105 Ways to Give a Book

Poetry Friday: The Miller's Son

Good Masters! Sweet Ladies!When Good Masters! Sweet Ladies! Voices from a Medieval Village, by Laura Amy Schlitz, won the 2008 Newbery Medal, I wasn’t confident that kids would pick up this book and read it if it weren’t assigned. It is an interesting book of poems as stories. I enjoyed the look into the lives of the medieval people, and I liked how the tales were connected. But it seems more of a classroom book than a pleasure book. I’m wondering now that it’s had a chance to reach the public, what do kids think of it? Anyone know?

When I read it at the beginning of the year on a particularly moody day, I copied part of a poem to use for Poetry Friday (today at Wild Rose Reader). I haven’t felt like posting this cynical, hopeless poem until this week, when the Republican convention and Sarah Palin have me feeling rather cynical and hopeless.

Otho The Miller’s Son
Father is the miller
As his father was of old,
And I shall be the miller,
When my father’s flesh is cold.
I know the family business —
It’s been drummed into my head:
How to cheat the hungry customer
And earn my daily bread.

Oh, God makes the water, and the water makes the river,
And the river turns the mill wheel
and the wheel goes on forever.
Every man’s a cheater, and so every man is fed,
For we feed upon each other,
when we seek our daily bread.
Of course, there’s more to the poem about how everyone from field to mill to bakery cheats and nothing ever changes. And there’s more to my thoughts on the RNC and Palin, about how everyone lies and nothing ever changes.

I have to say that this week I feel like I’m in a bad dream or Bizarro World or even 1984 (“We’ve always been at war with Eastasia”). The candidate touting experience as the most important qualification for president picks an inexperienced running mate. Long-time Washington insiders are talking about shaking up Washington. The party in charge is running as the party of change. Palin tells us that she respects her daughter’s “decision,” but doesn’t see the connection to choice. She asks us to leave her family out of the discussion, but she uses them as her main talking point. The Republican party says they represent real Americans, but the convention was one big hall of white people in a country that is nearing a majority of minority populations. And perhaps most disturbing for me, I’m agreeing with most of a Krauthammer column. Up is down! Hello is goodbye! Prada is Payless! This perpetual state of cognitive dissonance is making my head hurt!

(Deep breath. Watch Change video. It’s going to be okay. I hope.)


tanita✿davis said...

Breathe, MR. Breathe...

I still haven't read this book. It galls me, but I LOVE all the selections I've read from it.

It's so...cynical.

Anonymous said...

Preach it, sister.

She called Bristol's pregnancy a "choice," after advocating that kids should only be taught abstinence, and that nobody should ever get an abortion. Um, sex=pregnancy should have gone out the window when Margaret Sanger started talking. WTF? Oh. And don't get me started on the way she advocating defecation on the Constitution. Not using that term, of course. It sounded like "McCain is for capturing Al Qaeda while Obama is only concerned with making sure someone reads them their rights". But it's code for "it's okay to search & seize, suspend habeus corpus, detain citizens without trial, detain foreigners and torture them," and more.

I prefer to find my centre by focusing on the positives: it is clear that the right-wing folks in the media (FOXNews anyone?) are big ol' hypocrites; that McCain is very old (and looking older by the day); that Palin is in trouble (they hide her from the press, and every day this week something new has cropped up that makes her look bad); that Barack Obama is a good guy (no attacks on Palin's family, but I think they're preparing to rough her up on other issues); that change can really happen, and that my recent contribution to the Obama campaign means I've got a T-shirt and some buttons and a car magnet and a yard sign on the way.

Oh. Sorry. I am easily provoked into rant mode this week as well.

ElsKushner said...

I found my positive centre by moving to Canada. But now I have nothing to threaten to do if McCain wins: cry, maybe?

Also: I love love love that poem. It might be my favorite one in the collection, which is saying a lot. I found myself reciting the refrain ("Oh, God makes the water, and the water makes the river...") when watching the end of Season 1 of "The Wire," which, if you see it, holds basically the same message.

Dunno why eloquently expressed hopeless cynicism make me so happy, or at least deeply aesthetically satisfied, but it just does. So thanks for reminding me of that one.