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The Battle of Waterloo

'Twas in the year 1815, and on the 18th day of June,
That British cannon, against the French army, loudly did boom,
Upon the ever memorable bloody field of Waterloo;
Which Napoleon remembered while in St. Helena, and bitterly did rue.
The morning of the 18th was gloomy and cheerless to behold,
But the British soon recovered from the severe cold
That they had endured the previous rainy night;
And each man prepared to burnish his arms for the coming fight.

Then the morning passed in mutual arrangements for battle,
And the French guns, at half-past eleven, loudly did rattle;
And immediately the order for attack was given,
Then the bullets flew like lightning till the Heaven's seemed riven.

The place from which Bonaparte viewed the bloody field
Was the farmhouse of La Belle Alliance, which some protection did yield;
And there he remained for the most part of the day,
Pacing to and fro with his hands behind him in doubtful dismay.

The Duke of Wellington stood upon a bridge behind La Haye,

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Punks Rock

I want my french-fries, I need my french-fries
I want my french-fries, I need my french-fries
I want my french-fries, my french-fries, my french-fries
I want my french-fries, french-fries
I want my ketchup, I need my ketchup
I want my french-fries with the ketchup, and salt and salt and ketchup
I want my french-fries, french-fries

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Not Ashamed Of Being Ashamed

Some Frenchmen are ashamed of being French,
while others are ashamed that those who are ashamed aren’t proud;
though nowadays it’s hard to be a mensch,
it’s harder to oppose opinions of the madding crowd,
as well as those espoused by the elite,
which turns a blind eye to the problems of identity,
opining that a nation should backbeat
traditions and become an obsolete nonentity.

Devorah Lauter writes an article about French identity politics in the LA Times, December 14,2009 (“As the French debate their identity, some recoil”) . The allusion to the Swiss minaret poll brings to mind my poem “Swiss Minarets, ” which Huffpo chose not to put on its blog. Lauter writes:
It was one of a series of government-run public debates aimed at defining the values that constitute French national identity. But in this middle-class suburb west of Paris, the discussion last week quickly turned into a cacophony of hot-tempered accusations. Rather than give his version of what it means to be French, an invited speaker, historian Jean-Yves Mollier, attacked his host (who sat stone-still a few feet in front of him) for supporting the national dialogue. Mollier said the ongoing debates represent none other than Vichy-style propaganda attempting to 'stigmatize' those who don't fall into France's ruling native caste, in this case mostly French Muslims of immigrant origin. Mollier and several other attendees proceeded to walk out. Meanwhile, two actors disguised as avid participants launched into a faux back-and-forth. 'Today, I'm ashamed of being French! ' said one of the men, standing up to be heard. The other, jumping to his feet, replied, 'Excuse me, but I'm proud of being French, and you, you should be ashamed of being proud of being ashamed of France! ' 'It's a shame for France! ' shouted back the first. 'I'm proud of the shame I feel for people like you who are ashamed of being French! ' cried the second. In the crowd, one middle-aged man's face turned the color of his pink shirt. He termed the scene 'disgraceful.' Host Anne Boquet, the local police chief, expressed her hope that the dialogue would 'remind people of their Republican values and to respect authority.'

'The debates can introduce that respect, ' she said, and help 'define the face of France we like today.' That, it seems, may be a long way off. The 3-month-long national debate series, spearheaded by conservative President Nicolas Sarkozy and his minister of immigration, has been the subject of heated controversy since a late November vote in Switzerland to ban the construction of minarets on mosques. Sympathy for the Swiss vote here, according to polls, has helped focus the debates, which began in November, on widely held demands that Muslims do more to blend into French society. Polls show that a small majority in France favor a ban on minarets like the one the Swiss approved with a 57.5% majority.


12/14/09

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Sir Peter Harpdon's End

In an English Castle in Poictou. Sir Peter Harpdon, a Gascon knight in the English service, and John Curzon, his lieutenant.

John Curzon

Of those three prisoners, that before you came
We took down at St. John's hard by the mill,
Two are good masons; we have tools enough,
And you have skill to set them working.


Sir Peter

So-
What are their names?


