We’re supposed to be writing a prose poem for Writing 201. After reading several examples, this is my first attempt; however, I don’t even know if I’m on the right track. Comments, suggestions, and helpful criticism are greatly appreciated!

Update: Having left my original post up for several hours, I received several positive reviews and no real suggestions other than to remove the fingers – from the piece, not from me. I’m not that bad . . . at least, I don’t think I am . . . but you’d tell me, right?

Anyway, I’m going to go ahead and remove the password protection and share this with the world. Or, at the very least, the forty or so people who regularly visit.


With cold fingers I hold onto my coffee, wordlessly hoping for another school closing. Nope. Pull on the hat, coat and gloves. Head out the door to see the car frozen over. No ice remover, no scraper, just the vents put on overload. Listen to How Stuff Works; I wonder how long it will take. Twenty-one minutes – at least the motor turned over! Drive on to work.

Warm(er) fingers turn the key in the lock; kids are already waiting like a flock of . . . sheep? geese? Oh great. The clocks are all off. Again. I really need more coffee – strike that – I need the whole pot. Okay, who forgot to throw out the grounds? Come on, people! I’m not the only one around here! How much longer? Ten minutes? I guess that’ll work.

The Ballad of Frederick Barbarossa

When I first heard I had to write a ballad, I thought What? I don’t know any ballads!

Then I stopped and thought for just a few minutes and realized that I love ballads:

Bohemian Rhapsody by Queen

American Pie by Don McLean

Homecoming by Green Day

Hallelujah by Rufus Wainwright

What’s Left of the Flag by Flogging Molly

 However, the very first ballad I ever learned was The Ballad of Magellan:

The older I get, the more I remember learning from cartoons. Anyway, I used the same general rhyme scheme / syllable count so you can sing my ballad to the same tune – just note that in some cases you’ll have to stretch the syllable out or condense it. In addition, my ballad is slightly longer that the Animaniacs’ song, so you’ll run out of music before you run out of words.

But enough of that: Less Talk, More Rock Ballading! (And if that’s not a word, it is now!)

        The Ballad of Frederick Barbarossa

Frederick Barbarossa
1. There once lived a man, 
 named Fred'rick Barbarossa:
  a Holy Roman Emperor
   named for his red beard. 
He was a weak king
 who wanted more power;
  He made a deal with the Pope
   which wasn't that weird. 

O what will you do,
 Fred'rick Barbarossa?
Your people don't like you,
 you're a figurehead.
O what will you do,
 Fredrick' Barbarossa?
Some might prefer you
 better off dead. 

2. He invaded the states
 of Italy & Sicily; 
  four times he attempted
   to strengthen his hand. 
He captured some relics, 
 made peace in the Rhineland, 
  and extended his power
   all over the land. 

O what are you doing, 
 Fred'rick Barbarossa?
Ignoring your people 
 is no way to help.
O what are you doing, 
 Fred'rick Barbarossa?
Try being a leader
 not focused on self.

3. He tried to unite
 the Germanic princes
  who held onto their power
   and great influence. 
So he went back to fighting
 the battles he could win - 
  I guess in some way
   it does make some sense.

Well at least you tried, 
 Fred'rick Barbarossa - 
  It isn't your fault 
   if the princes won't heel.
Oh wait! It is!
 Fred'rick Barbarossa,
  You're seen as a fool,
   tell me: how does it feel?

4. The Church then offered
 a chance a redemption:
  protect holy pilgrims
   and offer them aid.
He went off to war
 with two other kings named
  Richard and Louis 
   in the Third Crusade.

To war! To war!
 Fred'rick Barbarossa - 
  starting your journey
   towards Jerusalem.
Crusade! Crusade!
 Fred'rick Barbarossa - 
  soon you'll be fighting 
   the feared Saracen.

5. They came to a river - 
 they needed to cross it; 
  Barbarossa said
   "I think I'll cross over here."
He fell off his horse
 and into the river; 
  he sank to the bottom 
   in all of his gear.

Oh no! Oh no!
 Fred'rick Barbarossa, 
  did you forget 
   you could not be touched?
Oh no! Oh no!
 Fred'rick Barbarossa, 
  were you distracted
   by the prospect of lunch?

6. Now you might have thought
 "That's the end of Barbarossa!"
  Well, you would be right, 
   but there's more to my song. 
His men tried to preserve him
 in a barrel of vinegar, 
  continuing their journey
   they marched right along. 

What ho! What ho!
 Fred'rick Barbarossa, 
  Crusading on
   though your spirit is gone. 
This is really quite morbid,
 Fred'rick Barbarossa - 
  you're starting to stink
   in this hot summer sun.

7. His army deserted, 
 except for five thousand
  who continued to Acre
   with his son Frederick.
He was buried in Tyre, 
 Antioch, and Tarsus
  instead of Jerusalem
   as originally wished. 

You will live on,
 Fred'rick Barbarossa, 
  in stories and legends
   of your Christian ways. 
And although you were used
 by those dastardly Nazis,
  we'll remember you fondly
   until end of days.

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