Opinion | Favorite Songs and Prose, Reimagined

William Shakespeare Revisits His Sonnet 18

“Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?”
That likening hath never been less apt
Today, our summers kindle flood and flame,
To which humanity might not adapt
That summer I once dared to denigrate,
Compared to now, was such a pleasant place
I fear this torrid tempest won’t abate,
What spiteful irony I now must face!
I once lamented summer’s fleeting span;
In hindsight, there was much I hadst to learn
“Eternal summer,” ’tis a frying pan:
Without a change of course, the world will burn
My modest sonnet, fate hath cruelly read
Now, summer only warms my heart with dread.

Joel Watson
San Diego

The Gettysburg Regress

Four score months, almost seven years ago, our voters brought forth on this continent a new president, conceived in Queens, and dedicated to the proposition that “when you’re a star, they let you do it.”

Now we are engaged in a great culture war, testing whether that president, or any president so conceived and so dedicated, can elude censure. The internet is the great battlefield of that war, with some very fine people on both sides. We have come to dedicate a large portion of our field of attention to websites and apps as the final resting place for our opinions that they may live forever. It is not altogether fitting or proper that we should do this.

And, among the nonsense, we can no longer enjoy the love we make — in case we accidentally procreate — with abortion newly struck down. The brave women, living in dread, who struggle in fear, have old men to blame for it, and deserve nothing less than to have us now act.

The world must long note, and long remember, what he did on Jan. 6 after an election year. It is for us the voters, then, to be dedicated without fear to the unfinished but necessary work of eternal vigilance.

It is for us the voters to be dedicated to the great task remaining before us — that in spite of what we may have seen on Reddit, we take increased devotion to that cause of facts over emotion — that we hereby resolve that Gold Star families shall not have grieved in vain — that this nation, however odd, shall only give birth to freedom — and that, though we may not always get what we want from our leaders, we always get what we vote for.

Jason Luban
Ronda, Spain

Their Least Favorite Things
(to the tune of “My Favorite Things”)

Library shelves have begun to look lonely
Filled with the books deemed acceptable only
Gone are the classics we all read in school
Revising history’s the new golden rule

“Slaughterhouse-Five” and “The Sun Also Rises”
Wallflowers, Handmaids, and “Lord of the Flies”-es
Mockingbirds, Cuckoo’s Nests, Mice and Men too
Know Why the Caged Bird Sings? I do. Do you?

Facing history is no mystery, cruel truth often stings
So people remove the “uncomfortable” themes
And all their least favorite things

Parents irate, still their lists aren’t completed
“Gone With the Wind,” where the South was defeated
These books weren’t burned yet the flames have been fanned
Instead of fire, no, these books have been banned

Jay Gatsby’s gone and poor Anne Frank is hidden
Calls of the Wild are now strictly forbidden
Books of all stripes both the new and the old
Once warmed our hearts, now they’re out in the cold

Who’s deciding, what needs hiding, and what books are fine
If there is a ban that you want to enforce,
Please tell your own kids, not mine!

Mona Finston
New York

The Ballad of SCOTUS (or Thomas’s Promises)
(to the tune of “June Is Busting Out All Over”)

Cash is pouring in all over,
The court is a great big money tree!
Lots of billionaires pursue me
And the gifts they offer to me
Are expensive and extensive as can be!

Yachts to take me to Bermuda!
Planes to whisk me off to France!
Though it may appear unseemly,
I will rule for you supremely,
Every time I have the glimmer of a chance.

Because it’s June! June! June!
Rulings come in June! June! June!

Decades of progress will be smashed,
Once all your checks are duly cashed!

Money’s pouring in all over!
Stare decisis is kaput.
With the help of Sam Alito
Roe v. Wade is now finito —
And I’ll soon be crushing Griswold underfoot!

Money’s pouring in all over!
I’ll be at your beck and call!
Ev’ry fabulous vacation
Makes me lower your taxation
To the point at which it won’t exist at all!

