Dating Advice From Famous Poets


Maya Angelou

By York College ISLGP [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

By York College ISLGP [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

Dear Ms. Angelou,

I’m writing to you because I’m quite vexed over my father’s intractable position vis-à-vis the proposal of my commencing a relationship with a boy. I am fully capable of making my own decisions, having already attained twelve full years of age, and while I have not yet reached menarche, I am still as much a woman grown as any of the other girls in my class, many of whom have already gone on one or more dates. I think he is being completely unreasonable. What say you?

Signed,

A Caged Bird, Too

 

Dear Fledgling,

A free bird leaps
on the back of the wind
and risks unknown
are hers to embrace
without a care
to cast aside the chains
of a life left behind.

But a bird that stalks
down her narrow cage
held back by father’s
blindness and fear
her wings are clipped and
she knows not why
so she opens her throat to sing.

The caged bird sings
with a fearful trill
of things unknown
but longed for still
and her tune is heard
on the distant hill
for the caged bird
sings of freedom.

The free bird gets cruel education
on the price of casual flirtation
and the handsome boys not as good as their word
and her eyes with tears are blurred.

But a caged bird knows more than a father could
He’d lighten up if he understood
But he still says “no” and locks the doors
so she opens her throat to sing.

The caged bird sings
with a fearful trill
of things unknown
but longed for still
and her tune is heard
on the distant hill
for the caged bird
sings of freedom.

 

Edgar Allen Poe

Daguerreotype of Edgar Allan Poe, known as the "Annie" Daguerreotype.

Daguerreotype of Edgar Allan Poe, known as the “Annie” Daguerreotype.

Dear Mr. Poe,

I’m planning to propose to the love of my life, my beautiful girlfriend of many years, and I want to do it somewhere special, someplace so magical she’ll never forget it. Can you offer any suggestions?

Thanks,

Searching for the Moment

 

Dear Lost in the Moment,

It was many and many a year ago,
In a kingdom by the sea,
I proposed to a girl you may know
By the name of ANNABEL LEE;–

Let’s just say things didn’t exactly work out
The way that I thought they would be.
If I had it all to do over
In that kingdom by the sea,
We would have just gone out to a nice dinner–
I and my Annabel Lee.

My advice? Bundle up, stay inside, stay warm —
STAY AWAY FROM THE SEA.

 

Dr. Seuss

Ted Geisel (Dr. Seuss) half-length portrait, seated at desk covered with his books / World Telegram & Sun photo by Al Ravenna

Ted Geisel (Dr. Seuss) half-length portrait, seated at desk covered with his books / World Telegram & Sun photo by Al Ravenna

Dear Dr. Seuss,

I’m not sure who to ask about this, but here goes. I’ve started noticing the boys in my class, and I think I like them, you know, in that way. Which would be great, except I’m a boy too.  Which I guess means I’m gay? And some people say being gay is bad, and other people say it’s not, and I just don’t know what to think. What do you think?

Signed,

Confused and Lost

 

Dear Lost and Found,

There once was a girl named Julie Madevin,
A charming young thing the age of eleven.
She had a crush on a boy in her class,
The boy known as Billy Sassafrass.
Julie thought that he was quite alright;
His eyes were blue, his pants were tight.
But there was something the other kids would say:
They all insisted that Billy was gay.
Julie didn’t know what to do,
So she ran home and asked her mommies two.
They told her this was quite alright,
And Julie slept quite well that night.

 

Lord Byron

George Gordon Byron, 6th Baron Byron, by Richard Westall, from National Portrait Gallery, London.

George Gordon Byron, 6th Baron Byron, by Richard Westall, from National Portrait Gallery, London.

Dear Lord Byron,

I want to do something really special for my wife for Valentine’s Day this year. It’s been a rough year, and I really want to show her I love her more than anything in the world. You’re renowned as one of the greatest romantics of all time; can you please give me something to show her just how much I love her?

Signed,

Truly Desperately In Love

 

Dear Truly Desperate,

I dunno. Flowers?

 

 

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Nine Ravens


(With apologies to Edgar Allen Poe)

 

Once upon a web page I saw, that was dedicated to law,

Raven sitting on end of branch by Dave Menke, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Raven sitting on end of branch by Dave Menke, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

(I do not recall if it was blog or wiki or something more,)

While I tried to keep from snoring (face it that stuff’s kind of boring),

There came a tapping, as of someone rapping at my study door.

” ‘Probably my wife,” I mumbled, “tapping at my study door;

Only this, and nothing more.”

Ah, distinctly I remember, it was a bleak and cold November,

The High Court’s term starting on the first Monday month before.

Desperately I wished the morrow; foolishly I sought to borrow

From Jack Daniels surcease of sorrow, sorrow caused by culture war.

Caused by the endless bickering that had been dubbed the culture war,

Discussed here nevermore.

And the monitor light glowing with new lawsuits overflowing

Thrilled me—filled me with fantastic terrors never felt before;

So that now to stop the throbbing of my head, I stood there sobbing,

“It’s just the puppy trying to get in at my study door,

It must be my little puppy pawing at my study door.

