Poetry old and new…

What do William Wordsworth (1770-1850) and Charley Pride (1938 – still kickin’) have in common?  Hmmmm….good question.  On the surface at least, they seem about as far apart as two can get.  Well, for starters, they both put pen to paper, in their respective centuries, and did a little rhymin’.  Wordsworth was the second of five, born in the Lake District of Northwestern England; Pride 1 of 11 dirt-poor sharecroppers in Sledge, Mississippi.  WW grew up in a mansion.  Pride did not.  In addition to his considerable skills as a poet, WW took a walking tour of Europe in his earlier days, which included an extensive tour of the Alps in 1790 as well as visits to France, Switzerland and Italy.

In addition to his love of music, and especially the guitar, Charley Pride played baseball.  In 1952 he pitched for the Memphis Red Sox of the Negro American League.   His Negro League baseball career included stints in Boise, Louisville, Birmingham and Fond du Lac, Wisconsin.  His hopes of making it to the Majors were put on hold by a two-year stint with the U.S. Army.  After fulfilling his obligation to the armed forces, Pride’s baseball career resumed, but as time went by he realized his dream of making it to the Major Leagues would not be realized.  The wind-down of his baseball career was concurrent with the ramp-up of his professional music career.  In 1958 he recorded music at the legendary Sun Studios in Memphis.  Charley eventually signed a contract with RCA in 1965 and recorded a string of hits, culminating with his # 1 chart-topper for five weeks, ‘Kiss An Angel Good Morning’.

The works of William Wordsworth will remain forever imbedded throughout English literature.  His accomplishments led him to become the Poet Laureate of England in the last seven years of his life (1843-1850).  During this time he rested upon his laurels and wrote no poetry.

My comparison/contrast of their lives ends here.  Let’s now take a very abbreviated look at their works:

“Ode on Intimations of Immortality” (this is quite abbreviated from the entire poem.  This is exactly as it was quoted in an exchange between father and son in the movie ‘A River Runs Through It’)

“Not in entire forgetfulness and not in utter nakedness…Though nothing can bring back the hour of splendor in the grass, of Glory in the flower, we will grieve not, rather find strength in what remains behind.  In the primal sympathy which having been must ever be, in the soothing thoughts which sprang out of human suffering, in the faith that looks through death, thanks to the human heart by which we live.  Thanks to its tenderness, its joy, its fears.  To me, the meanest flower that blows…can give thoughts that do often lie too deep for tears.”

vs.

“Kiss An Angel Good Morning”

Whenever I chance to meet
some old friends on the street
They wonder how does a man get to be this way
I’ve always got a smiling face
Anytime and any place
And everytime they ask me why
I just smile and say

You’ve got to
Kiss an angel good morning
and let you know you think about her when you’re gone
Kiss an angel good morning
and love her like the devil when you get back home
Well people may try to guess
The secret of a happiness
but some of them never learn it’s a simple thing

The secret i’m speaking of
Is a woman and a man in love
and the answer is in this song
that i always sing

You’ve got to
Kiss an angel good morning
and let you know you think about her when you’re gone
Kiss an angel good morning
and love her like the devil when you get back home

Kiss an angel good morning
and let you know you think about her when you’re gone
Kiss an angel good morning
and love her like the devil when you get back home

tough call, but I kind of prefer Charley.

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