Jun. 15, 2008

The Old Man and the Motorcycle

by Liam Rector

Acrobat's Song

by Robert Lax

The Old Man and the Motorcycle

The old man had inoperable cancer.
The old man's wife was dead
And the old man's kids didn't like him,

So the old man sold most everything
And bought a motorcycle
And the old man got back

To the backroads, to the roads he'd so
Enjoyed as a young man,
And the old man figured what the hell,

I'm sick I don't have long I might
As well die falling off this thing
Somewhere: this affordable, this moving,

This very roaring thing on these last roads.

Acrobat's Song

Who is it for whom we now perform,
Cavorting on wire:
For whom does the boy
Climbing the ladder
Balance and whirl—
For whom,
Seen or unseen
In a shield of light?

Seen or unseen
In a shield of light,
At the tent top
Where rays stream in
Watching the pin-wheel
Turns of the players
In light:

We are Thy acrobats;
Walking on wire,
Dancing on air,
Swinging on the high trapeze:
We are Thy children,
Flying in the air
Of that smile:
Rejoicing in light.

We perform before Thee,
Walking a joyous discipline,
A thin thread of courage,
A slim high wire of dependence
Over abysses.

What do we know
Of the way of our walking?
Only this step,
This movement,
Gone as we name it.
At the thin
Rim of the world
We turn for Our Lady,
Who holds us lightly:
We leave the wire,
Leave the line,
Into light.

"The Old Man and the Motorcycle" by Liam Rector from The Executive Director of the Fallen World. © The University of Chicago Press, 2006. Reprinted with permission. (buy now)
"Acrobat's Song" an excerpt from "Circus of the Sun" by Robert Lax from Love Had A Compass: Journals and Poetry. © Grove Press, 1996. Reprinted with permission. (buy now)

Today, the third Sunday in June, is Father's Day. The day honoring fathers was officially declared in 1966 by President Lyndon Johnson, but it has been celebrated since the early 1900s. Mother's Day is the second Sunday in May.

It's the birthday of Norwegian composer Edvard Grieg, born in Bergen, Norway (1843). Grieg started his musical studies at the Leipzig Conservatory when he was 15. The German Romanticism taught there would later give way to a distinctly Norwegian style, gracing Grieg with the title "The Voice of Norway."

Grieg left Leipzig for Copenhagen in 1863; there he met a fellow Norwegian composer Rikard Nordraak. Nordraak was interested in Norwegian folk music, especially because Norway was still under Danish rule at the time and struggling to find a national identity. Grieg became invested in the cause and founded the Norwegian Academy of Music in 1867.

Grieg collected Norwegian folk tunes and composed song cycles set to Norwegian verses.

On this day in 1215, King John of England put his seal to the Magna Carta, one of the first historical documents to state that subjects have rights beyond the power of their rulers. The right to a trial by jury and the right of habeas corpus, which prevents one from being unlawfully imprisoned, have been extrapolated from the Magna Carta. King John was more or less coerced into agreeing to the document by a group of barons who were upset at his disastrous and costly foreign policy. Although actually a reactionary move by the barons to insure their feudal rights, the Magna Carta took on symbolic significance as one of the earliest instances of the law possessing greater authority than the king. "Magna Carta" means "great charter" in Latin.

Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.®




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