Where angels fear to tread…

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…fools rush in. 

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Garrison Keillor, A Prairie Home Companion

In places like Like Wobegon and Minnesota Public Radio’s firing of A Prairie Home Companion creator and host Garrison Keillor for “inappropriate conduct” and MPR’s erasure of all things Prairie Home Companion. MPR will no longer air A Prairie Home Companion re-runs or Keillor’s thoughtful “Writer’s Almanac” and will give a new name to the show hosted by Keillor’s successor. If you opened the last link and it said “Page Not Found – NPR” you get the picture.

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President Trump and Roy Moore

Meanwhile the President of the United States gets elected after 20 women have accused him of sexual misconduct or harassment — and continues to deny all allegations as fake new, though he himself has been recorded as bragging about groping — while he and conservative evangelicals in Alabama support the candidacy of Roy Moore whose behavior is alleged to be more than “inappropriate”.

220px-Alexander_Pope_by_Michael_DahlIt was English poet Alexander Pope (1688-1744) who wrote the line “Fools rush in where angels fear to tread” in An Essay on Criticism that invites the reader to ponder which is worse: criticism of writing that “judges ill” or writing that is in “Want of Skill”?

‘Tis hard to say, if greater Want of Skill

Appear in Writing or in Judging ill,

But, of the two, less dang’rous is th’ Offence,

To tire our Patience, than mis-lead our Sense

Some few in that, but Numbers err in this,

Ten Censure wrong for one who Writes amiss;

A Fool might once himself alone expose,

Now One in Verse makes many more in Prose.

-Alexander Pope, An Essay on Criticism (1–8).

Fools — both writers and their critics — are rushing in where angels fear to tread. Views from the Edge just became one of the them. Sometimes fools can’t help themselves.

Wishing everyone a nice day from what little remains of the little fictional Minnesota town that just went the way of all flesh. Farewell to thee, Lake Wobegon. We can only wish the same or worse in the nonfictional places of Pennsylvania Avenue and the State of Alabama.

  • Gordon C. Stewart, Chaska, MN, November 30, 2017

Solitude

Steve Shoemaker wrote this lovely verse after reading Alexander Pope’s Ode on Solitude.

On Reading “Solitude,” written at age 12 by Alexander Pope.

In our time of celebrity
adulation, we all want fame.
To die unknown, not on TV,
will bring us shame.

Pope seems to love obscurity,
yet he is known 300 years
later for his great poetry.
I write with tears

my words will not ever be read
except on FaceBook by 10 friends.
No one will know me when I’m dead:
pride even ends.

 

– Steve Shoemaker, July 15, 2014

Editor’s Note: Steve’s verse arrives two weeks after his first cataract surgery and the morning after my latest hearing test. His eyesight is better than it’s been since he was eight, but he has no illusions of a return to the tender years when life lay all ahead waiting to unfold. Unlike Steve’s corrected eyesight, my hearing will not get better; it moves me ever deeper into silence and solitude, a gentle sort of preparation for the acceptance of death (obscurity) when there is no pride.

That Alexander Pope could write this at the age of 12 is astonishing. I’m going back to the Poetry Foundation for more of him, but today I’ll feast on Steve’s reading of him and the first stanza of Pope’s Ode to Solitude:

Happy the man, whose wish and care
A few paternal acres bound,
Content to breathe his native air,
In his own ground.

Click the link above (Ode on Solitude) for Pope’s poem on the site of The Poetry Foundation.

Thanks for coming by!

Gordon and Steve