Saturday, January 10, 2009

Tennyson & the Governor of Illinois

“One equal temper of heroic hearts, made weak by time and fate, but strong in will to strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield," said Rod Blagojevich, the impeached governor of Illinois, quoting Tennyson’s poem, Ulysses.

I wonder if the governor has actually read the entire poem and if he understands its meaning. Tennyson wrote Ulysses, in part, as a tribute for a dear friend who had passed away. In the poem, Ulysses is old, reflecting on his life and its approaching end. Tennyson’s words have great meaning when repeated by an old warhorse like Ted Kennedy. They make no sense at all when spoken by a 52-year old - unless he is eulogizing his own career. I assume Blagojevich hoped to give the impression of a fighter, someone who goes down swinging.

The entire Blagojevich situation is unfortunate but this writer is particularly rankled that the governor so glibly uses words to which he has no connection. He conveys, yet again, that he does not think about what he is saying. As much as his expletives offend, so does his use of Tennyson.

"We are not now that strength which in old days moved earth and heaven; that which we are, we are.”

That much is true, Mr. Blagojevich. You are what you are.

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