Back in the days when it was hip to be a hippie, my wife and I were “semi-hippies.” Our hair was long, and we dressed weird, but we never smoked pot or slept with anybody else besides each other. We were so square the other hippies looked askance on us.

Also, we went to hootenannies and listened to folk music at the folk music night clubs in Los Angeles such as the Ash Grove and Troubadour. My wife loved The New Lost City Ramblers (headed by Pete Seeger’s non-leftist nut case brother Mike Seeger), Canadian folk-rock husband and wife duo Ian and Sylvia (now divorced), and a pair of singers who performed as Kathy and Carol.

My wife especially loved Kathy and Carol’s song “Gold Watch and Chain.” In those days we didn’t have much money, so when we attended one of their concerts at a folk festival, and they were selling the album out of their car, we didn’t buy it. By the time I realized my wife really wanted that album, it was out of print.

It’s an old Carter Family song, but my wife didn’t want one of their albums. Emmylou Harris has recorded it, but she didn’t want that version either.

I searched for it at used records stores and at services that searched for old records, contacted the record company that had issued it, wrote to the singers, and once the Internet got going, searched on eBay. eBay has lots of gold watches with or without chains, but my wife is not that much of a jewelry person. As I mentioned once, I don’t wear rings (wedding or otherwise), and my wife stopped wearing a wedding ring years ago.

Occasionally I would hear my wife sadly singing a verse or two, and I would feel quite bad about her not having that album.

Last week, I was searching for something else on the Internet and noticed an advertisement on Amazon for a re-release of a Kathy and Carol album. Although I usually avoid clicking on web ads, I clicked eagerly on this and looked at the list of songs. Even though they had a typo in the song listing in the advertisement, I could tell it was “Gold Watch and Chain.” I yelled, “Yippee!” (providing further proof to my co-workers that their fellow employee is quite mad) and started hauling out my credit card as fast as my fingers could fumble.

When I got home from work late Wednesday night, I found a package from Amazon propped next to the mail box. The next morning, as my wife was getting up, the CD suddenly started playing “Gold Watch and Chain.” My wife came out of the bedroom and hugged me with cries of surprise and delight.

It took about 35 years to get around to this romantic gift, but some surprises just need a little time to get ripe.

I had finally redeemed the gold watch and chain from the pawn shop. This pawn shop is hard to find. I think it says, “Foul Rag and Bone Shop of the Heart” on the tiny sign, but it’s hard to find. It’s on a back street on an island somewhere.

Oh I’ll pawn you my gold watch and chain, love
And I’ll pawn you my gold wedding ring
I will pawn you this heart in my bosom
Only say that you’ll love me again

Darling, how could I stay here without you
I have nothing to ease my poor heart
This old world would seem sad, love, without you
Tell me now that we never will part

Oh I’ll pawn you my gold watch and chain, love
And I’ll pawn you my gold wedding ring
I will pawn you this heart in my bosom
Only say that you’ll love me again

Take back all the gifts you have given
A diamond ring and a lock of your hair
And a card with your picture upon it
It’s a face that is false but is fair

Oh I’ll pawn you my gold watch and chain, love
And I’ll pawn you my gold wedding ring
I will pawn you this heart in my bosom
Only say that you’ll love me again

Oh, the white rose that blooms in the garden
It grows with the love of my heart
It broke through on the day that I met you
It will die on the day that we part

Oh I’ll pawn you my gold watch and chain, love
And I’ll pawn you my gold wedding ring
I will pawn you this heart in my bosom
Only say that you’ll love me again

=*=*=*=*=*=*=*=*=*=*=*=*=*=*=*=*=*=*=*=*=*=*=*=*=*=*=*=*

William Butler Yeats

The Circus Animals’ Desertion

I

I sought a theme and sought for it in vain,
I sought it daily for six weeks or so.
Maybe at last, being but a broken man,
I must be satisfied with my heart, although
Winter and summer till old age began
My circus animals were all on show,
Those stilted boys, that burnished chariot,
Lion and woman and the Lord knows what.

II

What can I but enumerate old themes,
First that sea-rider Oisin led by the nose
Through three enchanted islands, allegorical dreams,
Vain gaiety, vain battle, vain repose,
Themes of the embittered heart, or so it seems,
That might adorn old songs or courtly shows;
But what cared I that set him on to ride,
I, starved for the bosom of his faery bride.

And then a counter-truth filled out its play,
‘The Countess Cathleen’ was the name I gave it;
She, pity-crazed, had given her soul away,
But masterful Heaven had intervened to save it.
I thought my dear must her own soul destroy
So did fanaticism and hate enslave it,
And this brought forth a dream and soon enough
This dream itself had all my thought and love.

And when the Fool and Blind Man stole the bread
Cuchulain fought the ungovernable sea;
Heart-mysteries there, and yet when all is said
It was the dream itself enchanted me:
Character isolated by a deed
To engross the present and dominate memory.
Players and painted stage took all my love,
And not those things that they were emblems of.

III

Those masterful images because complete
Grew in pure mind, but out of what began?
A mound of refuse or the sweepings of a street,
Old kettles, old bottles, and a broken can,
Old iron, old bones, old rags, that raving slut
Who keeps the till. Now that my ladder’s gone,
I must lie down where all the ladders start
In the foul rag and bone shop of the heart.

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By the same token, the world is running out of rhymes. Desperate poets scrabbling under the bed have retrieved near rhymes, half-rhymes, imperfect rhymes, pararhymes, and slant rhymes. Like a child licking the bowl for one more bit of frosting, they have tried assonance and consonance.

Trying to subsist on a diet of modern poetry, whether high literature or mooney jooney popular jingles or bapping rapping hip hop is a likely road to starvation.