.

Today I will be turning seventy,
An age I’ll claim with some temerity.
I’ll welcome it with both serenity
And sober, grave, austere solemnity.

I’d hoped to celebrate my destiny
By jotting down some lines of poetry.
But RhymeZone claims with full-blown certainty,
“There is no word that rhymes with ‘seventy.’”

With sage, salubrious celerity
I set aside the words “obscenity,”
“Celebrity,” and “biochemistry,”
While also nixing the word “levity.”

Because it went from bad to worse, I said,
“Perhaps I’ll write it in blank verse, instead!”
So now, without a rhyme for “seventy,”
I’ll pour myself a cup of Devon tea.

.

.

James A. Tweedie is a retired pastor living in Long Beach, Washington. He has written and published six novels, one collection of short stories, and three collections of poetry including Mostly Sonnets, all with Dunecrest Press. His poems have been published nationally and internationally in The Lyric, Poetry Salzburg (Austria) Review, California Quarterly, Asses of Parnassus, Lighten Up Online, Better than Starbucks, WestWard Quarterly, Society of Classical Poets, and The Chained Muse.


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37 Responses

  1. Vivienne Parry

    Can anyone tell me which of Keats poems “two souls with but a single thought, two hearts that beats as one” comes from?

    Reply
    • James A. Tweedie

      Vivienne, You ask a difficult question. Although the quote is attributed to Keats there is no source ever given for the citation. This morning I have searched in vain through every poem and letter penned by Keats and cannot find it anywhere. I suspect it is a misattributation).

      The one place the quote does appear is in a play by the German writer Friedrich Halm, first published in 1849 under the title Der Sohn der Wildniss” (or, in one citation the play’s title is given as “Der Fechter von Ravenna.”)

      The play was translated into English by Maria Lovell with the title “Ingomar the Barbarian.” The play became very popular in the United States (Mark Twain wrote a review of it in 1863).

      The quote in questions appears at the end of Act II. Since the quote is known in it’s English form, it should be sourced as originating from Halm, trans. Lovell. Act II closes as follows (after a brief conversation between Ingomar and Parthenia concering love):

      Parthenia. (…) A song my mother sang, an ancient song, That plainly speaks of love, at least to me. How goes it? Stay

      [Slowly, as trying to recollect.]

      ‘What love is, if thou wouldst be taught,
      Thy heart must teach alone,
      Two souls with but a single thought,
      Two hearts that beat as one.’

      ‘And whence comes love? Like morning’s light,
      It comes without thy call;
      And how dies love?—A spirit bright,
      Love never dies at all!’

      And when –and when—

      [Hesitating, as unable to continue.]

      Ingomar. Go on.

      Par. I know no more.

      Ing. (Impatiently) Try Try.

      Par. I cannot now; but at some other time I may remember.

      Ing. (Somewhat authoritatively) Now, go on, I say.

      Par. (Springing up in alarm.) Not now, I want more roses for my wreath! Yonder they grow, I will fetch them for myself. Take care of all my flowers and the wreath!

      [Throws the flowers into Ingomar’s lap and runs off.]

      Ing. (After a pause, without changing his position, speaking to himself in deep abstraction.)

      ‘Two souls with but a single thought,
      Two hearts that beat as one.’

      The curtain falls.
      END OF ACT II.

      Reply
  2. Julian D. Woodruff

    What a romp, Mr. Tweedie! And you really deliver at the end: the one, as far as I can tell, rhyme for seventy (extra points if there is such a regional variant of tea). (Of course, you know, in Chicago, it’s “Devonne” to many.)
    Happy birthday!

    Reply
    • James A. Tweedie

      Thanks, Julian, for catching my desperate, convoluted attempt to create a rhyme for a word that supposedly didn’t have one! Next year, at 71, I will be able to claim that I am in my “prime.”

      Reply
  3. Jeff Eardley

    Mr Tweedie, it is quite a milestone but a sad realisation that “Three score and ten” have gone. I was there a year ago and have now accepted that 70 is the new 40 which rhymes with lots of things.
    Many Happy Returns, have a great day and keep on keeping us smiling.

    Reply
    • James A. Tweedie

      Jeff,
      Thank you for welcoming me into the club. In regards to how my body feels this morning, I might, however, prefer to call it the “old 40!”

      Reply
    • Margaret Coats

      Let me offer a birthday party invitation from the days when 50 was what 70 or perhaps 80 is now, written by Eustache Deschamps in French, that runs:

      Come salute my jubilee,
      I have passed my fiftieth!
      Good times now are quick to flee;
      Come salute my jubilee!

