A Christmas Round

  • Now it’s Christmas
  • Gone is the year
  • What did I do in April
  • Or midsummer’s day?
  • Then as the leaves turned gold
  • It slipped away

The Cure For Mondayosis, Excerpts from Rise of the Pirate Classes — Freedom from Mental Manacles

The Cure For Mondayosis

Excerpts from Rise of the Pirate Classes — Freedom from Mental Manacles

We still had to get all the other parents to agree at least to considering the proposal before anything could go forward.

I felt that it fell to me then.  Such sudden wonderful visions of hope could end up vanishing just as easily.  We were asking a lot.  Even Jenny with her books and works on alternative education could find no precedent for what we were proposing.  It all depended on my proposal and I therefore at least needed to produce something that would convince all our parents that we would work better together than we did at school.  I wasn’t sure I could do that but I was absolutely determined, particularly if it meant never having to dread Mondays again.  I never worked so hard.

. . .

[Once the four kids get their school approved provisionally:]

This was bliss!  Sunday no longer murked under the shadow of impending misery; the galley slaves were no longer chained to their desks and no Sunday was ever quite as brilliantly dazzling.  In a fit of compensatory fervor, I spent the whole day working with words — listening to lectures from Oxford, MIT and Stanford, looking up words, playing vocabulary games.  By the end of the day I had actually once managed to get up to level 49 out of 60 in an online vocabulary quiz game.  I probably learnt more than I had all semester and now had over 300 new words in my vocabulary journal and had learnt them all.

I was a bit embarrassed to be seen studying by my parents but they were indulgent when I asked for privacy.  Without a Monday to dread, I continued to enjoy myself well into the night.  This had indeed been the greatest day of my life as I reveled in the thought that Monday in its worst sense might not ever come again.  In the same way that the dread of approaching September had always destroyed the joy of late summer with anticipation of impending enforced confinement and drudgery, Mondays had ever deprived Sundays of much their delight, reducing their function to that of a salutary buffer that protected Saturdays from succumbing to a similar fate.  From this point on, my new school life promised to make September and Mondays into something quite different.  As time passed, they would start to become eagerly anticipated goals but that was also soon to vanish into an even more sublime state as September and Mondays both lost all significance.  This was only a natural consequence of both June and Friday having lost theirs.  Our weeks, days and nights would cease conforming to a schedule and we would find ourselves always eager to start and reluctant to relinquish working with our chosen enthusiasm of the moment.  These were to leak into all of our lives and permeate them.  I prefer not to think of it as “school”, a concept to which they would come to bear little resemblance, but the word continues to be used for purely practical reasons.

Forrest Waltz

Written for dance teacher, Forrest Walsh, on his 40th birthday.  He probably never listened to it.

— DK Titche

Musical Score




Cicero’s Library Garden

“A garden and a library!” That’s all we really need.
The Roman statesman’s words ring true for most of us indeed
But think back to the times of youth when slowly trudged the day
And minutes seemed like hours and days when she was far away.
A garden was scant solace then and books unread then lay.

Or when the noble cause took every unforgiving minute
Travail must change the world at last and all the evil in it
But when the world had wagged a bit and years slipped by too soon
Seeds and soil took over from the protest marcher’s tune
And books fadged better with the lean and slippered pantaloon.

— K. Titchenell

X Times More Than

If you have twelve and I have three
You have four times as much as me
If I have four and you have two
Do I have two times more than you?

Is “X times more” “X times as much”?
Well yes, it’s often meant that way
But when it’s stated straight as such
One sees the meaning start to fray

Can this for every X be true?
Well if X is a half then it’s a mess
If I have X times more than you
Then 50% more is 50% less

— K. Titchenell

A Verse That Can’t Be Emailed: The Forbidden String: MEGA.NZ

You may well find that you cannot send an email containing this domain name!

