(Please see the post on the tragedy in Connecticut for a few ways to show support to the people of Newtown.)
So, before we begin today's dates, I thought I'd share the lineup. The dates were created by randomly assigning last week's winners a slot numbered from 1-12. The date locales were also randomly assigned, after a "painstaking ordeal" of coming up with six places I personally would love to visit on a date. The date locales will remain, for now, a mystery ... There must be some surprise for you all! Each "date" will consist of a description of what we do on the date, and a look at each poet's poem based on five criteria. As for the lineup of the gentlemen ... Day One will feature a date with D.H. Lawrence and Countee Cullen, and a date with Robert Creeley and William Butler Yeats. Day Two will see Robert Hayden versus Langston Hughes and Claude McKay versus Pablo Neruda. Day Three will have Leopold Senghor competing against Shel Silverstein and Arna Bontemps competing against Dylan Thomas.
Let's get started!
A Day at the Park: D.H. Lawrence versus Countee Cullen
I have never been a huge fan of amusement parks, but I have had a love affair with the Tilt-A-Whirl for at least the past fifteen years. David and Countee meet me at the entrance to Hershey Park (my personal favorite amusement park, located in the heart of Hershey, Pennsylvania), and we make a beeline straight for the rollicking, whirling ride. I find myself comfortably squeezed in between the two gents on the first ride around. I can't help but let out shrieks of laughter as we slide around in the seat, pressed heavily first into one side, then the other, of our small circular enclosure. For the second trip, I take only David, and at my request he recites--in a somewhat quivering voice as the ride takes one wild turn after another--his "Almond Blossom".
The poem's "pick up line": "Oh, honey-bodied beautiful one, / Come forth from iron, / Red your heart is."
The most alluring word/phrase: "the ancient southern earth"
The most intriguing line break/enjambment: "Open, / Open, / Five times wide open, / Six times wide open,"
The line that says "I love you": "Something must be reassuring to the almond, in the evening star, and the snow-wind, / and the long, long, nights,"
The perfect closing line for a date: "Oh, give me the tree of life in blossom / And the Cross sprouting its superb and fearless flowers!"
Countee rides next. He holds on to the thin iron bar that keeps us from flying from our seats, but his face shows no fear. His voice is a bit more steady as he reads his "Lines to My Father".
The poem's "pick up line": "The many sow, but only the chosen reap"
The most alluring word/phrase: "soothe the smart of grief"
The most intriguing line break/enjambment: "provokes a shout / Of praise"
The line that says "I love you": "So has the shyest of your dreams come true, / Built not of sand, but of the solid rock,"
The perfect closing line for a date: "So has the shyest of your dreams come true"
Up, Up, and Away: Robert Creeley versus William Butler Yeats
If there's one thing I'm less fond of than the roller coasters of an amusement park, it's heights in general. Thus is somewhat surprises me that I am willing to follow Robert and William into the helicopter that will take us on a birds-eye tour of the Grand Canyon. William speaks and listens to the tour guide as Robert and I engage in a discussion of nature's inspirational power. Robert holds up a sign that tells me he has made a recording of himself reading the poem, so I won't have to suffer his attempts to shout over the sound of the chopper. Graciously, I accept an old voice recorder and, with headphones nestled in my ears, listen to Robert read his "A Wicker Basket" as I gaze out over the breathtaking majesty that is the canyon below.
The poem's "pick up line": "There are very huge stars, man, in the sky,"
The most alluring word/phrase: "the street like a night"
The most intriguing line break/enjambment: "and I eat it-- // Slowly."
The line that says "I love you": "I step in the back, / and we're gone. / She turns me on--"
The perfect closing line for a date: "Comes the time when it's later / ... and very soon after / rings out the sound of lively laughter--"
When we land, William steers us away and we find ourselves at the Petrified Forest. Robert hangs back--the helicopter ride, he says, left him a little "sky faint"--so William and I stroll alone into the sand and mysterious forest of trees turned to stone. As we stop to gaze out at the expanse of strangely beautiful dust and stone, he pulls out and reads his "When You Are Old".
The poem's "pick up line": "How many loved your moments of glad grace,"
The most alluring word/phrase: "shadows deep"
The most intriguing line break/enjambment: "how Love fled / And paced upon the mountains overhead"
The line that says "I love you": "But one man loved the pilgrim soul in you, / And loved the sorrows of your changing face;"
The perfect closing line for a date: "When you are old and grey and full of sleep, / And nodding by the fire, take down this book, / And slowly read, ..."
Your Turn: Once you have read each poet's poem, I'd love for you to share your thoughts on why you voted for who you selected as the winner. Which lines, words, phrases, et cetera stood out to you in each poet's poem, and why?
Want to stay connected? I invite you to connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn. Please also sign up for the free email updates from Our Lost Jungle!
Check out the Round One dates in the Our Lost Jungle Countdown to New Year's: