Friday, March 16, 2012

POEM IN PRAISE OF SECOND PLACE

So we have our first batch of winners over at Ed DeCaria's March Madness. Congratulations to all those moving forward! And congratulations to everyone who didn't. Because without a second place, there can't be a first.

In your honor, I'd like to share below a great poem about the seconds of the world written by a wonderful poet I've been fortunate enough to meet and work with and publish in Birmingham Arts Journal.

But before I get to that: just six spots left on the April calendar for the KidLit Progressive Poem! Please join us! (Click the link for last week's sign up post.) And don't forget to visit a real champion for poetry Greg at Gotta Book for Poetry Friday Roundup!

Langley
by Robert Boliek

       American astronomer and pioneer in the design
      and construction of airplanes... He invented
     the bolometer, used to determine the intensity
     of solar radiation.  
                     - Funk & Wagnalls New Encyclopedia

The bicycle brothers were not alone: he too
had dreams heavier than air, envied the birds,
grew crow's feet staring squint-eyed at that blue,
unbroken sky. (Maybe he dreamed of the words
they'd write the day that Langley mastered flight.)

Then the bad news came (dateline: Outer Banks) --
how two Ohio boys had done all right, 
had gotten it to fly, the glory, and the thanks.

So Samuel Pierpont Langley, who once had caught
evanescing sunbeams in a magic jar,
became a footnote overnight --a  naught--
despite his dreaming well and going far.

May I reserve this space for those who place --
For the Langleys who make the race a race? 

Click here to learn more about Langley.

10 comments:

  1. very true but... if you didn't have the desire to win... in your heart know that you will be first ... would there be a race if everyone that entered a race accepted that second was okay. For me, I take off the clothes of kindness when I race... no cheating but every man for himself... and I run to win, always. my Granny would say, "Winning isn't everything but it sure beats the heck out of losing." Now if I lose, which I do sometimes :), I figure out what went wrong, try to fix it, and then I race again. Here are to second places... don't stop, work on it and ran again... you can do it!!!

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  2. oh my gosh... give me another cup of coffee... just read my comment back and I know I lost that race.... please overlook my mistakes

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  3. Sad to say for Langley, I have never heard of this man, Irene. However did you find this poem, which is quite beautiful, & makes my day as I lost by a few votes. Nevertheless, you have encouraged me to keep on as I do realize that I can make the 'race a race' (te he). I love that next to last stanza, "who once had caught/evanescing sunbeams in a magic jar" Thank you!

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  4. Oh, I really feel for Mr. Langley and am sorry I didn't know his name. But I do now! And what a lovely tribute to all of those who miss by a hair. I know how he feels!

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    1. Sigh... should be "I know how they feel."

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  5. Thanks for sharing this, Irene! As the saying goes, "No matter how slow you run, you still lap everyone sitting on the couch."

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  6. Great poem, Irene. Sad to say I didn't know Mr. Langley either. Love that he's been immortalized in a poem, though :). Thanks for the reminder that although winning is nice, it's really about the trying.

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  7. Appropriate post, Irene! (And particularly for me re. MADNESS, as I think my entry couldn't quite compete with Darren's chicken-flavored cat.) ;0) But as I always tell folks, most hunts DON'T go the wolf's way. (If it were to give up after a few fast rabbits or elk, it wouldn't eat.) Thank you for acquainting us with Mssrs. Boliek AND Langley today!

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  8. Dearest Irene, thank you for introducing us to Mr. Langley (who - like all the others noted above - I didn't know before). These are my favorite lines from the poem:

    "who once had caught
    evanescing sunbeams in a magic jar"

    what a beautiful way to describe this man.

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  9. Hooray for everyone who takes part in the race, no matter what place they come in!

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