Monday, March 2, 2009

He died in 30 days

Blow, winds, and crack your cheeks! rage! blow!
You cataracts and hurricanoes, spout
Till you have drench’d our peoples, drown’d the Mall!
'Tis Harrison defies the elements
And mocks God's fires, oak-cleaving thunderbolts,
Sheet-white missives of Jove's forbidding wroth.
Who bares bald pate, with sodden hair comb'd o'er
And dares Jupiter to take most careful aim.
Brave Bill, old Henry, stout Tippecanoe,
Who stands contempt'ous of the icy chill
Sans coat, sans hat, in cotton breeches and
Spotless white shirt of thin New Jersy wool.
He bares his teeth before the storm and bites,
Chews, and shreds the breezes to make Address
Inaugural. 'Gainst advice most timely
He bidst the clocks to run, to chase the tail
Of his receeding speech and so pursue
Word after word, noun after verb, up hill, down dale,
'Till clause clamber over clause, all in a heap
And fall exhausted, a pile of words so
High it makes a dam, the better yet to
Hold back the tide of jeering elements.
Brave Tippecanoe, who dreads not wind, nor rain,
Nor storm, nor sleet, nor discharge ionic,
- No tools at elemental disposal -
Who in his youth danced the battlefield waltz
Side-stepped lead ball, dodged musket fire en-pointe,
Made Paso Doble to the cannons' roar,
And lived, to ripe old age, youth's bloom maintained
Within the dimple of his rosy cheek
And feared no man, no beast, no act of God.
He blissfull lives, all happy ignorance,
While in his breast, unseen, assassins dwell
And sharp'ning knives they bide, against the day
Of opportunity: William Henry
Lived all his life in ignorance complete
Suspecting not the name that spelled his doom.
Brave man, defying storm and hail and sleet
Who knew not the meaning of the word fear,
As well, sadly, knew not the word: microbe.


Anonymous said...

I always saw Harrison as a comic, pathetic figure, killing himself for pride, not a Lear-esque fearless old soldier defying fate one last time.

Until I read this.


Brilliant marriage of Shakespeare and American History. Good show.

Indiana Errant said...

It's good to see you writing again, Shark. America needs a Tolkien, someone so non-plussed at his own country's lack of epic literature that he goes about making it up. I wait with 'bated breath for a passage about Theodore the Lionhearted.

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