Canadians celebrated Thanksgiving last month, and although I wish all my American friends well during their holiday this week, I have been giving thought to the poetic forms we've been learning on Real Toads. Some of them are elegant, most of them have been Welsh, and all of them have been interesting.
However, I must admit to a lifelong fondness for the ballad form: Kipling, Tennyson, Longfellow, Robert Service, etc.
My fondness might even have its roots in two particular lines of Kipling's Ballad of East and West, wherein the border thief Kamal has stolen the Colonel's mare and the Colonel's son goes after him to retrieve her. He falls, because he is riding a lesser horse, but he doesn't fail. The two men discover they have pride, valor, and strength in common, so Kamal decides to send his own son to become a soldier instead of a border thief.
"With that he whistled his only son, that dropped from a mountain-crest –
He trod the ling like a buck in spring, and he looked like a lance in rest."
Something in me sighed when I read that last line and, a young teenager in the late 1950s, I found myself thinking, "Mmm, I'm gonna get me one of those!"*
Meanwhile, I had a bit of fun with the first part of this ballad this week. Blogger keeps adding extra spaces between lines, and making some lines bold, and I haven't been able to remedy those problems.
The Basketball Ballad of Best and Least
Jamal is out with all his team to play both far and wide
And he wears his Air Jordans which are his very pride
He wears them out of the locker room onto the court each day
And turns the game around on his feet with each and every play.
Then up and spoke the coach’s son who led a troop of Girl Guides
“We can beat Jamal, girls, if we have good luck on our sides!”
Then up and spoke Melinda Dawn, daughter of Big Jim Bar,
“If we know his moves and fakes, we’ll know where his weaknesses are.
At first he tries the jump shot, and then he goes for the three,
And his free throw shot is wicked, he always impresses me.
So if we hurry to cut him off as fast as a bird can fly
By the grace of God we may block him before a shot he can try,
But if he gets by our point guard (and no Steve Nash have we)
Our only choice is to get off the court just as fast as we can flee.”