it has pleased Him that three times today you have defended me against imminent death.

“Well, lords, we have not got that which we have. We have won a victory, but we have not won a complete victory. It is not enough that our foes have fled this time because they are enemies who are able to regroup and to fight again.”

The Duke of York said, “I know our safest course of action is to follow them, for, as I hear, the King has fled to London, to call an immediate court of Parliament. Let us pursue him before the formal orders to attend Parliament go forth.

“What does Lord Warwick advise? Shall we go after them?”

“After them?” the Earl of Warwick said. “No, before them, if we can.

“Now, by my faith, lords, it was a glorious day. St. Albans’ battle won by famous York shall be famous in all ages to come.

“Let the drums and trumpets sound, and let all of us go to London, and may more such days of victory like these befall us!”


Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved


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David Bruce: War Stories

By the end of the twentieth century, only one woman had ever won the Medal of Honor. That woman is Dr. Mary Edwards Walker, who served in the Civil War. She volunteered her services to the Union Army, but the officials were unsure what to do with her. Although she wanted to serve as an army doctor, time after time her request was turned down. Still, because of the many wounded soldiers and the great need of doctors, she managed to help the wounded in a hospital temporarily set up in the Patent Office building in Washington D.C. as well as in field hospitals in Virginia. Later, she went to Chattanooga, Tennessee, where the wounded of the Battle of Chickamauga were coming. However, because of prejudice against women, who were not thought to be capable of being physicians, a medical board of male doctors pronounced her unfit to be a doctor. Nevertheless, she stayed to help civilians around and in Chattanooga. On April 10, 1864, as Dr. Walker was outside the army camp, a Confederate patrol arrested her and charged her with being a spy. She spent four months as a prisoner in Richmond, Virginia, before being exchanged for a Confederate prisoner. She continued to work as a doctor, first taking care of women in a prison, then working in an orphanage. For all of her work as a doctor during the war, she was awarded the Medal of Honor. However, in 1916, the United States Army reviewed the Medals of Honor it had given out, and it decided that Dr. Walker did not deserve her medal because she had been only a contract physician, not a member of the military. Dr. Walker declined to give up her medals (both the one she had been originally awarded, and the redesigned medal she had received in 1906), and she kept them until her death in 1917. However, the Army Board of Correction of Military Records reviewed her case in 1977. It determined that if she had been a man, she would have received a commission as an army officer. For this reason, the board restored her Medal of Honor on June 10, 1977.

Following World War I, Ernestine Schumann-Heink was leery of singing German classical music. (She had sang to support the American troops during the war.) Even while singing in Japan, she was very careful which songs she sang, so she left off the program all songs by German composers. However, the Empress of Japan looked over the program and was shocked by the lack of German composers, asking, “Why, what kind of a program is this?” Ms. Schumann-Heink started to mention the war, but the Empress of Japan said, very reasonably, “Music has nothing to do with war! Music should not be affected by war. So put in your classics, Brahms, Schubert, Beethoven, and make it an artistic, beautiful program—or there can be no concert.” Ms. Schumann-Heink very happily put the requested German classics into her program.

Comedian Al Franken goes into Veterans Administration hospitals to meet the wounded troops. He thought that it would be very difficult, but he was amazed by how cheerful many of them—including a woman helicopter pilot who lost most of her left leg and part of her right leg—are. He asked a man with one leg what had happened to him; the man replied, “I came in here for a vasectomy, and when I woke up my leg was gone.” By the way, Mr. Franken says not to thank these wounded veterans for their service to the country—they imitate all the politicians who tell them that. Therefore, Mr. Franken uses humor. When he has a photograph taken with one of these veterans, he writes on the photo, “Thank you for getting grievously wounded.”

When photographer Margaret Bourke-White received permission to cover the 1942 Allied invasion of Tunisia during World War II, she thought that she would fly there. However, General Jimmy Doolittle, who commanded the Eighth Air Force, told her that she would be safer if she sailed there in a convoy. Ironically, a German torpedo struck her ship, but fortunately, she escaped in a lifeboat—and came away from the wreckage with some astonishing photographs.

During World War I, many Americans opposed the playing of German music on patriotic grounds. However, many musicians, including Spanish cellist Pablo Casals regarded this attitude as nonsense, so Mr. Casals started the Beethoven Association in New York with other musicians who supported the playing of works by Ludwig van Beethoven and other great German composers.

Despite being born in Boston, George Copeland played Spanish music very well and even lived in Spain; however, he abandoned his Spanish villa just before a revolutionary war broke out. He had a good reason. One morning, he discovered one of his Loyalist servants on the patio. More specifically, he found the servant’s head—the rest of the servant was nowhere to be found.

General George Washington and 11,000 troops spent the winter of 1777-1778 at Valley Forge, Pennsylvania. Of his men, 3,000 died of hunger, cold, illness, and suffering that winter. In the spring, there was good news—the French had decided to join the war on the side of the Americans.

Alexander the Great could be ruthless. When he was opposed by the Thebans, he conquered Thebes, killed at least 6,000 men, sold the Theban women and children into slavery, and destroyed all the buildings of the city except for its temples and the house of Pindar, a poet he greatly respected.

When war correspondent and photographer Margaret Bourke-White received permission to fly on a bombing expedition during World War II, J. Hampton Atkinson piloted her himself, saying, “I’m going to fly you myself because if you die, I want to die, too.” (Fortunately, neither of them died.)

After Japan attacked Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, people worried that the Japanese would attack the western coast of the United States—or even the White House. Therefore, President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s wheelchair was outfitted with a gas mask.

Babe Ruth was such an American sports hero that during World War II, Japanese soldiers used to shout at American soldiers, “To hell with Babe Ruth!”

“Renewable Energy is Homeland Security.”—bumper sticker.


Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved


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Edgar Lee Masters: Peleg Poague (Spoon River Anthology)

HORSES and men are just alike.
There was my stallion, Billy Lee,
Black as a cat and trim as a deer,
With an eye of fire, keen to start,
And he could hit the fastest speed
Of any racer around Spoon River.
But just as you’d think he couldn’t lose,
With his lead of fifty yards or more,
He’d rear himself and throw the rider,
And fall back over, tangled up,
Completely gone to pieces.
You see he was a perfect fraud:
He couldn’t win, he couldn’t work,
He was too light to haul or plow with,
And no one wanted colts from him.
And when I tried to drive him—well,
He ran away and killed me.