By Al Jacobs
Several years ago I wrote an article titled “Why is Modern Poetry So Bad?” In it I contended that the nation’s schools of the humanities have become profitable because thousands of functional illiterates are now being enrolled in and graduated with literary degrees. I suggested this was possible only because the once majestic highland of poetry devolved into a swampland of mediocrity, such that “. . . verse produced by any high school sophomore is indistinguishable from that of a poet laureate.” As you might have predicted, I received my fair share of castigation.
On Dec. 23, 2015 we had the chance to consider my claim, when Juan Felipe Herrera, the United States Poet Laureate memorialized in poem the terrorist attack which befell San Bernardino, California, earlier that month. The following is a portion of that verse.
I’ll take a bullet for you
Detective Jorge Lozano said
from the chasm of sprinklers spilling and leaving
he walked the living wounded
he did not utter words it was his heart that moved
the innocent followed
Reflecting on these words, I cannot help but recollect the memorializing of an earlier tragedy by the Nineteenth Century Poet Laureate, Alfred, Lord Tennyson.
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.
Tennyson’s lines remain revered 160 years since their composition. I can only ask, will Herrera’s lines be remembered by anyone the day after tomorrow?
Al Jacobs, a Dana Point resident and professional investor for nearly a half-century, issues a monthly newsletter in which he shares his financial knowledge and experience. You may view it online at www.onthemoneytrail.net.