I am sharing a poem that I wrote while teaching British Literature, specifically, Beowulf. When teaching the Old English epic poem, (like most teachers teaching this poem) I required my students to write and read aloud an original “Boast.” Their poem needed to be written in similar format to the translated version, it needed to make use of Anglo-Saxon poetic devices, such as alliteration, kennings (compound expressions), and caesuras (pauses), it needed to be boastful, and if possible, the poem needed to honor lineage. I was always the first reader before my students began reading their boasts. My boastful poem* references one of my ancestors, Edward Rippy; his history and historical connections were discovered by my mom, through her dedicated genealogy research. *Version below modified to fit blog.
Although ironic that I am referencing an Old English poem on the same day that Americans celebrate independence from the monarch of Britain, I am sharing my boastful poem because it reflects many motifs that represent Independence Day: victory, emigration, courage, survival, sacrifice, family, lineage, honor, and freedom, including freedom to pursue passions. These motifs are certainly not exclusive to the American culture.
The blood flowing through me is my life-force,
without which I cease to be. Although my own,
the crimson-colored container is a gift.
A gift from ancestors whose path led to me.
One of many, in the links of my past,
Edward Rippy, landing ashore in 1730,
Twelve generations before.
Edward Rippy, descendent of LeSieur La Rippere;
A Norman Knight who fought for William the Conqueror,
in the Battle of Hastings. Rippy, disowned
By his Irish kin for seeking faraway primitive lands.
Ireland, a distant dot in the dreams of his past.
One of many, whose blood and sacrifice flowed to me.
A second lineage of European blood,
Whose family settled in snowy Saskatchewan,
Where Northern Lights glow. Charles Wilcox,
who earned high marks on his academic pursuits,
Whose mind and imagination soared
With the turning of each new page.
The quiet reader who put down his books,
Picked up a machine gun and fought in a war.
From the battlefield, he carried away a Nazi armband and his life intact.
For the American lives he saved, a Bronze Star was his prize.
His name forever listed alongside his heroic and selfless acts.
From those brave men, who survived the immense Atlantic and
Bullets blasting bones, descended a granddaughter.
A woman of quiet strength, who shares common glistening green eyes
That love to read and observe. Granddaughter of Charles, Michele Lee —
The peace-maker, the deep-thinker, devoted-teacher, and loyal friend to many.
A wielder of woodwinds and a dancer who delights in movement and music.
A scholarly disciplined mind, with degrees of distinction bestowed.
A traveling seeker who found her forever home in one with soulful eyes.
Nurturer to many, mother to one. Born of natural childbirth,
An artist from her first breath. A free-spirited, hazel-eyed gifted girl
Who shares her mother’s passions for learning, justice,
And always asking why. Shared eyes and shared blood that,
Behind their reticent nature, seek adventure and new lands to explore.
Blood that pumps, pulsates, and pounds
When skies are pointed down a snowy hill, or
Gliding across the glassy water, or
Surfing along the coast, or
Swimming with sea turtles in the waters of Maui, or
Moving along the fast-flowing current of the Mighty Rogue River.
Michele Lee, magnificent modern molder of burgeoning minds.
If you are up for a sampling of Beowulf, visit Project Gutenberg for your free copy. 😄📖⛵⚔🐉 Beowulf digital copy
Thank you for visiting my blog and reading my boastful poem that connects me to my heritage. If you have never written a boastful poem, I encourage you give it a try. 📝Whether you are in America celebrating Independence Day, or elsewhere, I hope you have a wonderful weekend. 😃 Michele
Being a Woman – Overcoming, Poetry Chapbook is available through Amazon~ reflective and witty poems and beautiful original drawings (my poems and my daughter’s illustrations). 💕
Picture 1: Atlantic Ocean (photographer, Ricardo Esquivel) Pictures 2-4: My Grandfather Charles Wilcox (World War II Army Veteran) Picture 5: “Take Me Home Huey” Project (visit https://takemehomehuey.org/ for more information about this incredible artistic and healing restoration.
Copyright © 2020 Michele Lee Sefton. All Rights Reserved.