Tuesday, September 2, 2008

A Student’s Guide to my Labor Day poem about Tab Hunter

No Tuesday ramblings this week, but here’s a Student’s Guide to my Labor Day poem about Tab Hunter instead:

A Student’s Guide To My Labor Day Poem About Tab Hunter

Notes 1 through 4A refer to the title of the post; notes 5 through 6 refer to the title of the poem, and notes 7 through 17 refer to the body of the poem:

1. Walt Whitman: American poet (1819 - 1892). Here’s a Wikipedia article about him.

2. Robert Louis Stevenson: Scottish novelist, poet and travel writer (1850 - 1894). Here’s a Wikipedia article about him.

3. Rudyard Kipling: English author and poet (1865 - 1936). Here’s a Wikipedia article about him.

4. Hollywood: According to Wikipedia, a district in the city of Los Angeles, California, situated west-northwest of Downtown Los Angeles. Due to its fame and cultural identity as the historical center of movie studios and movie stars, the word “Hollywood” is often used as a metonym of cinema of the United States.

4A. Metonymy: Not to be confused with synecdoche.

5. Tab Hunter: See Wikipedia article and official fansite.

6. His 2005 Memoir: Tab Hunter Confidential: The Making of a Movie Star, published in Hardcover at $24.95 originally but currently available used for $0.41 at amazon.com

7. “When lilacs...bloom’d”: First line of a poem by Walt Whitman (see note 1) written as an elegy to the recently assassinated Abraham Lincoln, entitled “When lilacs...bloom’d”. Another of Whitman’s poems, “O Captain! My Captain!”, was also written shortly after Lincoln was assassinated -- he really liked the dude -- but the latter poem always makes this writer think of Mike Hampton, a pitcher for the Atlanta Braves baseball team, about whom he has thought of writing a poem called “O Hampton! Mike Hampton” but he hasn’t done it because it would need to end with “On the deck Mike Hampton lies, fallen cold and dead” and his writing is not that macabre -- yet.

8. “laid him down with a will”: Meant to remind the reader of the first stanza of “Requiem” by Robert Louis Stevenson (see note 2):

Under the wide and starry sky,
Dig the grave and let me lie,
Glad did I live and gladly die,
And I laid me down with a will.

9. Judy Garland: See Wikipedia article.

10. Her daughter Liza: Liza Minnelli. For how she would like you to see her, see her website. For a more recent photo of her and a little about her life, see Wikipedia article.

11. “And Tab Hunter, home from the hill”: Meant to remind the reader of the second stanza of Robert Louis Stevenson’s poem “Requiem”:

This be the verse you grave for me:
Here he lies where he longed to be,
Home is the sailor, home from sea,
And the hunter home from the hill.

12. “Nothing new...under the sun”: Meant to remind the reader of the words attributed to King Solomon in chapter 1, verse 9, of the book of Ecclesiastes in the Old Testament: “The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun.” The phrase “under the sun” appears 27 times in the twelve chapters of the book of Ecclesiastes.

13. “East may be East and West may be West”: The first line of the poem “The Ballad of East and West” by Rudyard Kipling (see note 3) is “Oh, East is East, and West is West, and never the twain shall meet.”

14. “But ever the twain shall meet”: See #12.

15. “And fans still deny Elvis Presley’s dead”: Self-explanatory.

16. Anna Nicole: Oh, forget it.

17. “moth and corrupting rust”: Meant to remind the reader of the words of Jesus Christ as quoted by the apostle Matthew in chapter 6, verses 19 through 21, of the book of Matthew in the New Testament: “Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”

Time does not permit us to elaborate on the subject of lilacs (bushes with lavender-colored flowers, which color is sometimes used in reference to homosexuals and homosexuality), labor (about which much is also written in Ecclesiastes), or America’s Labor Day (the first observance of which occurred on September 5, 1882).

But maybe there’s time for a little rambling here at the end. Today was my parents’ wedding anniversary. It also is the anniversary of the formal surrender of Japan to the United States on the battleship U.S.S. Missouri in Tokyo Bay in 1945. It is also the anniversary of the Great Fire of London that destroyed most of the city in 1666.


  1. Your weaving of these threads was brilliant! And, thank you for this reader's guide to your poem. I'm very lacking in the area of literature, but have learned some things today, thanks to you!

  2. As my English teacher, Mrs. V. would have said "Metonym? Why, that's a lovely word." You will find that out about her if I ever finish writing "Caught in the Web of Words."

  3. Oh my. I haven't read a poet's explication of his own work since I was a literature major at Wheaton. Well done!

  4. Thanks for all your comments and compliments. This post wasn't so much an explication of the poem as a tongue-in-cheek, incomplete parody of an explication of a poem. And the poem itself (in yesterday's post) was meant to be a parody also -- that is, it was not to be taken seriously!

    I think jay got it -- at least, her comment included "LOL".

  5. Great job but I actually really needed the reader's guide. I love the way you think and do learn from you in your humor. Great job!

  6. I'd spell it Labour, of course. Just pointing it out in a kind of British understated way.