      You may not remember me,
      Worse for wear and out of breath;
      Come salute my jubilee,
      I have passed my fiftieth!

      And, James, best wishes for staying on the jubilant side today and for many happy returns.

      Reply
  4. Paul Freeman

    You say there’s naught that rhymes with seventy,
    yet your next birthday is sixty-eleventy!

    Happy birthday.

    Reply
  5. paul buchheit

    Very clever, James. You did a good job of rhyming ‘seventy’!

    Reply
  6. Susan Jarvis Bryant

    James, as far as I am concerned “Devon tea” is the perfect rhyme for seventy. It conjures dreams of faraway lands of scones, clotted cream, strawberry jam, Earl Grey and joy… a perfect celebratory afternoon, in fact.

    Here’s wishing you a wonderful birthday and a beautiful, poetry-filled year ahead!

    Reply
    • James A. Tweedie

      Susan,

      Ah, yes! the clotted cream! I remember being hosted for lunch at a Devon pub where I asked for some local cider. I was then presented with a list of 27 local ciders to choose from!

      Thank you for your good wishes.

      Reply
    • Margaret Coats

      Susan is quite right that Devon tea is an excellent rhyme referring not to the beverage, but to the style of celebration. And in this case it is very important to know what you are doing, because if you happen to put jam on the scone before the clotted cream, it becomes a Cornish tea. Take care to observe due order exactly as Susan has said–clotted cream and then jam–and have a very happy 70th birthday!

      Reply
      • Susan Jarvis Bryant

        Margaret, I love your explanation on the cream teas and simply have to admit that I partake in a Devon style tea even when I visit Cornwall. I must put the clotted cream on first otherwise it’s apt to slip off the jam. The clotted cream acts as a spread of butter to its fruity topping and this type of layering is much more pleasing to my eye. I’m dancing to my own tune on more than just the poetry front… I am certain I’ll pay for my transgressions at some stage. lol

  7. Mike Bryant

    James, Happy Birthday…
    I’m only about six months behind you. I’m starting to think of some of those big numbers palindromically. That way you’re only Seven (07) this year… next year you’re Seventeen! That’s pretty exciting.
    Anyway I figure we’ve got plenty of years to enjoy all the wonders of this beautiful planet.
    James, perhaps you could concoct your own brand of tea, like “Reverend Tea”…

    Reply
    • James A. Tweedie

      Mike, I like the palindromic idea. I also like the Once and Future King idea where Merlin grows younger each year!

      Reply
    • James A. Tweedie

      Everyone had better do as James says lest you be ball and chained like Mr Toad and locked up in one of those dreary English gaols (somewhat similar to Hellward, an equally dismal, dreary place of which Mr Sale is quite familiar).

      Reply
  8. Tonia Kalouria

    Happy Birthday! And thanks for your fun poem of
    Honestea:-)

    Reply
  9. Sally Cook

    Happy Birthday , Seventy!
    Insofar as I can see
    Your knowledge is One Hundred One
    Your spirit must be .Thirty-Seven !
    .Years aren’t the same for every one;
    .With luck, we’ll meet again in Heaven.

    Reply
    • James A. Tweedie

      Lol

      Sally. Thanks for the birthday pome–and for the good wishes which I reflect back atcha!

      Reply
  10. Damian Robin

    Happy Today, James.

    There’s laughter from the ceiling
    There’s rolling round the eaves
    There’s humor in Darjeeling
    And giggling up our sleeves

    For here’s your poem of plenty
    Though its start was element’y
    The quest to find an ent’ty
    That rhymes with your age seven’ny

    Well done with the comments on and reading of your steamy Tango poem earlier today. May you live as long as your Mum and longer, all in good health.

    Good luck
    Damian

    Reply
  11. Leonard Dabydeen

    HAPPY BIRTHDAY, James. Welcome to the club. With 2 years behind in my stride, Old Age is yet to come … a long way to catch up some. Enjoy your poem celebration. Best Wishes.

    Reply
  12. David Watt

    Happy birthday James. May you continue to entertain readers and listeners for many years to come.

    Reply
  13. James A. Tweedie

    Every comment and birthday wish is greatly appreciated. Thanks to all of you who took the time to do so. In reply I shall do my best to apply the cream before the jam!

    Reply
  14. Cynthia Erlandson

    Great humor! If you haven’t seen it yet, you would get a kick out of Dr. Seuss’ “You’re Only Old Once.” On the back cover, it says something about turning 70.

    Reply

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