Tuesday, September 18, 2018

A few poems, or Trees have leaves and roots and branches, not all Texans live on ranches

In my old hometown of Mansfield, Texas, 60 years ago, there was an electrician and repairer of television sets named Beverly Bratton. Let me back up and start over. As far as I know, there were no television sets named Beverly Bratton in my old hometown 60 years ago. What I meant to say was that our local electrician and television repairer was named Beverly Bratton, and the point I'm trying to get to is Beverly was a man.

Not a transgendered man, mind you, but a born-male baby whose parents gave a name that sounded decidedly female.

It has happened before. George Beverly Shea, whom everyone called Bev, sang at just about every Billy Graham crusade. Joyce Kilmer, a man, wrote a poem called "Trees". Johnny Cash famously sang about a boy named Sue (3:46) in his San Quentin Prison concert.

If you know of other examples of boys with girls' names, tell me in the comments.

Here, from 1913, is "Trees":

Trees
by Joyce Kilmer (1886 - 1918)


I think that I shall never see
A poem lovely as a tree.

A tree whose hungry mouth is prest
Against the earth’s sweet flowing breast;

A tree that looks at God all day,
And lifts her leafy arms to pray;

A tree that may in Summer wear
A nest of robins in her hair;

Upon whose bosom snow has lain;
Who intimately lives with rain.

Poems are made by fools like me,
But only God can make a tree.

Joyce Kilmer looked like this in 1908, when he was attending Columbia University:


Many years later, poet Ogden Nash wrote:

I think that I shall never see
A poem lovely as a tree;
Indeed, unless the billboards fall,
I'll never see a tree at all.

Here is Ogden Nash in his youth:


Here he is later in life weariing a spiffy houndstooth jacket, the money for which might have been better spent on dental work:


And many years after that -- today, in fact -- yours truly wrote the following:

Blogposts are made by fools like me, but only God can make a tree.

Here I am at age 37:


I end this post with these trees, whose age I do not know:


16 comments:

  1. Hooray for trees. And those who respect/love them.

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    1. Sue, indeed. I agree wholeheartedly. There was a wonderful article about trees in a recent issue of Smithsonian Magazine (from the museum of the same name). I cannot find it online, but if you can get a hardcopy version of it, I think you would enjoy it immensely.

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    2. P.S. to Sue — I found the article in the March 2018 issue of the Smithsonian magazine. It is “The Whispering of the Trees” by a Robert Grant. And it is available online after all..

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  2. I am sending a partial list of names that belonged to males before they were adopted by females. Many of them are now considered feminine rather than masculine. Vivian, Beverly, Evelyn, Ashley, Madison, Margaret, Lindsay, Sidney, Allison, Blair, Dana, Hilary, Meredith, Whitney. I guess we get the idea.

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    1. Emma, that is a great list. Evelyn Waugh was a famous author. Ashley Wilkes was a character in Gone With the Wind. Meredith Wilson wrote The Music Man Whitney is my son-in-law's first name (he doesn't go by it). Lindsay Graham is one of the senators from South Carolina.

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  3. Well, it happened again. Kate sent a comment that I thought was published, but it disappeared and Blogger is now saying it never existed. Fortunately, I made a copy of it before I clicked 'Publish'; here it is:

    Kate has left a new comment on your post "A few poems, or Trees have leaves and roots and br...":

    Ah Trees. and Poems. They go well together. I once was part of a choir that learnt to sing a version of the billboard song. It was short and made the audience laugh because it was so, as well as the words being amusing (they thought). I thought it immensely sad and still do. I have to go to a 'shop' this morning and the sign over the shop has words taller than me. It's called 'MITRE TEN MEGA' and the words are black and orange and the WHOLE 200 metres OF THE SIDE OF THE shop is BLACK AND ORANGE. It is hideous. When it was built I said I would never go there but I broke my promise to myself after one short year, because it is full of tools and I need them sometimes. Rant over.
    You haven't changed.
    I don't know any bloke with a sheila name. (That's how to ask the question you asked, in New Zealandish.)

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    1. Kate, your rant doesn’t seem connected with the rest of your comment, unless the big sign and big orange & black building are made of wood, that is, trees, in which case I understand your feelings completely.

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    2. "I think that I shall never see
      A poem lovely as a tree;
      Indeed, unless the billboards fall,
      I'll never see a tree at all."

      I thought the huge Mega Mitre Ten sign was as close as a billboard as I usually see. Here we call them hoardings, btw.

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    3. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  4. My brother is named Lorin and was named after a man but around the same time my brother was born the name Lauren became super popular for girls. Sigh
    I have heard numerous other examples but can't remember right now.

    I like trees. Of any age. They keep us alive so it's a good reason to like them

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    1. kylie, our landlord many years ago in Nebraska was named Loren, and one of my stepbrothers has a daughter named Lauren.

      I would like to recommend for your reading pleasure an article you can find online called “The Whispering of the Trees” by Robert Grant. It was published in the March 2018 issue of Smithsonian magazine.

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  5. Over here in The Motherland, we had a famous TV wrestler known as Big Daddy but - I kid you not - his real name was Shirley Crabtree. As you know my wife's name is also Shirley and co-incidentally she also likes to wrestle. Shirley Crabtree died in 1997 in the same Yorkshire town where he was born.

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    1. Y.P., I seem to remember knowing a man named Shirley somewhere, sometime, someplace, but all the details elude me at the moment. Perhaps it is just the power of suggestion at work.

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  6. John Wayne's real name was Marion Robert Morrison. I've never heard on another man names Marion in my life. I know of Shirley - Big Daddy much like Yorkshire pud too.

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  7. Starshine Twinkletoes, I had forgotten about John Wayne’s real name being Marion. I actually knew a boy named Marion who was two years ahead of me in school.

    I would like to suggest that you shorten your name to S-Toe, just as Jennifer Lopez became J-Lo, Ben Affleck and Jennifer Aniston became Bennifer, and Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie became Brangelina. Think of how much ink your local newspaper alone would save.

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    1. Hahahahaha. Hmm, I'll go with for Starry Eyes, how about that? S-Toe sounds like something you need fungal cream for.

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