Recently found that emails sent were not arriving — no bounce, and eventually discovered that they were being tossed for containing a specific domain name, that of the cloud storage I use, which I cannot name lest this email go also awry. Anyway, it inspired the following:

M3GA.NZ, The Forbidden String

Email speech just isn’t free.
Change “3” to “E” and try
To email these few lines and see!
Yes, you might well ask “Why?”!

It seems that some domains offend,
They’re words we may not say.
No mail with those words can we send.
It’s simply thrown away.

They say that it reduces spam
And that might well be true
But to repress these tins of ham
My every word’s gone through

in search of a seditious trope
Or some unsanctioned claim
Which bodes a secret slippery slope
Of outlawed word and name.

Our email content — word and thought
Thus fails to flourish free
And there may well be others, not
Just MEGA dot en zee.


— K. Titchenell

Rhetorical Devices used in the Amanda Gorman poem “The Hill We Climb”

Amanda Gorman poem “The Hill We Climb”

Amanda Gorman followed President Biden’s inaugural address to deliver “The Hill We Climb,” echoing many of Biden’s platform planks in dense rhetoric. At 23, Gorman is the youngest inaugural poet ever.  PBS made a lesson plan out of it.

Read the entire transcript of Gorman’s words and “The Hill We Climb”:

Mr. President, Dr. Biden, Madam Vice President, Mr. Emhoff, Americans and the world,

when day comes we ask ourselves where can we find light in this never-ending shade?

The loss we carry a sea we must wade.

We’ve braved the belly of the beast. [alliteration][rhyme]

We’ve learned that quiet isn’t always peace. In the norms and notions of what just is isn’t always justice. [paronomasia][alliteration]

And yet, the dawn is ours before we knew it.

Somehow we do it. [rhyme]

Somehow we’ve weathered and witnessed [alliteration] a nation that isn’t broken, but simply unfinished.We, the successors of a country and a time where a skinny black girl descended from slaves and raised by a single mother can dream of becoming president only to find herself reciting for one.

And yes, we are far from polished, far from pristine,[alliteration][anaphora] but that doesn’t mean we are striving to form a union that is perfect.[allusion] We are striving to forge our union with purpose. To compose a country committed to all cultures, colors, characters, and conditions [alliteration]of man. And so we lift our gazes not to what stands between us, but what stands before us.[antithesis] [alliteration]

We close the divide

because we know to put our future first, we must first put [epanodos]our differences aside.[rhyme]

We lay down our arms so we can reach out our arms [antanaclasis]to one another. We seek harm to none and harmony [paronomasia]  for all.

Let the globe, if nothing else, say this is true.[hyperbaton]

That even as we grieved, we grew. [rhyme]

That even as we hurt, we hoped[alliteration]. That even as we tired, we tried that will forever be tied together[alliteration][paronomasia], victorious. Not because we will never again know defeat, but because we will never again sow division.[alliteration][assonance][antithesis]

Scripture tells us to envision that everyone shall sit under their[synesis error] own vine and fig tree and no one shall make them afraid.

If we’re to live up to her own time, then

victory won’t lie in the blade,

but in all the bridges [alliteration] we’ve made.

That is the promise to glade[rhyme]

, the hill we climb if only we dare. It’s

because being American is more than a pride we inherit.

It’s the past we step into[antithesis] and how we repair it.[rhyme]

We’ve seen a forest that would shatter our nation rather than share[alliteration] it. [antithesis]

Would destroy our country if it meant delaying democracy. And this effort very nearly succeeded.

But while democracy can be periodically delayed, it can never be permanently defeated.[alliteration] In this truth, in this faith we trust for while we have our eyes on the future, history has its eyes on us.[epanodos]

This is the era of just redemption.

We feared it at its inception.

