The Ballad of the Children of the Czar

About my blog

I will post anything and everything that pops into my head as often as I can,  appropriate from my thinking. This is the most likely spot for He was the kind of guy, jokes, quotations, journal and diary entries. It is born free, as free as the wind blows (remember) which way? This starts to sound like FaceBook, and it would be my time better used. There will always be room for comments.

About will also be free, but I need to enlist paying subscribers usually to pay other artists to make the pages interesting enough to draw your eyeballs like the image by Murray Toews to the right, so Patreon is the place to subscribe to MLIP (also being considered as my spoken word persona), Listen, Here to support costs of the listening and writing project,  pain room,  and the New Revised Standard Version of Vicipedia. The old Vicipedia will be stuffed into the Archives with access limited to subscribers through Patreon or directly to my Website, my loyal first 50. 

“suggestion for an arrangement” by Charles Bukowski,  from his collection WAR ALL THE TIME – Poems 1981-1984 read by Victor Enns


Grace Paley writes:

My father had decided to teach me how to grow old. I said O.K. My children didn’t think it was such a great idea. If I knew how, they thought, I might do so too easily. No, no, I said, it’s for later, years from now. And besides, if I get it right it might be helpful to you kids in time to come.

They said, Really?

My father wanted to begin as soon as possible.


Please sit down, he said. Be patient. The main thing is this — when you get up in the morning you must take your heart in your two hands. You must do this every morning.

That’s a metaphor, right?

Metaphor? No, no, you can do this. In the morning, do a few little exercises for the joints, not too much. Then put your hands like a cup over and under the heart. Under the breast. He said tactfully. It’s probably easier for a man. Then talk softly, don’t yell. Under your ribs, push a little. When you wake up, you must do this massage. I mean pat, stroke a little, don’t be ashamed. Very likely no one will be watching. Then you must talk to your heart.

Talk? What?

Say anything, but be respectful. Say — maybe say, Heart, little heart, beat softly but never forget your job, the blood. You can whisper also, Remember, remember.





I keeping thinking of Get Smart, a sitcom from my youth. CONTROL good CHAOS bad in the Spy VS Spy vein during the cold war. Chaos also describes what I haltingly call my writing process. This will become evident in its expression in the remake of my website. I hope to stick to the new headings and just keep going while I stuff all the old material into my archives as I go. Relish has given me the basic set-up and will redesign the Front Page banner by the end of January. Murray Toews will be helping with the construction of the archives with some snappy images along the way.  I had a good start this morning but am fading fast.

Thursday, Oct 22, 2020

I realize my website fantasy will only ever  border on reality at best. I realize I want to blog for every heading in my banner. So for now, I am double posting my blog, aka my daily flog or fog until I can be sure the “first” blog has settled in under B in the archives. That’s not all, I plan to blog for “Listen, Here,” for sure and then create content unsteady as he goes for MLIP (My Life In Pieces) which will largely be video and audio podcasts, “pain room,”attempting to become an outsider art show, and annotate The complete Jimmy Bang,which now has many more new and blues poems the original 32 punk poems. And what to do with the Mennonite Book of the Dead, aka Dead Mennonites, Boundary Creek and What Men Do.

This old thing is my favourite poem by Delmore Schwartz, and in my top 100 favourite poems. This one is copied from the Poetry Foundation site, citation at the bottom.There may be many good pictures of Schwartz but I haven’t found them. These are from A blog by Padraig Colman.Lou Reed took a course from Schwartz in the 1960s and considered they were both poets from Brooklyn. I admire them. 

The Ballad of the Children of the Czar

The children of the Czar
Played with a bouncing ball.
In the May morning, in the Czar’s garden,  
Tossing it back and forth.
It fell among the flowerbeds   
Or fled to the north gate.
A daylight moon hung up
In the Western sky, bald white.
Like Papa’s face, said Sister,   
Hurling the white ball forth.
While I ate a baked potato   
Six thousand miles apart,
In Brooklyn, in 1916,   
Aged two, irrational.
When Franklin D. Roosevelt   
Was an Arrow Collar ad.
O Nicholas! Alas! Alas!
My grandfather coughed in your army,
Hid in a wine-stinking barrel,   
For three days in Bucharest
Then left for America
To become a king himself.
I am my father’s father,
You are your children’s guilt.
In history’s pity and terror   
The child is Aeneas again;
Troy is in the nursery,
The rocking horse is on fire.
Child labor! The child must carry   
His fathers on his back.
But seeing that so much is past   
And that history has no ruth
For the individual,
Who drinks tea, who catches cold,
Let anger be general:
I hate an abstract thing.
Brother and sister bounced   
The bounding, unbroken ball,
The shattering sun fell down   
Like swords upon their play,
Moving eastward among the stars   
Toward February and October.
But the Maywind brushed their cheeks   
Like a mother watching sleep,
And if for a moment they fight   
Over the bouncing ball
And sister pinches brother   
And brother kicks her shins,
Well! The heart of man is known:   
It is a cactus bloom.
The ground on which the ball bounces   
Is another bouncing ball.
The wheeling, whirling world   
Makes no will glad.
Spinning in its spotlight darkness,   
It is too big for their hands.
A pitiless, purposeless Thing,   
Arbitrary and unspent,
Made for no play, for no children,   
But chasing only itself.
The innocent are overtaken,   
They are not innocent.
They are their father’s fathers,
The past is inevitable.
Now, in another October   
Of this tragic star,
I see my second year,   
I eat my baked potato.
It is my buttered world,
But, poked by my unlearned hand,
It falls from the highchair down   
And I begin to howl.
And I see the ball roll under   
The iron gate which is locked.
Sister is screaming, brother is howling,   
The ball has evaded their will.
Even a bouncing ball   
Is uncontrollable,
And is under the garden wall.   
I am overtaken by terror
Thinking of my father’s fathers,   
And of my own will.
Delmore Schwartz, “The Ballad of the Children of the Czar” from Selected Poems (1938-1958): Summer Knowledge. Copyright © 1967 by Delmore Schwartz. Reprinted with the permission of New Directions Publishing Corporation,
Source: Selected Poems (1938-1958): Summer Knowledge (New Directions Publishing Corporation, 1967)
This entry was posted in Blog, Listening, Namedfropping, Poems, Quotations, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. Trackbacks are closed, but you can post a comment.


  1. Posted October 17, 2020 at 9:41 pm | Permalink

    Happy to get your stuff.
    Would never have heard of Delmore Schwartz


    • Posted October 18, 2020 at 7:46 pm | Permalink

      Thanks Helma. I’ve asked permission to read one of Atwood’s poems from Power Politics suitabe for these times.

  2. Prof. Annie Janowitz
    Posted August 25, 2022 at 10:22 am | Permalink

    When Schwartz writes, in The ballad of the Children of the Czar,
    A daylight moon hung up
    In the western sky, bald white……

    I remembered that I had read somewhere about Nicholas II having had a wall built in his children’s garden so that his children would learn astronomy. Do you know if that is the case? I am writing a book about Delmore Schwartz’s poetry, and wondered if that was the case. Do you know? Best wishes, Annie [email protected]

    • Posted September 21, 2022 at 8:54 pm | Permalink

      That’s fascinating, Professor Jannowitz. Unfortunately I don’t know but will keep my eyes open! (and repeat the story) Thanks!

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