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Disaster Poetry

Commemorate national tragedies in verse
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In years gone by, disasters of various sorts were commemorated in song or verse by bards of the day. Perhaps the best known (for the wrong reasons) example is William McGonnagle's `Tay Bridge Disaster'. It is unfortunate that this work, often ridiculed due to McGonnagle's poetic incompetence, brings the genre into disrepute, for there are many other better examples, both in poem and song.

I think that one of the duties of the poet laureate, who seems to do little to earn his keep, should be to compose poems which express the public's grief after tragedies such as the Paddington Rail Disaster, or the sinking of the Herald Of Free Enterprise.

Mickey the Fish, Sep 14 2000

DIY Global Disaster http://www.halfbake...0Evil#968901047-3-1
For when you need inspiration. [centauri, Sep 14 2000, last modified Oct 04 2004]

The Tay Bridge Disaster http://www.taynet.c.../mcgon/disaster.htm
Text of McGonnagle's epic [Mickey the Fish, Sep 14 2000, last modified Oct 21 2004]

Ellen Vannen Tragedy http://www.acronet....shanty/elenvann.htm
A song commemorating the loss of the Isle Of Man packet boat. [Mickey the Fish, Sep 14 2000, last modified Oct 21 2004]

Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald http://www.gunther....v/data/wreckoft.htm
Link to Lightfoot's ballad. [Mickey the Fish, Sep 14 2000, last modified Oct 21 2004]

George Gordon, Lord Byron. http://www.englishh...poems/destruct.html
"The Destruction of Sennacherib". [Scott_D, Sep 14 2000]

(?) The Onion http://www.theonion...nion3634/index.html
Malmsteem has a middle name [thumbwax, Sep 14 2000, last modified Oct 21 2004]

(?) Flowers of Manchester http://www.manchest...utiful/flowers.html
About the Munich air crash, thie still brings a lump to my Mancunian born throat. [Mickey the Fish, Sep 14 2000, last modified Oct 21 2004]

George Gordon, Lord Byron. http://www.englishh...poems/destruct.html
"The Destruction of Sennacherib". [Scott_D, Oct 04 2004, last modified Oct 21 2004]

DIY Global Disaster DIY_20Global_20Cata...0Evil#968901047-3-1
For when you need inspiration. [centauri, Oct 21 2004]

HAVE YOU HEARD ANY WORD OF THE ICEBERG? http://www.angelfir...eblair/lyrics50.htm
Lines on the Titanic wreck, by Les Barker [Mickey the Fish, Mar 01 2011]

The above "Onion" link is broken, but the pieces assembled lead here... http://www.theonion...iddle-name-to,8842/
[normzone, Mar 01 2011]

Blue Oyster Cult's Godzilla lyrics http://www.sing365....dc848256a1000088535
[theircompetitor, Mar 12 2011]

Kraftwerk: Radioactivity http://www.youtube....watch?v=kXD6Gtinvbc
Tschernobyl. Harrisburg. Sellafield. Hiroshima… [Ian Tindale, Mar 13 2011]

[link]






       Gorden Lightfoots "Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald", is the last ballad of this sort, I recall, outside Rice and Webber's operatic forays. To long for corporate radio, I suppose. You'd have to tell the story in three minutes or so, and throw in some gratuitous sex, to get any airplay on radio. There is a bit of a rennisance going on in mp3 format right now, particularly for political themes, and a market for folk music and bardic traditions exists there. I always end up composing hymn's for some reason...
Scott_D, Sep 14 2000
  

       Great white bird, Up in the sky, It seems you can no longer fly.
DrBob, Sep 15 2000
  

       Bob Dylan, I believe, significantly shifted this genre, away from heroic and semi-mythical themes toward social criticism and existentialism. Pink Floyd, "Animals", "The Wall", and Rodger Waters, "Amused to Death" spring to mind, among myriad others - including The Stones and Jimi Hendrix, and more recently, Pearl Jam, and the "grunge" movement. Poetry meantime, has gone mostly existential.   

       "The Night Chicago Died", is another disaster epic I recall getting airplay. Meanwhile, there are many more links to Ada Byron than Lord Byron (see link) - perhaps it's time for a Romantic revival.   

       The dittoheads came down like wolves on the fold
spewing fatuous, self righteous claptrap on both young and old...
Scott_D, Sep 15 2000, last modified Sep 16 2000
  

       Tin soldiers and Nixon coming / we're finally on our own / this summer I hear the drumming / four dead in Ohio. [Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young]   

       Not world's best lyrics, but works very well as a song.
jutta, Sep 15 2000
  

       I thought of doing that CSNY, Stephan Stills song, "Stop children whats that sound..." (what's the name of that?) - as a rap song, but I had to wait for a real rapper to think of it. I also played Dylans, "Knockin on Heavens Door" as a reggae song way before Guns and Roses, although it's appearently a fairly obvious transition - Tom Verlaine and Television did it long before G&R as well.   

       Don't get me wrong, I think G&R is a talented band, and I like Slashes melodic approach a lot better than "Malmsteen" style pyrotechnics - in concert, I couldn't distinguish Malmsteens guitar from his brothers keyboards, and the high point of the concert for me was a flawlessly reproduced Hendrix tune - I wished he'd take a more improvisational approach to the Hendrix style though - if anybody could write an operatic rock album, it's Malmsteen, though for me his music suffers from, as I said, an emphasis on technical prowess over melody, dynamics and composition. Have I gone far enough into left field?
Scott_D, Sep 15 2000
  

       Scott_D- the song you're talking about ("Stop, children, what's that sound", etc...) is called 'For What It's Worth' , and was actually done by Buffalo Springfield.   

