Saturday, June 11, 2011

The Godfather King Soul Man

My younger daughter is about to finish third grade. Through the course of her brief academic career, I’ve become very familiar with acrostic poems. First-, second- and third-graders do a lot of them it seems.

In case you’ve forgotten (or – gasp! – didn’t know), an acrostic poem is one in which a designated letter in each line (usually the first letter), when read together in sequence vertically form a word or words. Typically, that means the acrostic poem, “Spring,” goes something like this:

Summer sun is yet to breach the horizon
Precipitation, the order of the day
Rainbows appear as the satisfying reward
I long for on these wet, windy, warming days
Nights begin to buzz, but can be quite damp and cold
Go on summer, seize the days, and take your hold!

OK, maybe a third-grader wouldn’t write that exactly, but I’m not going to wake mine up at this late hour just to get a more authentic example. You get the point.

Now we all know that boxing great Muhammad Ali was quite loquacious in his prime. In fact, his legacy maybe as far reaching in rap today as it is in the ring. The Champ fancied himself not only a fleet-footed, bantam-like basher with lightning quick fists, but also a taser-tongued talker – and, on certain occasions, something of a poet, too.

I recently came across this example of his early efforts (I believe it predates his later butterflies and bees work). The Godfather of Soul was a logical and worthy subject of inspiration to many back then and now (artistically at least) – even if “King James” did eventually devolve into a wild-haired, crack-addled, wife-abusing (yet still God-fearing!) convicted felon. So as evidenced below, like future generations, Ali's early poetical compositions employed the acrostic form:

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