We did not feel prepared to be the heirs of such a terrifying hour,

but within it, we found the power[rhyme]

to author a new chapter,

to offer hope and laughter[rhyme]

to ourselves so while once we asked, how could we possibly prevail over catastrophe? Now we assert, how could catastrophe possibly prevail over us? [epanodos or chiasmus]

We will not march back to what was, but move to what shall be a country that is bruised, but whole, benevolent, but bold[alliteration], fierce, and free[alliteration]. We will not be turned around or interrupted by intimidation

because we know our inaction and inertia will be the inheritance[alliteration] of the next generation.[rhyme]

Our blunders become their burdens[alliteration]. But one thing is certain,

if we merge mercy with might

and might with right[alliteration][adadiplosis],

then love becomes our legacy and change our children’s birthright.[rhyme]

So let us leave behind a country better than one we were left with. Every breath from my bronze-pounded chest we will raise this wounded world into a wondrous one.[alliteration] We will rise from the gold-limbed hills of the West. We will rise from the wind-swept Northeast where our forefathers first realized revolution. We will rise from the Lake Rim cities of the Midwestern states. We will rise from the sun-baked South.[anaphora] We will rebuild, reconcile and recover[alliteration][parallelism] in every known nook of our nation,[alliteration] in every[anaphora] corner called our country[alliteration] our people diverse and beautiful will emerge battered and beautiful[alliteration].

When day comes, we step out of the shade

aflame and unafraid. [rhyme]

The new dawn blooms as we free it. [metaphor]

For there is always light. If only we’re brave enough to see it.

If only we’re brave enough to be it. [rhyme][anaphora]

The Ben and Laura Jig

Performed by Ben Hockman

A Psalm of Life — Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

A Psalm of Life

Tell me not, in mournful numbers,
Life is but an empty dream!—
For the soul is dead that slumbers,
And things are not what they seem.

Life is real! Life is earnest!
And the grave is not its goal;
Dust thou art, to dust returnest,
Was not spoken of the soul.

Not enjoyment, and not sorrow,
Is our destined end or way;
But to act, that each to-morrow
Find us farther than to-day.

Art is long, and Time is fleeting,
And our hearts, though stout and brave,
Still, like muffled drums, are beating
Funeral marches to the grave.

In the world’s broad field of battle,
In the bivouac of Life,
Be not like dumb, driven cattle!
Be a hero in the strife!

Trust no Future, howe’er pleasant!
Let the dead Past bury its dead!
Act,—act in the living Present!
Heart within, and God o’erhead!

Lives of great men all remind us
We can make our lives sublime,
And, departing, leave behind us
Footprints on the sands of time;

Footprints, that perhaps another,
Sailing o’er life’s solemn main,
A forlorn and shipwrecked brother,
Seeing, shall take heart again.

Let us, then, be up and doing,
With a heart for any fate;
Still achieving, still pursuing,
Learn to labor and to wait.

Pangur Bán — An eighth century monk and his cat

Translated from the Irish by Robin Flower:

The scholar and His Cat, Pangur Bán’

I and Pangur Ban my cat,
Tis a like task we are at:
Hunting mice is his delight,
Hunting words I sit all night.

Better far than praise of men
Tis to sit with book and pen;
Pangur bears me no ill-will,
He too plies his simple skill.

Tis a merry task to see
At our tasks how glad are we,
When at home we sit and find
Entertainment to our mind.

Oftentimes a mouse will stray
In the hero Pangur’s way;
Oftentimes my keen thought set
Takes a meaning in its net.

Gainst the wall he sets his eye
Full and fierce and sharp and sly;
Gainst the wall of knowledge I
All my little wisdom try.

When a mouse darts from its den,
O how glad is Pangur then!
O what gladness do I prove
When I solve the doubts I love!

So in peace our task we ply,
Pangur Ban, my cat, and I;
In our arts we find our bliss,
I have mine and he has his.

Practice every day has made
Pangur perfect in his trade;
I get wisdom day and night
Turning darkness into light.

English translation by W. H. Auden:

Pangur, white Pangur, How happy we are
Alone together, scholar and cat
Each has his own work to do daily;
For you it is hunting, for me study.
Your shining eye watches the wall;
My feeble eye is fixed on a book.
You rejoice, when your claws entrap a mouse;
I rejoice when my mind fathoms a problem.
Pleased with his own art, neither hinders the other;
Thus we live ever without tedium and envy.