John Curzon

Why, Jacques Aquadent,
And Peter Plombiere, but-

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Two cows deconstruct Derrida

These two cows were ruminating
and one says, I was listening
to the milkmaid’s transistor

and this French philosopher
was explaining that there’s
no English translation of the French word
‘betise’ except ‘stupidity’ but

‘stupidity’ only refers to man
where the French ‘betise’ means
to behave like an animal…

and the other cow says
well what’s wrong with that

and the first cow says
well his point is, English cows
can’t be stupid; only man
can be stupid..

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With French to Kimberley

The Boers were down on Kimberley with siege and Maxim gun;
The Boers were down on Kimberley, their numbers ten to one!
Faint were the hopes the British had to make the struggle good,
Defenceless in an open plain the Diamond City stood.
They built them forts from bags of sand, they fought from roof and wall,
They flashed a message to the south 'Help! or the town must fall!'
And down our ranks the order ran to march at dawn of day,
For French was off to Kimberley to drive the Boers away.

He made no march along the line; he made no front attack
Upon those Magersfontein heights that drove the Scotchmen back;
But eastward over pathless plains by open veldt and vley,
Across the front of Cronje's force his troopers held their way.
The springbuck, feeding on the flats where Modder River runs,
Were startled by his horses' hoofs, the rumble of his guns.
The Dutchman's spies that watched his march from every rocky wall
Rode back in haste: 'He marches east! He threatens Jacobsdal!'
Then north he wheeled as wheels the hawk and showed to their dismay,
That French was off to Kimberley to drive the Boers away.

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With French to Kimberley

The Boers were down on Kimberley with siege and Maxim gun;
The Boers were down on Kimberley, their numbers ten to one!
Faint were the hopes the British had to make the struggle good --
Defenceless in an open plain the Diamond City stood.
They built them forts with bags of sand, they fought from roof and wall,
They flashed a message to the south, "Help! or the town must fall!"
Then down our ranks the order ran to march at dawn of day,
And French was off to Kimberley to drive the Boers away.
He made no march along the line; he made no front attack
Upon those Magersfontein heights that held the Seaforths back;
But eastward over pathless plains, by open veldt and vley.
Across the front of Cronje's force his troopers held their way.
The springbuck, feeding on the flats where Modder River runs,
Were startled by his horses' hoofs, the rumble of his guns.
The Dutchman's spies that watched his march from every rocky wall
Rode back in haste: "He marches East! He threatens Jacobsdal!"
Then north he wheeled as wheels a hawk, and showed to their dismay
That French was off to Kimberley to drive the Boers away.

His column was five thousand strong -- all mounted men -- and guns:

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French Shoes

He was a good lookin guy
Stood about six foot three
Long brown hair
As nice as he could be
Everybody liked him
But he didnt have a clue
He looked silly as hell
In those funny french shoes
You know the type
Without any heels
Leather soles
Kind of a slip on deal
He was cavalier
Whether hed win or lose
But he looked silly as hell
In those funny french shoes
I know its not right
To judge a man by his clothes
By the way that he looks
Or the people he may know

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George Meredith

Grandfather Bridgeman

I

'Heigh, boys!' cried Grandfather Bridgeman, 'it's time before dinner to-day.'
He lifted the crumpled letter, and thumped a surprising 'Hurrah!'
Up jumped all the echoing young ones, but John, with the starch in his throat,
Said, 'Father, before we make noises, let's see the contents of the note.'
The old man glared at him harshly, and twinkling made answer: 'Too bad!
John Bridgeman, I'm always the whisky, and you are the water, my lad!'

II

But soon it was known thro' the house, and the house ran over for joy,
That news, good news, great marvels, had come from the soldier boy;
Young Tom, the luckless scapegrace, offshoot of Methodist John;
His grandfather's evening tale, whom the old man hailed as his son.
And the old man's shout of pride was a shout of his victory, too;
For he called his affection a method: the neighbours' opinions he knew.

III

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A Nail In Nicolas Sarkozy's Coffin

Will French
Socialist Party
challenger
François Hollande

attain pole position
defeat as expected
Nicolas Sarkozy
president of Republic?

We've got
a strong turnout
for today's
presidential election.

We estimate
the turnout
will stand at 82%
at least by 8pm.

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