A Tale of Two Archers

Here is an old poem from my undergrad days. Not the best, but it is one of my favorites.

A Tale of Two Archers
by Ryan Clevenger

One bright morning, with the rising of the sun
Great archers have gathered—a tourney begun!
Then at their stations, each archer made ready,
In order to win one needs arms steady.

Now, the bows bent back, such a sight to espy,
When loud signal horn blew, great arrows did fly!
Descending on targets—a bull’s eye, a miss!
(The winner awaited fair maidens kiss).

The tourney continued ‘til there were but two,
Given such worship for what knights are due.
But, lo! there arose, twixt them a dispute,
So enraged they were that no one would shoot.

The King then stood and did cry a command,
That each archer continue, least they be damned.
“But, Sire,” said one, “this other doth speak
That arrow ne’er hits the way that we think!”

“’Tis true,” said the other, “this is what I hold,
That reason would prove, if I dare be so bold,
To travel a length half way and half more,
—continue to listen, please, I implore—

“When the arrow doth travel straight through the air
It can only ever be half its way there.
Take a number and divide it by half,
Continue on so and you’ll start to laugh.

For then thou wilt see none e’er can reach zero
(Go right on and try to be thou the hero)
But as for me, I do now rest my case,
To think arrow hit be a fool’s mistake.”

To this the King did give a consenting sigh
“He is right, you know.  Oh, how foolish am I!
With knowledge so new, this tourney is done,
Go back to your homes, the winner is none.”

“Please wait, O, my King,” the first man was shouting,
“Give ear to my cause o’er this cynics doubting!
His reason is sound, and this is all right,
But what of faith and trust beyond mere sight?

I know what I see, though my senses may fail,
Therefore, I must but trust and let faith prevail.
Lo! reason is good, but not all the way,
For faith doth finish, what reason didst lay.”

The King then did pause and considered at length,
Of the living by faith, and not by ones strength.
Yet, the first man’s plea, though strong as it was,
Suffered not reasons calculable cause.

And again, with a sigh, the King did consent
What reason proved not, to the fire it went!
“I cannot allow what reason can’t see,
For in doing so a fool I would be.”

Tourney was over; the sun would retire,
But in the first man, there kindled a fire!
He spoke to fair maiden, “I will not miss.”
Then he delivered loves faithful first kiss.

A Ballad of Abbreviations – G. K. Chesterton

A Ballad of Abbreviations

The American’s a hustler, for he says so,
And surely the American must know.
He will prove to you with figures why it pays so
Beginning with his boyhood long ago.
When the slow-maturing anecdote is ripest
He’ll dictate it like a Board of Trade Report,
And because he has no time to call a typist,
He calls her a Stenographer for short.

He is never known to loiter or malinger,
He rushes, for he knows he has “a date”;
He is always on the spot and full of ginger,
Which is why he is invariably late.
When he guesses that it’s getting even later,
His vocabulary’s vehement and swift,
And he yells for what he calls the Elevator,
A slab abbreviation for a lift.

Then nothing can be nattier or nicer
For those who like a light and rapid style,
Than to trifle with a work of Mr. Dreiser
As it comes along in waggons by the mile.
He has taught us what a swift selective art meant
By description of his dinners and all that,
And his dwelling, which he says is an Apartment,
Because he cannot stop to say a flat.

We may whisper of his while precipitation,
That its speed is rather longer than a span,
But there really is a definite occasion
When he does not use the longest word he can.
When he substitutes, I freely make admission,
One shorter and much easier to spell;
If you ask him what he thinks of Prohibition
He may tell you quite succinctly it is Hell.

-G. K. Chesterton, “A Ballad of Abbreviations,” in G. K. Chesterton Collected Works Volume X Collected Poetry Part 1 (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1994), 426-427.