Monday, December 18, 2017


This cute kid is all grown up now. He is Branch Tanner Archer, IV, and my middle grandson. To show my love and pride in him, I am dedicating this blog post to a recent paper he presented as an English assignment in his Freshman year at UT. I am pleased to report that he made an A on this. Of course, I told him I knew he would.

He explained to me that the assignment was "to write a 30 stanza poem about being a college freshman in terza rima, the rhyme scheme Dante used. It’s in iambic pentameter, 10 syllables per line, and an ABA - BCB - CDC rhyme scheme."


Yes, I, just hatched, had seen it all before,
Not once, but twice a sister left our nest.
“Be safe! Have fun! And call me I implore!”

Well time had passed with haste despite protest,
And I myself now faced the greatest flight.
Set back by hubris, I began my quest.

In hopes that you will learn from me I write.
Now midway through the journey of my year,
I find myself quite lost, not erudite,

And I have much to learn, and that is clear;
Yet turn your favored ear my dearest friend,
For you and I differ by just a year.

Just how I got there I can’t comprehend
The passing years so speedy and obscure
Without a guide, myself I had to fend

At last my first challenge I must endure:
I sat at lunch and looked around the room,
So many faces that I felt unsure.

“I can do this!” conceited, I assumed.
I took my plate and found a cordial face,
A small, humble friendship I hoped could bloom.

A second passed and then I knew my place.
Where I once hoped just for a kindly smile
A sickened face he made I can’t efface

Within my head and heart. This sting and trial
Was one that grew more challenging by day.
With this great fear I had to reconcile.

No volleyball had I, no cast away.
It was not range nor space that brought this Brute.
“To feel alone among a mass, to say,

can sting much worse, your happiness transmute.”
Who’s this, you say? A friendly bird I told
You of, the first to fly, one quite astute.

The Virgil to my Dante, I behold.
And what that bird gave me I can’t reflect,
Naïve in poetry. My strength threefold,

Empowered by friendship, I now connect
My fist to Loneliness, its wretched face.
With time I grew, with her I resurrect,

The happiness and grit I now embrace.
Short time had passed till I had fought again,
The second college struggle I would face.

A fight that is predictable, the stain
It leaves, a scholar’s pain. I had to make
A bitter choice. I weighed the scales for gain
Or loss in Chemistry, a test, a Snake.
The choice betwixt a concert of that band
I praise, or study and avoid the ache

and venom of that Snake, his poison gland.
As much as I would like to lie, you may
Have guessed I chose unwise. The day at hand

I dueled that snake, I lacked my tools. Now prey
Had I become, for sleep and time with books,
Vitalities I had forgone. To say

The least his bite had stung. The Snake unhooks
His fangs, and what remains, my shriveled pride,
For I mistook the Snake and judged by looks.

Once more I faced the hardened Snake and tried
To use my tools of sleep and books. Thank God!!
I fell the snake, but be aware and bide

By my advice. He waits for you, façade
Of death, to drop your tools and choose unwise.
The second challenge now complete, with laud

And glory I proceed. Now time that flies
Carries a better man to stronger foes.
Not long ago did these events grace eyes

Of mine. It was on break, the story goes,
When I had faced that third and final match.
A demon of the heart and home arose.

“On Thanksgiving his heart I shall dispatch!”
I disembark my plane; at home is where
He grows. A mother’s hug, a tighter latch
He has on those who weep. For every care
He makes you pay. For every friend, he slaps
Your face. “I miss my dogs, my room, this chair!”

Nostalgia floods your heart, now laced with traps,
Of memories now old and dear. Too soon
You shall be ripped away, a hell relapse.

In just a second I was back, the moon
Now held my gaze. How strange it is that I
Look on the same white face at home. “Attune

Yourself to suffering, but do not cry.”
My bird was back, my faithful guide. “This foe
Will fall when you have recognized goodbye.

This pain results from things once good, I know.
Appreciate those memories, let’s not
Forget. Now lift your head and have a go

At making more, you won’t regret.” I wrought
Myself as best I can. My tale ends here.
Good luck when you encounter those I fought.
...Branch Archer

He plays the cello and tennis as well.
This grandmother's heart swells at the thought of what he will accomplish in his life.

Peace and love.. and may all of your "demons" vanish this Christmas season.



  1. Your grandson is a brilliant young man. I’m sure you are very proud of his accomplishments.


    1. I guess it's pretty obvious that I am! Thanks for your praise.

  2. What a poem! Good job young one!

  3. Marilyn, did one of your ancestors experience a laboratory experiment that altered their DNA resulting in an hereditary talent for excellent writing? Talk about an embarrassment of riches! Great work, Branch!
    Thanks for sharing and Happy Holidays, Marilyn!