Friday, April 26, 2013

You're the top - A Tony Hoagland poem about loving family

This is a beautiful poem about understanding each other.  In this case poet Tony Hoagland understands his grandmother much better as he grows up and gets to know where she came from.  The poem really says it all:

Poem: "You're the Top," by Tony Hoagland

You're the Top

Of all the people that I've ever known
I think my grandmother Bernice
would be best qualified to be beside me now
driving north of Boston in a rented car
while Cole Porter warbles on the radio;
Only she would be trivial and un-
politically correct enough to totally enjoy
the rhyming of Mahatma Ghandi
with Napoleon brandy;
and she would understand, from 1948,
the miracle that once was cellophane,
which Porter rhymes with night in Spain.
She loved that image of the high gay life
where people dressed by servants
turned every night into the Ritz:
dancing through a shower of just
uncorked champagne
into the shelter of a dry martini.
When she was 70 and I was young
I hated how a life of privilege
had kept her ignorance intact
about the world beneath her pretty feet,
how she believed that people with good manners
naturally had yachts, knew how to waltz
and dribbled French into their sentences
like salad dressing. My liberal adolescent rage
was like a righteous fist back then
that wouldn't let me rest,
but I've come far enough from who I was
to see her as she saw herself:
a tipsy debutante in 1938,
kicking off a party with her shoes;
launching the lipstick-red high heel
from her elegant big toe
into the orbit of a chandelier
suspended in a lyric by Cole Porter,
bright and beautiful and useless.

Other notes:

"You're The Top" is a Cole Porter song from the 1934 musical Anything Goes. It is about a man and a woman who take turns complimenting each other. The best selling version was Paul Whiteman's Victor single, which made the top five.

It was the most popular song from Anything Goes at the start with hundreds of parodies.[1][2]

The lyrics are particularly significant because they offer a snapshot as to what was highly prized in the mid-1930s, and demonstrate Porter's rhyming ability.

Some of the lyrics were re-written by P. G. Wodehouse for the British version of Anything Goes.

Lyrics of the song "You're the top":

You're The Top Lyrics
by Cole Porter. From De-Lovely

At words poetic, I'm so pathetic
That I always have found it best,
Instead of getting 'em off my chest,
To let 'em rest unexpressed,
I hate parading my serenading
As I'll probably miss a bar,
But if this ditty is not so pretty
At least it'll tell you
How great you are.

You're the top!
You're the Coliseum.
You're the top!
You're the Louver Museum.
You're a melody from a symphony by Strauss
You're a Bendel bonnet,
A Shakespeare's sonnet,
You're Mickey Mouse.
You're the Nile,
You're the Tower of Pisa,
You're the smile on the Mona Lisa
I'm a worthless check, a total wreck, a flop,
But if, baby, I'm the bottom you're the top!

Your words poetic are not pathetic.
On the other hand, babe, you shine,
And I can feel after every line
A thrill divine
Down my spine.
Now gifted humans like Vincent Youmans
Might think that your song is bad,
But I got a notion
I'll second the motion
And this is what I'm going to add;

You're the top!
You're Mahatma Gandhi.
You're the top!
You're Napoleon Brandy.
You're the purple light
Of a summer night in Spain,
You're the National Gallery
You're Garbo's salary,
You're cellophane.
You're sublime,
You're turkey dinner,
You're the time, the time of a Derby winner
I'm a toy balloon that’s fated soon to pop
But if, baby, I'm the bottom,
You're the top!

You're the top!
You're an arrow collar
You're the top!
You're a Coolidge dollar,
You're the nimble tread
Of the feet of Fred Astaire,
You're an O'Neill drama,

You're Whistler's mama!

You're camembert.

You're a rose,
You're Inferno's Dante,

You're the nose
On the great Durante.
I'm just in a way,
As the French would say, "de trop".
But if, baby, I'm the bottom,
You're the top!

You're the top!
You're a dance in Bali.
You're the top!
You're a hot tamale.
You're an angel, you,
Simply too, too, too diveen,
You're a Boticcelli,
You're Keats,
You're Shelly!

You're Ovaltine!
You're a boom,
You're the dam at Boulder,
You're the moon,
Over Mae West's shoulder,
I'm the nominee of the G.O.P.

Or GOP!

But if, baby, I'm the bottom,
You're the top!

You're the top!
You're a Waldorf salad.
You're the top!
You're a Berlin ballad.
You're the boats that glide
On the sleepy Zuider Zee,
You're an old Dutch master,

You're Lady Astor,
You're broccoli!
You're romance,
You're the steppes of Russia,
You're the pants, on a Roxy usher,
I'm a broken doll, a fol-de-rol, a blop,

But if, baby, I'm the bottom,
You're the top!