Monday, January 20, 2014

Betrayal and the Beast

This is the only line of this
famous poem that I know.
In seventh or eight grade my English teacher gave us a chance to earn some extra credit by memorizing a poem she handed out and reciting it after class.  I hate speaking in front of people (even if it's just to one person), so I passed on the extra credit.  My friend Lillian, however, was always a go-getter and wasn't about to let an extra ten points slip through her fingers.  Good for her.  So I put aside my fears of public speaking, total failure, and my general feeling that I am unable to learn anything and helped my friend memorize the assigned poem.

She was a little nervous when she stood in front of the teacher to recite the poem, so I sat at a desk in the back of the room to provide moral support.  She spoke passionately, made it through the entire thing with only one slight hesitation and victoriously received her ten extra points.  I remember the teacher asking me if I was going to go for the extra credit as well.  "No," I said, "I'm here for moral support.  I can't remember the poem."

Well, that was a lie, because 20 years later I can still rattle that poem off without a hitch.  I wonder if I can still get my ten points?

You know you read it.
No matter.  I was thinking about that poem today because Facebook is exploding with poetry.  If you "like" the poem that is posted, the poster will assign you an author and you have to post a poem written by that person.  I have intentionally not "liked" any of the poems because, aside from my seventh grade extra credit, the only other poems I know by heart are written by Dr. Seuss, Sandra Boynton, or Shel Silverstein.

I wrote down the words to the poem and, since we live in an amazing time, I decided to look up the author on my iPhone.  It's a wonderful time to be alive, isn't it?  I was hoping I would be able to impress people by rattling off a poem by one of the greats like E. E. Cummings or Tennyson.  I was horribly disappointed.

The "poem" that I had accidentally memorized, the one that has been seared into my brain for the past
two decades, was a song written by a country singer named Lisa Angelle and was apparently the theme for the TV series Beauty and the Beast that ran on CBS from 1987 to 1990.  Apparently, my English teacher was less concerned about us learning classic literature and more concerned with hearing the title song to her favorite prime time drama!  It was a freaking THEME SONG!! A Theme song from a show about a disfigured, sub-terrainian noble man-beast who falls in love with John Connor's mom!

Terrible!  Just terrible!  I feel betrayed.  And even worse, I've gone and listened to the music that goes along with the "poem" and it's just awful! How will I ever get this horrible thing out of my head?

I know, I'll hum the theme song to Bewitched and then the theme to I Dream of Jeanie.  That always works. 

How did this pass for literature in my English class?  I've said it before and I'll say it again; My parents deserve a tax credit for the public education I received. 

The lyrics, written by memory with my personal, jaded commentary:

The first time I loved forever
Was when you whispered my name
And I knew at once you loved me
For the me of who I am.
                                                                      (Oh, please!)
The first time I loved forever
I cast all else aside
and bid my heart to follow
be there no more need to hide.
                                                                      (Big mistake, Sister!)
And if wishes and dreams
are merely for children
and love's a tale for fools
I'll live the dream with you.
                                                                      (Living as a foolish child.  Good call.)
For all my life and forever
There's a truth I'll always know
When my world divides and shatters
You're love is where I'll go.
                                                                     (Yeah, riiiiggghhht.)