Saturday, June 14, 2014

That Time of Year

Back from a high school commencement, about our dozenth such occasion in our couple hood, if you count a few eighth grades and a least one University.  This one was down on the Central California coast and the weather, which does not always cooperate, was on its best behavior. Which is a blessing: three thousand devoted progenitors on bleachers together for three or so hours in the blazing sun broiling like so many mackerel--now that is a sight not to behold.

Others idled the time away gossiping, blowing whistles, tossing balloons and suchlike, but me, I chose to marvel on the oddity of such a spectacle: all that sitzfleisch  devoted to waiting the occasion to yell, or shout, or whistle, or cowbell, at the sound of just one name.   it is further proof, if any be needed, that parenting such like are activities that take insane devotion. Forget about the tuition bills  (I dare you) and stand awe-stuck at the present of those who forged these little Pol Pots into halfway passable trial-run, human beings.

I sound snide. Very well, I usually sound snide. But the fact is I rather enjoy it all.  Which is odd in that I never went to my own commencements (if I could escape it) and it never occurred to me that anyone else would want to.  Because the throngs, the stamina, the enthusiasm, the general air of Gemütlichkeit is something you couldn't cut with a bandsaw.   Reminder to self, be sure to book hotel room now, before it's too late, so we can go through the same exercise again next year.

But an afterthought: one thing I can't figure out is where it was that the great designators assigned the role of "commencement song" to that down-market imitation  Händel snow-stopper, "Pomp and Circumstance"?   Wiki is no help on the provenance, although it does weigh in with the words:

       Land of Hope and Glory, Mother of the Free,
            How shall we extol thee, who are born of thee?
            Wider still and wider shall thy bounds be set;
            God, who made thee mighty, make thee mightier yet,
            God, who made thee mighty, make thee mightier yet.

Wiki offers countless recommendations.  Here's he iconic Gracie Fields:


The New York Crank said...

Oh dear, we at Erasmus Hall High School, Brooklyn, New York, never bothered with musical scribblers as trifling as Handel. We had our own worshipful alma mater, written by a faculty member who left this earth about a century ago.

The song was about twice as un-singable as The Star Spangled Banner. If Erasmus Hall produced great pop singers like Barbara Streisand and Lanie Kazan (and it did), it might be because once they had tangled their vocal chords around our school's song, nothing, but nothing, could defeat their voices.

As for the lyrics – oi vay! The Lyrics!

Talk about tortured and unintentionally comic metaphors, and forced rhymes! Better yet, try to sing them:

Old gray school we knew so well
On us all thy blessings fell
Men and women born of thee
Breathe the air that makes us free.
Alma mater blessed one...farewell!

Being forced to listen to that accursed song, time after time after time, may have contributed to my somewhat irritable nature.

Yours very crankily,
The New York Crank

Lindsay Berge said...

Edward Elgar wrote the Pomp and Circumstances march with words by A.C. Benson for the coronation of King Edward VII.