You’re asked to recite a poem (or song lyrics) from memory — what’s the first one that comes to mind? Does it have a special meaning, or is there another reason it has stayed, intact, in your mind
Two poems spring instantly to mind, One is a very short nonsense piece which simply reads “The secret of the Polar Bear is he wears long underwear.” Which if we are being honest is not so much a poem as a couplet at best. I cannot recall why it has stuck in my mind for so long, I remember it being in a school poetry book called “Golden Apples” and I can clearly remember the illustration of a polar bear putting on a pair of Long Johns.
But another poem which I remember part of but not all was a very haunting poem called “What has Happened to Lulu?” It is told through the perspective of a younger sibling awaking to find his Mother crying and his/her sister Lulu mysteriously absent. With in the poem we get snippets of what has taken place in the previous twelve hours, with haunting images such as a ring where her money box was and distressed voices in the night, the thing which struck a chord with me was that the poem ends up as a series of unanswered questions and we are left with final unanswered question which is never answered… what did happen to Lulu? Many theories have been stated over the years and I don’t think there is an actual right answer. When I was younger I always got the impression Lulu had run away from home but thinking of the poem now I wonder if the titular Lulu had committed suicide. Only one thing is for certain, nobody does know what happened to Lulu.
Song? Easy Hoagy Carmichael’s evergreen ballad of lost love: Stardust. It’s warm and yet melancholy lyrics play a significant factor in my music life and own multiple versions of the song, both instrumental and vocal. I loved the tune long before I heard the lyrics and there is something about the chord structure which really packs a punch. While it has gone on record that Hoagy himself declares the version by Nat King Cole to be the definitive, for me it has to be the 1931 version by the old groaner himself, Bing Crosby.
Instrumental wise it has to be version by Tenor Saxophone player Coleman Hawkins with Django Reinhardt on Guitar and Stephane Grappelli on piano. It gives much wonderful noir-esque images of a black and white Parisian street scene.