Tuesday, February 14, 2006

July 2005 - Retreats and a tribute to Walt Whitman

Join writer Kerri Buckley for the monthly radio show, The Literary Cafe - A Production of Coast Community Radio; KMUN in Astoria, and KTCB in Tillamook
now heard streaming on the worldwide web
July's show featured an interview with Astoria writer Trace Bergerson, who talked about retreats. Trace discussed what to look for in a retreat, her experiences, local and regional retreats, and how to apply for fellowships. Soapstone, a Writing Retreat for Women near the Oregon Coast, also contributed comments from their past fellows on the value of writing retreats. Thanks to Trace, and to Ruth. This show aired on July 4, 2005.
Also, a focus in this Fourth of July edition of The Literary Cafe' was a tribute to Walt Whitman, who perhaps wrote the quintessential Independence Day Poem.
His Independence Day Poem has three parts: first, the excitement of the parade, then a procession of ghost soldiers, and finally, a morid suggestion for improving the parade. Whitman finishes this poem with a grand finale, the fact that a boy is watching, who will soon be a parade participant, and perhaps soon after, a ghost.
Here is the poem,
Independence Day
by Walt Whitman.
To get betimes in Boston Town, I rose this morning early,
Here's a good place at the corner, I must stand and see the show.
Clear the way there Jonathan!
Way for the President's marshal -- way for the government cannon!
Way for the Federal food and dragoons, (and the apparitions copiously tumbling).
I love to look on the Stars and Stripes, I hope the fifes will play Yankee Doodle.
How bright shine the cutlasses of the foremost troops!
Every man holds his revolver, marching stiff through Boston town.
A fog follows, antiques of the same come limping,
Some appear wooden-legged, and some appear bandaged and bloodless.
Why this is indeed a show--it has called the dead out of the earth!
The old graveyards of the hills have hurried to see!
Phantoms! phantoms countless by flank and rear!
Cock'd hats of mothy mould -- crutches made of mist!
Arms in slings -- old men leaning on young men's shoulders.
What troubles you Yankee phantoms? what is all this chattering of bare gums?
Does the ague convulse your limbs? do you mistake your crutches for firelocks and level them?
If you blind your eyes with tears you will not see the President's marshal,
If you groan such groans you might balk the government cannon.
For shame old maniacs -- bring down those toss'd arms, and let you white hair be,
Here gape your great grandsons, their wives gaze at them from the windows,
See how well dress'd, see how orderly they conduct themselves.
Worse and worse -- can't you stand it? are you retreating?
Is this hour with the living too dead for you?
Retreat then -- pell mell!
To your graves -- back -- back to the hills old limpers!
I do not think you belong here anyhow.
But there is one thing that belongs here -- shall I tell you what it is,
gentlement of Boston?
I will whisper it to the mayor, he shall send a committee to England,
They shall get a grant from the parliament, go with a cart to the royal vault,
Dig out King George's coffin, unwrap him quick from the grave-clothes,
box up his bones for a journey,
Find a swift Yankee clipper -- here is freight for you, black-bellied clipper,
Up with your anchor -- shake out your sails --steer straight toward Boston Bay.
Now call for the President's marshall again, bring out the government cannon,
Fetch home the roarers from Congress, make another procession,
guard it with foot and dragoons.
This centre-piece for them:
Look, all orderly citizens -- look from the windows, women!
The committee open the box, set up the regal ribs, glue those that will not stay.
Clap the skull on top of the ribs, and clap a crown on top of the skull.
You have got your revenge, old buster -- the crown is come to its
own, and more than its own.
Stick your hands in your pockets, Jonathan -- you are a made man
from this day,
You are mighty cute -- and here is one of your bargains.
This show featured Aaron Copland's Appalachian Spring, closing with
John Phillips Sousa, and fireworks.


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