       Jeez- the CSNY song referred to the Kent State riots over 30 years ago. Didn't know they still even the song.   

       Here's another disaster song: "The Last Resort" by the Eagles. Don't think so? Get a copy of the lyrics, then try going for a trip to Aspen or Vail, Colorado. Hunter S. Thompson has also done a few articles on this as well (and he's also Don Henley's neighbor, which explains a bit.).
BigThor, Sep 16 2000
  

       Thats right, "For what it's worth". I'm still gonna arrange that as a rap song one of these days, if I find a really mad beat, although now that I think about it, I keep hearing Fred Schneider singing it, so maybe not.   

       Mentioning Buffalo springfield reminded me of "Broken Feather", another Buff disaster (sort of) tune, that one by Neil Young, who also wrote "Cortez the Killer" which of course reminds me of Hendrix's "Can You See Me", then "1983, A Mereman, etc", another classic disasterish Hendrix tune, as well as "Machine Gun", another anti-war tune. Another Neil tune I always liked in the social critique vein was "Don't Let it Bring You Down", and of course the classic Eighties anthem, "Rockin' in the Free World", echoed in SRV's "Crossfire". Whoops, the Madonna version of Don McLeans "American Pie" just came on - lotsa social criticism, old folkie bands and some dead rockers - but not much in the way of disaster other than economic - plane crashes and earthquakes just aren't as Romantic as sinking ships I guess...
Scott_D, Sep 16 2000
  

       The one song that comes to my mind is 'Smoke on the Water'.
DrBob, Sep 18 2000
  

       Hey - we're already grasping at straws here, Peter.
Scott_D, Sep 18 2000
  

       Deep in the darkness of my nebulous childhood memories I seem to have stored fragments of a song on one of the tapes my mom used to listen to. The only name I can think of for the singer is Carly Simon, but I'm not positive that's who it was. I never found out what the song was about, but it related the tale of a group of people held hostage by gunmen. A disaster ballad if I've ever heard one. Anyone know what I'm talking about?
centauri, Sep 18 2000
  

       The 1913 Massacre by Woodie Guthrie is another along these lines; the story of Mining Union Christmas celebration where the Mine managers set fire to the building and all the miner's children who were upstairs died.   

       I put it and a bunch of other old folk tunes on a compilation CD I made...
ElectraSteph, Oct 03 2000
  

       What about when Elton John adapted "Candle In The Wind" after Princess Di's car crash?   

       Although at the time I felt that was kind of cheesy, why not write her a whole song, he WAS working under serious time pressure...
andreamer, Oct 04 2000
  

       Hey Scott_D [and anybody else for that matter] check out my link.
thumbwax, Oct 04 2000
  

       Disaster Haikus, anyone?
(with apologies to Dr Bob):

White Bird flies faster,
Small metal strip on runway
White bird burns brighter.
hippo, Oct 04 2000
  

       Ahh, ya just had to go and pigeonhole...
thumbwax, Oct 04 2000
  

       We miss Mickey the Fish.   

       I've read his ideas, wish he were still with us.
DesertFox, Dec 25 2005
  

       "Sweet dreams and flying machines in pieces on the ground "   

       I think I heard that on the radio sept 12, '01. Tears leaked from my eyes.   

       If I could, I'd try & do "Masters of War" by Dylan on the air as a re-make. I can't. Maybe someone else will.   

       1st draft crap, but here goes:   

       When we picked up the cards
We knew life would be hard
Every step a tempting of fate
  

       We made due the best we can
Tried to lie about our hand
to ourselves and our empty plates
  

       A thousand faces, a thousand roles
praise dice and dominoes
fourty 'n others who got us by
  

       In the quiet fragile dance
softened by beauty and romance
prejudged livin' and dyin'
  

       Azreal came here to smack
our face and our poor shack
For too long going along accepting
  

       Eyes hurt open wide cryin'
Our own love defyin'
Katrina a mess New Orleans made
  

       Katrina, Katrina, hear the call
The Catylist of the fall
Beautiful City, where Inequity raged.
  

       I hope someone, someday writes a biting reply.
Zimmy, Dec 26 2005
  

       + on the idea, btw.
Zimmy, Dec 26 2005
  

       :: I came, I trembled, They cried ::   

       With my sympathies to the people of New Zealand.
django, Mar 02 2011
  

       tsunami waves ’bye
Fukushima Daiichi
China syndrome risk.
Ian Tindale, Mar 12 2011
  

       We wait for Quetzalcoatl
The harbinger of doom
Destruction, nearly total
Is racing to entomb
  

       Our age, however brutal
It’s nonetheless our own
And I must say, though futile
We reap that which we’ve sewn
theircompetitor, Mar 12 2011
  

       sewn?
MaxwellBuchanan, Mar 12 2011
  

       under poetic license :)
theircompetitor, Mar 12 2011
  

       Springtime; Tsunami;
Earthquake; Nuclear explosion;
- await Godzilla
hippo, Mar 12 2011
  

       Good haiku. Alas!
One too many syllables.
Unless it's "nooklar".
MaxwellBuchanan, Mar 12 2011
  

       Chain reaction and
mutation, contaminat-
ed population!
  

       (from Kraftwerk’s Radioactivity (the 1990’s version, not the original 1977 version) - see link to vid).
Ian Tindale, Mar 13 2011
  

       Hiromitsu Shinkawa

Amidst the floating, matchwood debris
A man floats with his house, out to sea.
Though well past his vigorous youth
He’s a survivor, adrift on his roof.
DrBob, Mar 14 2011
  
      
[annotate]
  


 

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