Because it’s June! June! June!
Rulings come in June! June! June!

Tossing aside with bad intent
Every last shred of precedent.

Perks are pouring in all over!
Travel’s more splendid than before.
With your money in my pocket
I’ll devote my shadow docket
To the N.R.A., Big Pharma and much more!

Cash is pouring in all over!
Ev’ry decision can be bent:
Though my rulings may be lawless,
Still my reasoning will be flawless
When I tell them what our founders really meant!

Because it’s June! June! June!
Rulings come in June! June! June! …
They’ll be coming Soon! Soon! Soon!!!

Nancy Stark
New York

The Aspirational Dream
(to the tune of “The Impossible Dream”)

To dream aspirational dreams
To fight those who said that I lost
To tear into all who contest me
To win irregardless of cost

To grab everything that I want
To fire everyone I’ve employed
To lie when the truth is for losers
To feed my insatiable void

This is my quest
I’m winner takes all
No matter how stupid, or who has to fall
And though I berate those who counter my will
If they’d done what I told them to do I’d be president still

And I know if my lawyers can sell this new lie overreach
That I might not get tossed into jail
’Cause it’s freedom of speech

And my world will be better for this
When my foes lay prostrate at my feet
Ashamed that they failed to subdue me

The leech, the unteachable, unimpeachable, the unreachable star!

And I’ll always dream aspirational dreams
Donate to me! The unleashable czar!

Melanie Bacon
Langley, Wash.

2023 Gifts for The 12 Days of Christmas

On the twelfth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me:
Twelve NFTs
Eleven forests burning
Ten migrants trudging
Nine bots a-tweeting
Eight cows a-belching
Seven drones a-spying
Six trolls a-doxxing
Five plastic sporks!
Four Covid tests
Three face masks
Two climate skeptics
and a cartridge for an AR-15.

David Wineberg
Milford, Pa.


I’m living in a land that’s called Denial.
You’re welcome to come visit for a while.
The locals speak with eloquence and reason.
The climate is delightful every season.
The air is fresh and clean; the rain is mild.
The waterways are clear and undefiled.
The Lexapro is plentiful and free,
But no one needs it here, not even me.
And people from all backgrounds get along.
The schools are good; the infrastructure’s strong.
Elections feature meaningful debate,
With neither side inflaming fear and hate,
And no one says they’ve won when they have lost
And tries to get a valid outcome tossed.
Deceptive news is never on the air,
And commenters online are kind and fair.
This paradise is very hard to find …
I wish it were a place outside my mind.

Erika S. Fine
Brookline, Mass.

Political Campaign Ballad
(to the tune of “Both Sides Now”)

I show up at each county fair
Tell everyone how much I care
Make promises of just hot air
I’ve talked to crowds that way

But now sometimes I can’t get through
I start to talk, they start to boo
So many things I planned to do
But crowds got in my way

I’ve looked at crowds from both sides now
From good and bad and still somehow
It’s crowd’s illusions I recall
I really don’t know crowds at all

I tell them I love everyone
I want to be their favorite son
Vote for me, I’ll get things done
I’ve looked at gov. that way

But now the polls say I’m behind
My gov. campaign starts to unwind
I did it all, but now I find
I gave myself away

I’ve looked at gov. from both sides now
From high and low and still somehow
It’s gov.’s illusions I recall
I really don’t know gov. at all

I traveled to most every place
And kissed the babies on their face
And sold my soul to win the race
I’ve looked at strife that way

But now it’s just another show
I give my spiel, and they all know
My campaign has nowhere to go
And strife now rules the day

I’ve looked at strife from both sides now
From win and lose and still somehow
It’s strife’s illusions I recall
I really don’t know strife at all

Bill Archibald
Arlington, Va.

The first round of variations can be found here:www.nytimes.com/2023/08/26/opinion/letters/revised-songs-and-poems.html

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