Friday, November 5, 2010

The Finest Hour

Previously, I've experimented with making a poem out of fiction prose. This time, I'm using nonfiction. By Winston Churchill, to be precise. The point of this, really, is to spend some time with his language. To listen to him, differently, intently.

The Finest Hour
by Winston Churchill

Of this I am quite sure,
that if we open a quarrel
between the past
and the present,
we shall find that we have lost the future...

The whole fury and might
of the enemy
must very soon
be turned on us.

Hitler knows
that he will have to break us
in this Island
or lose the war.

If we can stand up to him,
all Europe may be free
and the life of the world may move forward
into broad, sunlit uplands.

But if we fail,
then the whole world,
including the United States,
including all that we have known and cared for,
will sink into the abyss
of a new Dark Age
made more sinister,
and perhaps more protracted,
by the lights of perverted science.

Let us therefore
brace ourselves to our duties,
and so bear ourselves
that if the British Empire and its Commonwealth
last for a thousand years,
men will still say,
'This was their finest hour.'

June 18, 1940


* Hear an excerpt of Churchill's Finest Hour speech (You have to listen a while to get to the part I used)
* More speeches with a lesson plan
* Previous prose-poems I've done include Not the End of the World, Rose, and Dandelion Fire.
* A "delicious" poetry post from earlier this week

Usually I start with a quote, but this time I will end with one:

Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen.
~ Winston Churchill

The Poetry Friday round-up today is at Teaching Authors.


Mary Lee said...

This is a great way to get deeply inside the meaning of his words.

Susan T. said...

That's cool! Great idea. Churchill's words lend themselves to some very powerful poetry here.

Andromeda Jazmon said...

Wonderful way to hear it again. What great potential this form of poetry has for all of us! Thanks for sharing this.

Tabatha said...

Thank you, Andi, Susan, and Mary Lee! I've been calling them experimental prose poems, but I could call them "found poems," couldn't I? "Found" sounds like a nice way to describe the discovery of them, as they wait within their books and speeches.


I did the same thing once on the anniversary of one of Dr. Martin Luther King's speeches. His speeches were very poetic to begin with, so it didn't take much work on my part to make a found poem.

Found poems are such fun, aren't they? --Diane

Author Amok said...

This is great, Tabatha. My son's doing a WW2 project for National History Day. These words stand up beautifully today.

M Pax said...

Very poignant and powerful. Timeless. Great job.

laurasalas said...

Love this, Tabatha. I lean more toward science than history, but I loved this found poem. Powerful words, and they made me want to read more about him. Thanks for sharing!

Amy L V said...

Wow, Tabatha. It seems that putting in those line breaks helps us to read it, to slow down, to listen. Thank you for sharing this. I think it could be very useful for teachers, helping children to listen carefully for the meaning and the accents in a poem. I loved reading this on my Poetry Sunday...