30 May 2010

All that Tweets is not a Bird

The English Poet’s Club of Heaven was in crisis. It had become bloated and God wanted it downsized. God noted that earlier only the very select were admitted into its haloed precincts but now all and sundry were gaining admission. He charged St Peter to devise a manner to trim it down to size.
St Peter devised a simple method to keep the pretenders out. Now follow the story.
Scene I
(St Peter is chairing what appears to be a meeting of the English Poets’ Club. The who’s who of the English poetic world is present. Shakespeare, Frost, Bronte, Lazarus, Whitman, Tagore, Kipling, Milton and Silverstein)
St Peter: All of you tweet your best quote to the children of the world below. It has to be only one tweet, no more. The children of the temporal world have time for only one. If the children send up a smiling smiley, as reply, you are in else you are out. Remember, a tweet is no more than 140 characters. Beyond 140 characters, your quote will get truncated. I encourage you to speak out your quote here in this august but bloated gathering so that all would know what quote went down. I will call each of you in turn. As soon as you are done with your quote, our telecom expert, Guglielmo Marconi will send down your quote for evaluation and in a twinkling of the eye he will get the result as well. Marconi will then wave the appropriate smiley and by that we’ll know if the tweet was accepted or rejected. As the earthlings will say: Happy tweeting and best of luck! Let’s give the Bard of Avon the privilege to speak his quote first. William, please come up. This heaven is your stage.
William Shakespeare: Thank you, my Lord. Here is my quote:
Blow, blow, thou winter wind, Thou art not so unkind as man’s gratitude; Thy tooth is not so keen because thou art not seen although thy breath be rude.
Heigh-ho! sing heigh-ho! unto the green holly; Most friendship is feigning, most loving mere folly; Then heigh-ho! the holly! This life is most jolly.
St Peter: As per the rules, the words from blow to breath will only be tweeted. Rest will be lost in transmission. Clearly, William Shakespeare you don’t believe in your own dictum that brevity is the soul of wit. Marconi please wave your magic wand.
(Marconi waves the sad smiley)
Stunning as the result may seem, I am afraid, William, you are out. Looks like the truncated tweet did you in. But the show must go on. I now call upon Henry Wadsworth Longfellow to speak his tweet.
Henry: Since we are talking about souls, here is my quote from Psalm of Life:
Life is real! Life is earnest! And the grave is not its goal; "Dust thou art, to dust returnest,"
Was not spoken of the soul.
St Peter: Since you good souls from yesteryears have gathered here and have not self destructed, this seems to be a reasonable goal and quote. Marconi please do us the honours. Souls, I just can’t stand the suspense.
(Marconi waves the happy smiley).
St Peter: Thank God you are in Henry! Well done! I now call upon Emily Bronte to tweet away.
Emily: The buzzword here seems to be soul. But I will talk about heart, actually about taking heart. Be assured though that there is soul embedded in my original work. Anyone interested can hear about it offline. But here is my tweet:
And if I pray, the only prayer that moves my lips for me is–"Leave the heart that now I bear and give me liberty."
St Peter: Nice tweet lady. Will Marconi please tell us the result?
(Marconi waves the happy smiley).
St Peter: Looks like we have another winner. Congrats Emily. I now call upon Emma Lazarus to give us her quote.
Emma Lazarus: Taking the liberty cue from Emily, here is my quote on liberty, a quote that is engraved at bottom of the Statue of Liberty:
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free…Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"

