Saturday, February 6, 2010

MELODY IN F (Author unknown)

Dear Reader: This is an excerpt from my book, HEADING HOME -- Essays and Poems, by Steve Moore (although this is the one "poem" in the book that isn't mine -- read explanation below. Feel free to read, copy, quote and enjoy it! Someday in heaven we'll find the clever guy who put these words and thoughts together in such a wonderful -- and hilarious -- way...and then we can congratulate him. He did a fine job of staying within the point of view presented by Pastor Mark (of Sierra Bible Church, Sonora, CA)in his series on the Prodigal Son, which says we really don't know what the older brother -- or even the younger brother, for that matter -- did after receiving such grace from their father. The "rest of the story" is written in the individual lives of you and me. The only thing we know for sure (even more than "death and taxes") is that we have a benevolent, loving Father, who always welcomes us back (the FUGITIVE), and welcomes us in (the FAULT-FINDER). And that's got to be the best lesson, among the many lessons, of this parable of our Lord. But I tend to favor the positive hint this author gives at the end: Not telling us the "feather brained fellow" actually received the full pardon offered to him by his "far-sighted and faithful father" -- nevertheless he says the foundation was laid for this boy for some wonderful "future fortitude." Who would not receive the grace of our great "prodigal God" (prodigal in the sense of His extreme and surprising unconditional love for mankind) Hopefully...surely...not you or I!

Someone might say this poem isn’t really a poem, because it doesn’t rhyme. But then another might say, “I took a poetry class, where I learned that poems don’t have to rhyme. So it IS a poem, a different kind of poem called “Free Verse.” But to that person I would have to say, “I’m afraid you missed it, too!” Though it’s true that some of the best poetry doesn’t rhyme, still there are certain characteristics required for a poem to qualify as free verse, of which this work has none. But I’m still including “Melody in F” in my book of poems because it has “the endearing quality of telling a story with a very clever use us words that tickles the ears even while it inspires the heart and informs the mind” (another good definition of poetry, by the way). The ear-tickling technique used in this poem is a hilariously extreme use of a literary device called alliteration: the repetition of consonant sounds at the beginning of words. This is comparable to rhyme, which is the repetition of vowel and consonant sounds at the end of words. I call this poem mine, not because I wrote it, but because it’s one I “do” – you know, like at parties…or at church services! That’s right, this poem has that rare quality of being not only inspiring but entertaining, too. And it’s G rated: acceptable everywhere. It presents the lesson of forgiveness and reconciliation that Jesus told, but in a way to make even the most bored church member or hardened unbeliever laugh right out loud, in spite of themselves. This is the first reaction, but then, if they’re not careful, they’ll find themselves sitting up and taking notice concerning the truth it contains. I wonder, if Jesus were a standup comedian, appearing before an English speaking crowd, if He would tell this favorite parable by means of the “Melody in F”! Back in my college days I came across this poem in a published compilation called PHIL KERR’S FAVORITE POEMS. Phil didn’t know who wrote it, either, but the author had to be a wordsmith of the highest order. Or maybe he was a man with just an average knowledge of vocabulary, but enabled to pull off a poem like this one by the aid of an uncanny use of the dictionary – no doubt aided by an endless flow of caffeine-laden coffee! Hats off to Mr. Anonymous for giving us this delightful tongue-twister that both tickles the ears with the desire to hear it again and again, and also inspires the heart to quit running from God, but turn around and run back to Him, knowing He’s ready and rarin’ to throw a party…nastily needling naysayers notwithstanding! (Editor’s note: An analysis of this poem reveals the use of 117 words beginning with the letter F, with very few of them used more than once. The word beginning with “F” that IS repeated several times, very appropriately, is the word Father. There are only 24 other words used in the poem, and most of these are simple prepositions and pronouns, contributing almost nothing to the content, but present mainly just to aid the flow. This poem reveals another fascinating bit of trivia: the English language seems to have quite a love affair with the letter F, as it has with no other letter. I discovered this quite by accident, through my failed attempt to write an alliterative poem on the Prodigal Son with an alternate letter of the alphabet. And speaking of F words, isn’t it refreshing how “The F Word” never needed to be used here. It never does, in any context, print or conversation, in my humble opinion! The apostle Paul encourages us to “not be overcome with evil, but to overcome evil with good” (Romans 12:21). Memorizing and then reciting the “Melody in F” at every appropriate opportunity would be a good start at overcoming evil both in choice of words, and in nurture of relationships, replacing the evil of foul and offensive language with this good and very funny rendition of the story of God’s restorative forgiveness and love. And so now, for your listening pleasure, I give you…

(The Prodigal Son)

Feeling Footloose and Frisky, a Feather-brained Fellow
Forced his Fond Father to Fork over the Farthings,
And Flew Far to Foreign Fields, and Frittered his Fortune
Feasting Fabulously with Faithless Friends.

Fleeced by his Fellows in Folly, and Facing Famine,
He Found himself a Feed Flinger in a Filthy Farmyard.
Fairly Famishing, he Fain would have Filled his Frame
With Foraged Food From Fodder Fragments.

“Fooey! My Father’s Flunkies Fare Far Finer,”
The Frazzled Fugitive Furtively Fussed, Frankly Facing Facts.
Frustrated by Failure, and Filled with Foreboding,
He Fled Forthwith to his Family.

Falling at his Father’s Feet, he Forlornly Fumbled,
“Father, I’ve Flunked, and Fruitlessly Forfeited Family Favor!”
The Far-sighted Father, Forestalling Further Flinching,
Frantically Flagged the Flunkies to
Fetch a Fatling From the Flock and Fix a Feast.

The Fugitive’s Fault Finding brother
Frowned on Fickle Forgiveness of Former Folderol.
But the Faithful Father Figured,
“Filial Fidelity is Fine, but the Fugitive is Found!
What Forbids Fervent Festivity?
Let Flags be unfurled! Let Fanfares Flare!

Father’s Forgiveness Formed the Foundation
For the Former Fugitive’s Future Fortitude!

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