FanPost

Notre Dame’s Fall to Michigan, 2011: In Memoriam

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It was a dark, dark night in Ann Arbor. Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images.

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In the long history of human conflict, of teams of men joining to challenge each other in the field of battle and competition, even if only in sport, poetry has served to both celebrate the most glorious of victories and to commemorate the most brutal, soul-crushing defeats.

Untold months ago (well, twelve months ago), in an age of hope newly threatened by self-destructive errors, by back-breaking miscalculations and jaw-dropping, anguish-inducing turns of fortune, the Fighting Irish took the field against the Michigan Wolverines - against that same team they boldly face just days from now.

No one game in recent memory has turned our hearts and minds so swiftly and so violently from the elation of imminent victory to the despair of sudden and senseless defeat. Since that game, that night, undoubtedly weighs on the minds of Irish fans this week, and since speaking of it, thinking of it, is not unlike smashing four fingers in a heavy door, then stubbing all of your toes when kicking that door in rage, I thought that a commemoration of that defeat - in verse - might be a better course for remembering it.

In the off-season, I was happily challenged by Irishane to adapt Alfred Lord Tennyson's great 1854 elegy "The Charge of the Light Brigade" to, of all things, speak of Notre Dame football. What follows is that adaptation - a sort of mock-elegy - and it tells the story of that dark, inauspicious night in Ann Arbor, when the Fighting Irish fell suddenly to the Wolverines, 35 to 31.

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Our strong safety kept us neither strong nor safe in that defeat. Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images.

THE CHARGE OF THE IRISH BRAVE

An adaptation of Alfred Lord Tennyson's "The Charge of the Light Brigade"

Fifty leagues, fifty leagues,

Fifty leagues onward,

All towards the Big House of Death

Rode the Fighting Irish.

'Forward, the Irish brave!

Charge for Big Blue!' he said:

Into the Big House of Death

Rode the Fighting Irish.

______

‘Forward, the Irish brave!'

Was there a man dismay'd?

Not tho' the tight end knew

That Rees had blunder'd:

Theirs not to make reply,

Theirs not to reason why,

Theirs but to do and die:

Into the Big House of Death

Rode the Fighting Irish.

______

Denard to right of them,

Denard to left of them,

Denard in front of them

Volley'd and thunder'd;

Storm'd at with LB and DE,

Boldly they rushed and quickly,

Into the jaws of Hoke,

Into the mouths of Wolverines

Rushed the Fighting Irish.

______

Flash'd all their passes fair,

Flash'd as they turn'd in air

Shaking the corners there,

Charging a rival, while

All the world wonder'd:

Plunged in the maize-and-blue smoke

Right thro' the line they broke;

Kovacs and Gordon

Reel'd from the Floyd-Wood-stroke

Shatter'd and sunder'd.

Then they pulled back, but not

Not the Fighting Irish.

______

Denard to right of them,

Denard to left of them,

Denard behind them

Volley'd and thunder'd;

Storm'd at with LB and DE,

While Ragone and Rees fell,

They that had fought so well

Came thro' the jaws of Hoke,

Back from the mouths of Wolverines,

All that was left of them,

Left of the Irish.

______

When can their glory fade?

O the wild charge they made!

All the world wonder'd.

Honour the charge they made!

Honour the Irish brave,

Noble Fighting Irish!

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