On this day in 1799 the greatest American statesman George Washington died, ‘First in war, first in peace and first in the hearts of his countrymen’. In France, Napoleon declared ten days of mourning – Washington had after all, shown the French how to do revolution.
A man of great physical strength, his favourite sport was fox-hunting. He had trouble with his teeth from an early age and had several sets of false teeth made but was often in pain from toothache – some of this distress is said to be evident in portraits, including the likeness on the one dollar bill.
Today’s poem is an oddity – a sonnet that was written in 1936 by David Shulman. Perhaps not the greatest in style, it is an anagrammatic poem – in this case, a 14-line rhyming sonnet, in which every line is an anagram of the title. An extraordinary work about an extraordinary man, Washington Crossing the Delaware:
A hard, howling, tossing water scene.
Strong tide was washing hero clean.
“How cold!” Weather stings as in anger.
O Silent night shows war ace danger!
The cold waters swashing on in rage.
Redcoats warn slow his hint engage.
When star general’s action wish’d “Go!”
He saw his ragged continentals row.
Ah, he stands – sailor crew went going.
And so this general watches rowing.
He hastens – winter again grows cold.
A wet crew gain Hessian stronghold.
George can’t lose war with’s hands in;
He’s astern – so go alight, crew, and win!
Today I ask that I may learn from the power of example shown by upright men and women and that I too may be an example to others.