Kennedy's 'C. S. Lewis overflow'
Poetry, and the Boy Scouts, revisited
Jonal entry 1001 | May 9 2007
In my last online personal post (in Xnmp, December 13 2006), I said I was hoping to find a new way to cast my blog. "I think it may end up being a repository for my author's 'overflow,' things I learn in the course of writing about . . . C. S. Lewis, or whatever comes next" that doesn't quite fit the book I'm working on at the time.
As you see, it has taken a long time for that to come about. When I suspended the "Jonals" last July, I was then hoping to start producing a book on St. Patrick that I had been researching for several years. That project fell through as the publisher determined "there is no market for books about St. Patrick." And as those who followed my other blog, Xnmp, know, I then proposed a book on C. S. Lewis to my publisher. That was accepted and now the manuscript first draft has been completed, and the publication date, timed to take advantage of the release of the second major motion picture based on one of the Chronicles of Narnia, the second of C. S. Lewis's seven children's books, has been set as March 2008 (the movie, Prince Caspian, is scheduled for release a year from this month).
Meanwhile, the "overflow," of which there has been much, has been directed into my next book proposal and an article for a magazine that I have already submitted and had accepted but isn't in print yet at this writing. But there is more overflow, two bits of which follow.
Poetry I wrote in a blog entry in 2002 ("Verse, or worse") that I had forgotten why, when in my early years, I liked to write poetry. Even though in that blog I went on to give some good definitions of poetry, reading a great deal of the C.S. Lewis body of work led me to another insight into what poetry is and what purpose it serves. (Lewis originally wanted to be known as a poet but gave it up when "free verse" like that from Ezra Pound, T.S. Elliot, and others became the fashion. But he continued to produce a few poems throughout his life, publishing them in British periodicals under psuedonyms, which have after his death been published in a book collection.)
My childhoold take on poetry, which isn't all that wide of the mark, is that it serves as "the poor man's song," meaning that a poem, like a song, is intended to express a message from the heart in the most evocative and appropriate use of the language, but lacking musical accompaniment. (Not all poems need be "beautiful," so language that captures the feel the poet wants to convey is more to the point than language that is "beautiful.")
I wrote my first (and only) "volume" of poems at age eight, but don't remember what they were about, but I think the subjects were anything that gave me a feeling of "longing" or "nostalgia" (I put it in quotation marks because...how "nostalgic" can an eight-year-old be?). Poignancy, discovery (like the first blossoms of spring) probably were subject matter. Certainly love in any romantic sense was not among the subjects at that time, but friendship-love and storge, the Greek word for familial love, probably were. There was only one "copy" of this "volume," which I think may have contained 20 pages of verses. But of course it's long lost. I began writing the Blacklick Valley news for the Mountaineer-Herald at age 13, and as I was paid by the column inch for that endeavor, I often wrote poems to pad the columns. There are probably even a few in the Teen Events columns published in my teens in the Journal, but after I became the Journal editor I wrote no more "poems." So someday someone will compile those from the archives of the papers and publish them as a collection (yeah, right).
Boy Scouts I also wrote a blog in 2002 about Boy Scouts and the lawsuits trying to open them to "gay members." I said then that "I've never been a big fan of the Boy Scouts" because I felt the pledge Scouts make to be "reverent" always struck me as, first, untrue, and, therefore, hypocritical. I don't retract anything I said in that blog, but Lewis did get me to push my thinking about this a bit farther. Though I don't recall Lewis ever mentioning Scouting, his approach to children throughout his Chronicles of Narnia pertains to my feelings about the Scouts' pledge. Though most boys are far from "reverernt," I now realize that I always approached that from the boys' perspective. But from a mature perspective, I now think it's not bad, and maybe is a good thing, to encourage children to make pledges that are bigger than they are. Doing so should, at least, encourage them to explore what such pledges may mean and should help their education into what "reverence" or anything else pledged, may mean.
Free bonus: Here's a link to the best collection of photographs of contempoary Johnstown I've ever seen. An old friend of my brother Bob sent the link to him and he forwarded it to me. Scroll down and check out all three sections.
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