How do you make poetry relevant?


black-hawkCannon to right of them,
Cannon to left of them,
Cannon in front of them
Volley’d and thunder’d;
Storm’d at with shot and shell,
Boldly they rode and well,
Into the jaws of Death,
Into the mouth of Hell
Rode the six hundred.

charge-of-the-light-brigade-header1The assignment was The Charge of the Light Brigade by Tennyson, but the students’ eyes were going dry with boredom at the Lighthouse Christian Academy in Santa Monica. Vain were my pleas to see the danger, to feel the passion, to live the moment. So what do I do? I showed the students Black Hawk Down, which retells the death of 18 deaths and 73 wounded among Rangers and Delta Force operators in Somalia in 1993. Deprived of heavier armored vehicles by a Clinton administration who deemed them “too high profile,” American soldiers were overrun when things started going wrong: Todd Blackburn missed the rope on the drop in, two helicopters were shot down. Throughout the afternoon and night, the U.S. tried to evacuate the wounded and rescue the surrounded. Flower children never do well commanding armies.

Tennyson’s tributes the brave British soldiers who charged — to their deaths — in the Battle of Balaclava against the Russians in 1854 that showed similar incompetent leadership resulting in extraordinary courage and needless death.

You can take your fantasy Star Wars. I’ll take reality; it’s far more exciting.

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7 responses to “How do you make poetry relevant?

  1. It´s far more exciting that´s for sure and tragic at the same time. Speaking as a former soldier.

    Great post, very well written indeed. And I have actually seen the documentary of black hawk down, about the Clinton administration what you said is right. And as a matter of fact our cool friend Bin the Laden now resting in hell down in the water he did note this. That if the Americans suffer looses, if you have a week commander in chief who doesn´t rally the public around the specific cause as to why the Americans have to interven, they will pull out once they bodies start coming in. Bind Laden did took notice of that, and consequently other terrorist attacks occured until the big one of 9/11

    • It is a very sad commentary of the world that bullies will go around bullying unless someone stops them.

      • You can´t do what the U.S and the Europeans are doing now with bullies, which is to try to appease them and negotiate. History is reapeating itself, that´s exactly how we got to WW2, by the Brits at first trying to appease good old Adolf when he invaded some Little country and when they finally reacted it was already too late since “mustache” man had already had time to rebuild his military. Seems we don´t learn from history. Bullies by nature pray on the weak, if they see weakness they will find themselves empowered and keep doing the same thing and more likely take it a notch up. In these cases is the old saying, you do have to meet violence but with overwhelming violence.

  2. Before we went to Iraq in 2003 our unit read Black Hawk Down like crazy. Sometimes history is more interesting than fantasy IMO!

  3. Good article, although I still like Star Wars. 🙂

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