Mark Twain and Poets as Policemen

mark twain_color As writers of poetry we are witnesses of the past and legend makers of the future. Poets like poetry are incredibly dynamic, often painting a picture in words… using the least to exhume the most. And upon thinking about who is a poet; that can generate a multitude of answers.

In 1900 our esteemed thinker, Mark Twain, spoke at the Lotus Club; a well established New York City gentleman’s club. Well known for its membership, he was included in the roster along with other famous business men, publishers, artists, and physicians. It was here at The Lotus Club where periodic dinners honoring guests with speeches by unique individuals took place.

So…in thinking about poets I unleash today’s blog with more ingenious wit from Mr. Twain. Who better than to give us pause in our busy day!

“POETS AS POLICEMEN: Mr. Clemens was one of the speakers at the Lotus Club dinner to Governor Odell, March 24, 1900. The police problem was referred to at length.

“Let us abolish policemen who carry clubs and revolvers, and put in a squad of poets armed to the teeth with poems on Spring and Love. I would be very glad to serve as commissioner, not because I think I am especially qualified, but because I am too tired to work and would like to take a rest. Howells would go well as my deputy. He is tired too, and needs a rest badly. I would start in at once to elevate, purify, and depopulate the red-light district. I would assign the most soulful poets to that district, all heavily armed with their poems. Take Chauncey Depew as a sample. I would station them on the corners after they had rounded up all the depraved people of the district so they could not escape, and then have them read from their poems to the poor unfortunates. The plan would be very effective in causing an emigration of the depraved element.”

Mark Twain and babies

baby Once Upon a Time ago there was a great distinction between where children were permitted and where they were not. For example; children were not permitted at the race tracks and though I was a little girl who too, like so many, loved horses…one had to be of age to see them run…not because of the horse, but because there was betting going on. Children were not permitted in casinos, however today Las Vegas has opened its doors and created a family friendly place. And so, here come the babies… sweet darlings amidst what was once “no babies” permitted.

Babies are everywhere, they coo, they cry, they even have their own seats on the plane… (to the dismay of the poor parents who must pay full price.) They have their own little branding and specialty stores.. “Baby Gap” and “Babies “R”Us” (well, not all of us, if our’s are all grown up), even “Baby Pottery Barn” … Hmmm, are they being exploited or do we just adore them?

twain Today’s blog has taken a more humorous look at babies…after all they can be pretty funny…and we take a few moments to read the esteemed thinker, Mark Twain. From his speeches: “DELIVERED AT THE BANQUET, IN CHICAGO, GIVEN BY THE ARMY OF THE TENNESSEE TO THEIR FIRST COMMANDER, GENERAL U. S. GRANT, NOVEMBER, 1879” ( ohhh this should be really good!!) let us begin…

“The fifteenth regular toast was “The Babies.—As they comfort us in our sorrows, let us not forget them in our festivities.”

“I like that. We have not all had the good fortune to be ladies. We have not all been generals, or poets, or statesmen; but when the toast works down to the babies, we stand on common ground. It is a shame that for a thousand years the world’s banquets have utterly ignored the baby, as if he didn’t amount to anything. If you will stop and think a minute—if you will go back fifty or one hundred years to your early married life and recontemplate your first baby—you will remember that he amounted to a good deal, and even something over. You soldiers all know that when that little fellow arrived at family headquarters you had to hand in your resignation. He took entire command. You became his lackey, his mere body-servant, and you had to stand around too. He was not a commander who made allowances for time, distance, weather, or anything else. You had to execute his order whether it was possible or not. And there was only one form of marching in his manual of tactics, and that was the double-quick. He treated you with every sort of insolence and disrespect, and the bravest of you didn’t dare to say a word. You could face the death-storm at Donelson and Vicksburg, and give back blow for blow; but when he clawed your whiskers, and pulled your hair, and twisted your nose, you had to take it. When the thunders of war were sounding in your ears you set your faces toward the batteries, and advanced with steady tread; but when he turned on the terrors of his war whoop you advanced in the other direction, and mighty glad of the chance, too. When he called for soothing-syrup, did you venture to throw out any side-remarks about certain services being unbecoming an officer and a gentleman? No. You got up and got it. When he ordered his pap bottle and it was not warm, did you talk back? Not you. You went to work and warmed it. You even descended so far in your menial office as to take a suck at that warm, insipid stuff yourself, to see if it was right—three parts water to one of milk, a touch of sugar to modify the colic, and a drop of peppermint to kill those immortal hiccoughs. I can taste that stuff yet. And how many things you learned as you went along! Sentimental young folks still take stock in that beautiful old saying that when the baby smiles in his sleep, it is because the angels are whispering to him. Very pretty, but too thin—simply wind on the stomach, my friends. If the baby proposed to take a walk at his usual hour, two o’clock in the morning, didn’t you rise up promptly and remark, with a mental addition which would not improve a Sunday-school book much, that that was the very thing you were about to propose yourself? Oh! you were under good discipline, and as you went fluttering up and down the room in your undress uniform, you not only prattled undignified baby-talk, but even tuned up your martial voices and tried to sing!—Rock a-by Baby in the Tree-top, for instance. What a spectacle far an Army of the Tennessee! And what an affliction for the neighbors, too; for it is not everybody within, a mile around that likes military music at three in the morning. And, when you had been keeping this sort of thing up two or three hours, and your little velvet head intimated that nothing suited him like exercise and noise, what did you do? You simply went on until you dropped in the last ditch. The idea that a baby doesn’t amount to anything! Why, one baby is just a house and a front yard full by itself. One baby can, furnish more business than you and your whole Interior Department can attend to. He is enterprising, irrepressible, brimful of lawless activities. Do what you please, you can’t make him stay on the reservation. Sufficient unto the day is one baby. As long as you are in your right mind don’t you ever pray for twins. Twins amount to a permanent riot. And there ain’t any real difference between triplets and an insurrection…”