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Old 11-23-2018, 07:15 PM
Mary Meriam's Avatar
Mary Meriam Mary Meriam is offline
Join Date: Nov 2005
Location: usa
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I assume everyone knows "Ring Around the Rosie" is a coded reference to the Black Plague in the mid-1300's. That's old. I'm not sure school shootings are old like that, and I wonder if there's another adjective altogether besides old or new? I like the title, the epigraph, and the poem. Good revisions. "Bring out your dead" has a Shakespearean ring to it.
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Old 11-24-2018, 09:47 PM
Patrick Murtha Patrick Murtha is offline
Join Date: Jan 2018
Location: Kansas
Posts: 217


"Bring out your dead"--for a sober poem, that line does not work, at least for me. Since "The Search for the Holy Grail," it is more of a laugh line. Monty Python had destroyed any possible soberness or sense calamity that might have been associated with it. It may yet work for a satire.

It seems that the poem is trying to bring together a similarity between the ashen crosses and the cross hairs. But if the symbolism of the ashen cross is properly understood, it stands opposed to the cross hairs of a rifle.


Last edited by Patrick Murtha; 11-24-2018 at 10:01 PM.
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Old 11-25-2018, 01:37 PM
Susan McLean Susan McLean is offline
Join Date: Jul 2001
Location: Iowa City, IA, USA
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Thanks for the additional responses.

Siham, I am glad to hear that my explanation of what I was trying for made sense to you.

Mary, I too had heard the connection of the child's song "Ring around the rosie" (I'm giving the American version I grew up with) to the Black Plague, though a bit of research has convinced me that that is more a common association than a connection that the evidence supports. But the phrase "ashes, ashes" connects to "ashes to ashes" whether we want it to or not, so the song has always had macabre overtones to me. Part of the point I am trying to make through the poem is that, though school shootings may feel like a recent phenomenon, they are tied to a history of widespread gun violence that is anything but new. So I am not willing to abandon "old plague," even though I can see why some readers object to it.

Patrick, I am familiar with Monty Python and the Holy Grail, and I do know well the scene you are referring to. But "bring out your dead" was the cry of the people who manned the actual plague carts. For me, the satirical use of the cry makes it memorable, but does not cancel out the serious meaning of the phrase. However, I can see that some people will be able to hear only the humor in the recent use of the phrase and not the grim meaning it once had. I do thank you for sending me back to my dictionary to check whether "cross hairs" is one word or two. I had seen it both ways, but had forgotten to check before. I had also seen "gun sight" written both ways.

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Old 11-25-2018, 07:54 PM
Erik Olson Erik Olson is offline
Join Date: Apr 2015
Location: Portland, OR
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I thought to register how I read that most interesting last verse. I heard ‘bring out your dead’ as a cry with the vague possibility of it having been historically used during some plague or other and thus apart from Monty Python; but also tinged by that sketch from The Holy Grail since, after all, the utterance is among the group's most quoted. But the iteration in the context of gun violence proves effective satire: Because, in the first place, the cry exposes the absurdity of mass-shooting deaths become so frequent that the dead might as well be collected unceremoniously thus like recycling; in the second place, because the sarcasm of echoing some medieval plague of the worst decimation voices a response of exasperation very human and natural to those who have long had no choice but to watch more and more dead in consequence.

Such is the power of the NRA, that while shootings of mass-death become seemingly a tri-weekly event, no senator raises a finger to stem the flow of shotguns, laser optics, full-blown grenade launchers, silencers designed for assassinations, hollowpoint-rounds that defeat police armor, and military-grade assault rifles to the public. A fully automatic rate of fire is illegal for a rifle. Yet, inexplicably, a device like the Hell-Fire trigger is ATF legal, never mind it gives fully automatic fire to submachine guns. So sacrosanct is the gun worship and so powerful the you-know-what, that no senator will touch such loopholes with a ten-foot stick, however egregious to common sense and expensive to human life, lest they commit political suicide. These are pent-up frustrations over the plague that continues un-prevented.


Last edited by Erik Olson; 11-26-2018 at 05:43 PM.
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