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Exercise in Song War and Peace

Show me Napoleon’s war
As seen by the Muscovite elite.
As Bezukhov’s good luck turns sour, Bolkonsky flees
Austerlitz and grim defeat.

Through marriage, death and birth,
Trudging over frozen earth,
These aristocrats will come to enquire:
What was this bloody war worth?

Exercise in Song On the Road

“Show me to write, man!” said Dean,
But: “let’s see America!” he meant.
We drove as far as San Francisco; Dean cleared out
Leaving us without a cent.

Camille and Marylou,
And Inez he married, too.
Though we’ll never ride together again,
Dean, I still think about you.

Exercise in Song Heart of Darkness

Take me upriver, to Kurtz:
I’ll find him, and help him, without fail.
We make our way past severed heads; then, look: it’s him!
On a stretcher, deathly pale.

I can’t leave him behind:
Though he’s found, he’s lost his mind;
If you stray beyond the ambit of sense,
Horror! is all you will find.

Exercise in Song Lord of the Rings

Show me the way to Mordor!
I’m tired as I’m carrying the ring.
I left the Fellowship with Sam a while ago,
And now Gollum’s following.

Meanwhile, there’s bloody war
In Helm’s Deep and Pelennor.
When the ship arrives for us, then I’ll know:
I’ll see the Shire nevermore.

Exercise in Song Ulysses

Stephen and Leopold wake,
Then set off round Dublin, both on foot.
All day they wander, meet, then wander off again,
Till the young man gets half-cut.

In Nighttown, in distress,
Stephen’s helped by Bloom, no less;
Still, they’re home in time for Molly to dream:
“yes I said yes I will Yes.”

Exercise in Song Moby Dick

Call him Ishmael; and set out
A-whaling on board the old Pequod
Till Ahab’s dark obsession takes over the crew
And they’re all cursed too, by God.

Though weaker hearts might quail,
Starbuck, Queequeg and Ishmael
Are bewitched by Ahab’s constant refrain:
“Catch me that monstrous white whale!”

Exercise in Song Odyssey

Set sail for Ithaca’s shores,
And leave burning Ilium behind.
Resist the songs of sirens and the lotus flowers,
And then strike the Cyclops blind.

Though Scylla and Circe
Try to seize, enchant or slay,
By Minerva’s grace shall Ulysses reach
Home, son and Penelope!

Exercise in Song A Christmas Carol

Bah! Humbug! What do I care
About those in need, or just poor?
I make my way back home, but then I see with fear:
Jacob’s head upon my door!

The ghosts of yuletides gone,
Of today’s, and those to come
Then unfreeze my wicked, miserly heart:
God bless us, every one!

Exercise in Song Ancient Mariner

I cannot find my way home,
Nor shall my meanderings abate,
And water, water everywhere—nor any drink!—
Is my own benighted fate.

I stoppeth one of three
And relate tales of the sea;
O, by my grey beard and glittering eye,
Guest at the wedding: hear me!

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