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March 17th, 2004

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07:48 pm - mid snow and ice
Nothing like a little tale from ol' Hank W. Longfellow to illustrate what it was like walking around this afternoon.

The shades of night were falling fast, 
As through an Alpine village passed 
A youth, who bore, 'mid snow and ice, 
A banner with the strange device, 

His brow was sad; his eye beneath, 
Flashed like a falchion from its sheath, 
And like a silver clarion rung 
The accents of that unknown tongue, 

In happy homes he saw the light 
Of household fires gleam warm and bright; 
Above, the spectral glaciers shone, 
And from his lips escaped a groan, 

"Try not the Pass!" the old man said; 
"Dark lowers the tempest overhead, 
The roaring torrent is deep and wide!" 
And loud that clarion voice replied, 

"Oh stay," the maiden said, "and rest 
Thy weary head upon this breast! " 
A tear stood in his bright blue eye, 
But still he answered, with a sigh, 

"Beware the pine-tree's withered branch! 
Beware the awful avalanche!" 
This was the peasant's last Good-night, 
A voice replied, far up the height, 

At break of day, as heavenward 
The pious monks of Saint Bernard 
Uttered the oft-repeated prayer, 
A voice cried through the startled air, 

A traveller, by the faithful bound, 
Half-buried in the snow was found, 
Still grasping in his hand of ice 
That banner with the strange device, 

There in the twilight cold and gray, 
Lifeless, but beautiful, he lay, 
And from the sky, serene and far, 
A voice fell like a falling star, 

It should also interest absolutely no one that my LiveJournal title is indirectly inspired by this poem; my favorite personality in the history of radio, Jean Shepherd, used "Excelsior, you fathead!" as a catchphrase. He called it a password and it was used to identify true Night People (fans of his nightly 45-minute radio monologue, for one.) The counter-sign for the password, in case you ever needed to know, was "seltzer bottle."

(3 comments | Leave a comment)


[User Picture]
Date:March 17th, 2004 06:15 pm (UTC)
When I'm on Jeopardy, I'll used this to win. Just you watch.
[User Picture]
Date:March 17th, 2004 10:47 pm (UTC)


Unfortunately, whenever I see the phrase now, the first thing that pops into my head is the Worst Erotica of All Time:

"Excelsior!" cried Stan Lee, as Spidey's nipples went *spung*.

(Somebody on ifmud came up with that. Damned if I can remember who. It was probably you, come to think of it.)
[User Picture]
Date:March 20th, 2004 01:47 am (UTC)

Re: Exelsior!

I would have had to wash the Evil off with a brillo pad had I come up with that one.

Lordy, but that's a goodun. If Evil.

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