That must be it; nothing more.”

Eventually I took a nip, with liquid courage got a grip,

“Whoever’s there,” I said, “I hope you don’t mind about before;

But the truth is I was… napping, when you came so gently rapping,

When you came so gently tapping, tapping at my study door.

Wasn’t really sure I heard you.” Then I opened wide the door;

Darkness there, and nothing more.

I don’t know how long I stood there, staring out at nothing but air

Questioning my sanity like so many who came before;

But there was no sound but silence, and my only sign of guidance

And the only words there spoken were the whispered words,

“Culture war?” This I whispered, and an echo murmured back the words,

“Five to four!” Just this, and nothing more.

Back into my study turning, all my heart within me burning,

Soon again I heard a banging, something louder than before,

“Huh,” I said, I thought that I’d seen something just above my flat screen.

It’s outside the study window, so this mystery I’ll explore.

Let me just chill out a minute, and this mystery explore.

“It’s the wind, and nothing more.”

So I opened up the window, and suddenly what do you know?

Right in comes these nine ravens that I had never seen before.

Not a word or gesture to me; not a single “An it please thee”;

But with mien of lord and lady, perched  beside my study door.

Perched upon a bench that was sitting inside my study door,

Perched, and sat, and nothing more.

Decked with feathers black as robes, sitting with patience to match Job’s,

I attempted to establish some semblance of rapport.

“An unkindness some might call you, yes, and a conspiracy too,

To be honest that’s the sort of name-calling that I deplore.

Tell me, pray, how I should know you, oh great Scions of Baltimore.”

Quoth the ravens, “Five to four.”

I was stunned at these ungainly fowl to hear discourse so plainly,

Though their answer little meaning, use, or relevancy bore;

For we cannot help agreeing that no living human being

Ever yet was given help by birds within their chamber door,

Birds or beasts sitting upon their bench within their chamber door,

With such words as “five to four.”

But the ravens, having spoken, would not let that be their token,

Instead they had to further discourse on matters more and more.

Topics timely and political; both trivial and critical;

Till my rage was near biblical, “I should show you to the door!

I want none of this, please, leave me be, get out of here, no more!”

Then the birds said, “Five to four.”

There’s nothing that they won’t debate, from abortion to speech of hate

Taking their sides from established ideologies of yore.

Though they might each strut and posture, give an enigmatic gesture,

Make us wonder if the outcome might be different from before

In the end there’s no cause for surprise about the final score;

The score is 5 to 4.

But the ravens still sat judging, so with grace ill and begrudging

I sat down, tried to ignore them and work as I was before.

But one thing there was no budging,  no, never sufficient nudging

To shift the awful balance that had been previously foreswore–

That these awful birds of omen held over from the days of yore

Had doomed us with “Five to four.”

Each single word I was weighing, the game D.C.’s always playing,

Despite myself, taken in by the vile back and forth once more.

On this law there’ll be no bending, the back and forth is never ending,

Though we cry out for unity, it’s victory we look for,

But when that ugly fool’s gold is the prize that we all opt for

Then the prize is, “Five to four.”

Turning then to my oppressors, I became the new aggressor

Unleashing on them all the wrath I had pent up heretofore.

“Were you not all nine delighted when the citizens united

Or you sat in judgment o’er the case of Bush v. Gore?

Uninsured were not deplored, racial preferences galore?”

Quoth the ravens, “Five to four.”

“Jurists!” said I, “all divided!– never one, though sit united!

Whether Donkey sat or Elephant deposited before,

Determined though you are to lead us by example not at all–

In this land that’s so torn by strife– tell me truly, I implore:

What’s the chance for peace and brotherhood–tell me I implore!”

Quoth the ravens, “Five to four.”

Jurists!” said I, “still divided! Still deserve to be derided!

By that space that bends above us–by that God (that you won’t let His commandments be posted in a government building but somehow a six foot tall monument on government property is okay and how are those not blatantly conflicting rulings?) that we all adore–

Tell this soul with strife encumbered, if these days of pain are numbered,

Will the time come when we at last can put out the last flame war?

I beg you, can you tell me I will have the peace that I yearn for?”

Quoth the ravens, “Five to four.”

“Be that phrase our sign of parting, birds or fiends!” I shrieked, upstarting–

“Get thee back unto the night and to Baltimore’s polluted shores!

Leave no writ or other token of the cruel words you have spoken!

Leave my solitude unbroken!– quit the bench beside my door!

Take your damn conspiracy elsewhere and haunt me nevermore!”

Quoth the ravens, “Five to four.”

And the nation stands divided, never to be reunited,

Cursing politicians from north to south and from shore to shore,

Though we think they’ll keep us guessing, ain’t it really quite distressing

We’ve found out as Ackbar warned us that “it’s a trap!” to be sure,

We may all try to hope for change but we see forevermore

That the score stays 5 to 4.