Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Wagon Train, Longfellow and my favorite bridge

In 1839, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow published a collection of poems under the title "Voices of the Night." But I never knew anything about that collection until the early 1970s when I was watching a "Wagon Train" rerun that ended with Major Adams quoting from part of one of those poems. Its title was "A Psalm of Life", and the part he quoted went like this:

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.

That is all I remember about that particular episode. The poem lay buried in my memory until the early 1980s, when I worked every Sunday afternoon and evening at the newspaper in Huntington WV. Every now and then photographer Tim Grobe would bring the city editor a photo of something he saw that day, and it was my job to say something about it. It could be factual or interesting, preferably both. Sometimes I did puns. Sometimes I tried writing something based on the opening of a famous novel. If that novel was one my executive editor had not read, he would mark up the paper the next day asking "What the ...?"

For the longest time, I hoped Tim would bring us a photo of the East End Bridge, which was under construction at the time I was working Sundays. But he never did. I had written a little verse based on Longfellow's poem that Major Adams had quoted. I so much wanted to use it as a caption in a photo, but I never got the chance.

Maybe everything worked out for the best, as I managed to stick around there another 25 years before they kicked me out in a downsizing.

So here is picture of the bridge of my own taking and the poem.

Bridges are real! Bridges are earnest!
   And uncrossed rivers fit not their plan;
From rust thou art to rust returnest,
   Was not written of concrete spans.

Okay, that's the end of poetry on the Ohio River Blog.

No comments: