Friday, September 12, 2008

Poetry Friday

Since I'm in Philly for the weekend, I thought a poem about a famous Philadelphia resident, Benjamin Franklin, would be appropriate. Ben Franklin is a favorite adopted Pennsylvanian, and I think he would have been a fun(ny) guy to meet. My favorite Franklin story is of the time when he and John Adams had to share a room (and of course bed) with each other. Adams was sick, and Franklin insisted that having the window open would be good for the illness. Adams believed the cold air would make it worse. I have always had a picture in my mind of Adams and Franklin in their pjs, one jumping out of bed to shut the window, and once he got into bed, the other got up and opened it. This would turn into some kind of Laurel & Hardy routine of both of them standing there, clonking each other on the head.

My husband tells me that a former professor once told him that during the Consitutional Convention, Franklin would go out drinking at the end of the day, and he would get a little too talkative, so other conventioners had to accompany him in order to make sure he kept his mouth shut about what they were doing. I have never seen this in print, though. But it's another interesting picture of ol'Ben. Washington or someone saying, ok, ok Ben...I think you've had enough claret. Now for the poem:

On the Death of Dr. Benjamin Franklin by Philip Freneau

Thus, some tall tree that long hath stood
The glory of its native wood,
By storms destroyed, or length of years,
Demands the tribute of our tears.

The pile, that took long time to raise,
To dust returns by slow decays:
But, when its destined years are o'er,
We must regret the loss the more.

So long accustomed to your aid,
The world laments your exit made;
So long befriended by your art,
Philosopher, 'tis hard to part!–

When monarchs tumble to the ground,
Successors easily are found:
But, matchless Franklin! what a few
Can hope to rival such as you,
Who seized from kings their sceptered pride,
And turned the lightning darts aside.

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