St Peter: Excellent! That’s one quote you can’t hold a candle to, that torch of liberty flames so much! Wave your good wand, then Marconi.
(Marconi waves the happy smiley).
St Peter: Liberty still does seem to be very emotive down below. Good to know that you will be part of the Club Emma, and deservedly so. Can Walt Whitman please give us his tweet now!
Walt Whitman: Emma spoke about Tempest tossed, or those who were tossed around in the raging seas during their voyage to freedom. I will describe another fearful trip in a ship that weathered every rack. The Captain of that ship, Abraham Lincoln, must be here somewhere watching the live telecast of this tweeting event. But here is my tweet:
O Captain! my Captain! our fearful trip is done. The ship has weathered every rack, the prize we sought is won.
St Peter: Abraham, after he fell to the assassin’s bullets, is now the anchor of a sitcom ‘Liberty’ here in heaven. But I am digressing. Marconi, out with the verdict!
(Marconi waves the happy smiley).
St Peter: Phew! Marconi tells me that Walt made it by a whisker. But let me call one who took the road less travelled and that, it would appear made all the difference. Robert, Robert Frost, the stage is yours, Sir!
Robert Frost: Thank you for your kind words, St Peter. Will not talk about the road not taken, for as Garfield, the earthly cat, says, ‘it is easy to be brilliant in hindsight’. Walt spoke of a Captain who went to deep sleep after winning the prize. I will, on the other hand, tweet about things to be done, promises to be kept before deep sleep engulfs me. Here is my quote:
The woods are lovely, dark and deep
But I have promises to keep
And miles to go before I sleep
And miles to go before I sleep
St Peter: Marconi you have a few flags to wave before you sleep.
(Marconi waves the happy smiley).
St Peter: You kept your promise Robert. I congratulate you. I call upon John, John Milton to tweet away.
John Milton: When I was down there everything was dark for me; not the woods, or the farmhouse but everything. It is a condition which the earthlings call blindness. Is that why I wrote these lines:
what in me is dark illumine, what is low raise and support; That, to the height of this great argument, I may assert Eternal Providence, And justify the ways of God to men.
St Peter: But all that is past John; all is brilliant and radiant out here. God’s Grace is unceasing renewal source of energy. Marc, wave thy flag, will ye!
(Marconi waves the sad smiley).
St Peter: Ah! We have another casualty. You are out John. Perhaps you will regain entry when you quote from Paradise Regained. I now call upon Rabindranath Tagore, who had a prayer for his country. Robin, the stage is yours.
Tagore: From up here all boundaries appear blurred, all fences virtual. Therefore the tweet I send out, although, at the time of writing, was worded for my countrymen, is now for all of humanity.
Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high;….. Into that heaven of freedom, my Father, let my country awake.
St Peter: And if humanity sleeps beyond the waking hour, rest assured that God will nudge them awake. Marc can you please make the verdict public.
(Marconi waves the happy smiley).
St Peter: Well done Robin. You stay. Rudyard Kipling, if I could call you to tweet.
Kipling: You may indeed, St Peter. Between many an IF did I write this poem. And the most significant IF is my tweet today. So here goes:
If you can fill the unforgiving minute with sixty seconds' worth of distance run,Yours is the Earth and …you'll be a Man, my son!
St Peter: Marc, do this differently, will you? Do blow your whistle three times if Rudyard is in.
(Marconi blows his whistle three times.)
St Peter: Bravo Rudyard, Bravo! And now a soul who is a favourite with the children down below. Shel Silverstein let’s listen to your quote.
Shel SilverStein: Those good old days children played and coloured with chalk. Today they have their markers. But the markings are the same; arrowheads leading to their place of fun. So, here is my tweet:
There is a place where the sidewalk ends and before the street begins. And we’ll go where the chalk-white arrows go, for the children, they mark, and the children, they know the place where the sidewalk ends
St Peter: Thank you Shel and over to you Marc.
(Marconi rushes up to St Peter and says something into his ear. St Peter and Marconi go into a huddle. Finally, St Peter emerges from the huddle.)
St Peter: A very intriguing result, this last one. Although every word beyond mark got truncated and therefore got lost in transmission, Shel still gets the children’s vote. Marc tells me that each child has Shel’s poem on his or her desktop, so it does not matter if the tweet got truncated. Shel, my friend, you are in! Wave the smiley, Marc.
(Marconi waves the happy smiley).
Thank you gentle souls. We had some startling results today. The lesson we are taking with us today is that never rest on your laurels. But most of all, keep it short, keep it sweet.

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