Thursday, April 26, 2007

Don't Read Into Brad Childress' Choice of Poem!

April is National Poetry Month, and hey, that's great. We support poetry here, mainly because we're a bunch of liberal arts pansies. I personally think that if you do one thing with your day today, you should read my favorite Paul Durcan poem.

It it thanks to the Pacifist Viking that I knew Brad Childress, apparently looking to grab onto the Marv Levy's mantle of the Intelligent Football Coach, took part in a Poetry Reading at the new ultra-library in Minneapolis.

I didn't know the poem Childress chose. And that is saying something. I hold a BA in English Literature. I focused on poetry. I know what William Carlos Williams was up to, and what Wallace Stevens was all about. When I saw Nikki Giovanni on the TV last week, my first thought wasn't "Who is that?" but "What the fuck is Nikki Giovanni doing in Blacksburg, VA?"

So I don't feel odd saying that I wasn't familiar with Brad Childress' choice of poem, "The Bridge Builder" by Will Allen Dromgoole*. I had never heard of Dromgoole. But according to Wikipedia (I know, I know)...Will Allen is a Lady!

Her poem "The Bridge Builder" is often reprinted and remains quite popular. It has even graced plaques on real bridges such as the Bellows Falls--Vilas Bridge in Connecticut. It continues to be quoted frequently, usually in a religious context or in writings stressing a moral lesson. It is also a favorite of motivational speakers.

So now it becomes to come clear why a NFL coach would love a specific poem, passed on to him by his coach. It's MOTIVATIONAL! And it teaches a moral lesson. I bet it is quite artistic, though. Just kidding. It's probably crap.

But enough--let's look at the poem, and what it means to Vikings fans.

The Bridge Builder

An old man, going a lone highway,
Came, at the evening, cold and gray,
To a chasm, vast, and deep, and wide,
Through which was flowing a sullen tide.

[OK, so the rhyme scheme is a basic aabb, even if it kills me, rhyme scheme. I already know why I didn't ever study this particular poem. But what is Childress getting from it so far? A man, past his prime, faced with crossing a gulf. No big deal--he's on a highway. Surely there is a bridge?]

The old man crossed in the twilight dim;
The sullen stream had no fears for him;
But he turned, when safe on the other side,
And built a bridge to span the tide.

[Wait, how did the old man get across if there wasn't any bridge? Was the old man so powerful that he could swim over a chasm with water in it? Wouldn't that require swimming in the air? Again, this poem is crap]

"Old man," said a fellow pilgrim, near,
"You are wasting strength with building here;
Your journey will end with the ending day;
You never again must pass this way;
You have crossed the chasm, deep and wide
-Why build you the bridge at the eventide?"

[In Childress' mind, the fellow pilgrim is probably Mike Tomlin. Dammit Tomlin, you don't know that your job when you magically get a job that you don't deserve (like flying over a chasm's 'tide') is to build a bridge for the next person behind you, you stupid ungrateful dick!]

The builder lifted his old gray head:
"Good friend, in the path I have come,"
he said,"There followeth after me today
A youth, whose feet must pass this way.
This chasm, that has been naught to me,
To that fair-haired youth may a pitfall be.
He, too, must cross in the twilight dim;
Good friend, I am building the bridge for him."

Watch out Vikings fans. Brad Childress believes that he is working for the next coach, the "youth, whose feet must pass this way." He sees himself as a bridge-builder, and therefore he can do no wrong. He's working for the future!

As someone who knows poetry, this poem strikes me as the work of an unimaginative dullard. Only hacks write a series of couplets, and only really really big hacks give up that rhyme scheme for only one line. If I were a Vikings fan, I'd be quite worried about the subtext of this poem. Distill these 20 lines, and what you get is, "I'm paving the way for the next guy." Beware of guys building for the future, NFL fans. They are planning on losing today. I'd also be worried that my supposed really super-smart coach picked this poem as his favorite. Bad sign, Viking fans. Your coach ain't very smart.


Badcock said...

So the fella in the poem crossed "the sullen stream." Yet the youth would be pitfalled by the chasm.

This makes me think that the next Vikings coach is going to be Steve Spurrier, Jr.

Miwacar said...

Book smarts in a football coach is like a whore with a good makes for good converstation, but its nothing to do with why your with her (or him Badcock).

Jess said...

I don't know a thing about poetry, but I know that poem is crap. Which is pretty much what I think of the Vikings, too. It's nice when things work out like that.

Jerious Norwood said...

I like Jess' style. Not very introspective or deep, and not afraid to put it right out there for the world to see. Me, personally, I like to hide my shame behind a sadly transparent veneer of pomposity and vitriol. But hey, different strokes for different strokes. I mean badcock and monkey-boy profess to like the Redskins for Christ's sake. You can only imagine.

Big Blue Monkey said...

JN, if you enjoy Jess' style, than maybe you should check out her blog, at

Badcock said...

At least one of you two offenders graduated from the Harvard of the Mississippi. At least one of you was an English major.

The possessional form of "Jess" is "Jess's." As in, "Lay off Mike Vick, those are Jess's pitbulls."

If there were two people named Jess in possession of pitbulls, it would be Jesses'.

For more help, ask a sixth grader.

Jess said...

Thanks, JN. I actually broke up with the Vikings last year, so I'm very open about my feelings toward them these days. And thanks for pimping my blog, BBM.

I thought both Jess' and Jess's were acceptable. I find the "'s" more aesthetically pleasing, personally, so I never use the former. But I went to a public higher education institution, so what do I know?

Big Blue Monkey said...

Badcock, either form is acceptable, and goodness, if you are so smart, why aren't said smarts demonstrated anywhere on this site, aside from your (failed) grammar policing, ya cock-knocker?