Wednesday, March 05, 2008

I bleed. I rise. I fight again.

One Life-Lesson you oughta know by now: change is inevitable. Life is change.. Life is NOT polaroid anymore...

Listening to radio and watching teevee Tuesday I came across three unrelated stories from unrelated sources. In all three instances, reporters were asking Barack Obama supporters about the "Change" he promises. "What Change?" No one was able to answer - everyone was able to either change the subject or slip away into the crowd. A political career is usually built on some kind of substance with a dash of character.

The title of this post comes from a New York Magazine article entitled "The Un-Reformed," in which State Senate Majority Leader Joe Bruno quotes poetry. Bruno personifies character. NYmag has an excellent spread on Bruno, who faces political extinction right now. It's a great article! Here's a snippet:
His first job was at a bakery. He carried trays of pastries to the factory workers for their morning shifts. His pay was what they didn’t eat. In school, he was a failure. “They sort of kicked me along, you know? I told Sister Rose Madeline I wanted to be an altar boy. She laughed at me. Nothing worse. She said, ‘He’s too dumb.’ ” On summer afternoons, he learned to box. A middleweight met him in the park. “He’d get down on his knees and I’d circle around him and he’d wear out his pants circling on his knees. He taught me to punch straight and lead with your left. These kids that used to bloody my nose, I kicked the shit out of them.”

That’s about the time he met Barbara—known as Bobbie. He was 14. She was 13. They met one night at the YMCA, playing Ping-Pong. This was 1947, and Bruno’s job was driving an ice truck. Her father was a surgeon and chief of staff at the hospital, and didn’t approve of him. “Her father said the only way he’d agree to our getting married was if I would live there while I was in college.” He enrolled in Siena College and drove the ice truck to class.
"I bleed. I rise. I fight again." There are words very like the Bruno quote in a very old, very long ballad called 'Sir Andrew Barton': ‘Fight on, my men!’ says Sir Andrew Barton, ‘I am hurt, but I am not slain; I’le lay me downe and bleed a-while, And then I’le rise and fight again. The quote is verse LXIV; the whole thing can be seen online in the Oxford Book of Ballads on Bartleby.

The two lines "I'll lay me downe and bleed awhile,
Then I'll rise and fight again" were also used as a refrain in the poem 'Alastair Buchan', written by the author John Buchan in memory of his brother killed in the First World war.

Text may be read here and also in The Oxford Book of Ballads (OUP, 1969), The Viking Book of Folk Ballads of the English Speaking World (Viking, 1956), and English and Scottish Popular Ballads (Houghton Mifflin, 1932).

By the way : I think NYmag's timeline is off... it is 2008, Bruno will soon be 79, which would have made him 18 or 19 in 1947... comments, anyone?

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