Ode to the Smack Down Chocolate Orange – with apologies to the poet John Keats

John Keats’ poem Ode on a Grecian Urn was a flop when it was first published in 1819, largely because of the last two lines:  Beauty is truth, truth beauty, that is all ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.

English: John Keats by Joseph Severn 1819. Oil...

John Keats by Joseph Severn 1819. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The criticism was virulent.  Josiah Conder said:  “That is all that Mr Keats knows or cares to know.  But till he knows much more than this, he will never write verses fit to live.”*  Poor Mr Conder, his lack of prescience is immortalized in Wikipedia forever.

I hadn’t given much thought to Keats or to the Ode for that matter–other than to wonder why it was an ode on an urn and not to an urn–until today.

You’ll recall that in my Christmas blog I complained about Calgary’s lack of chocolate oranges (the kind you smack down on a countertop with a satisfying thwack!) and resigned myself to ordinary chocolates and marzipan pigs.

Well guess what.  Today a heavily-padded, bubble-wrap envelope landed on my doorstep—an express post from my dear friend Liane.  Liane and I met in Toronto when we were in our twenties.  We immediately became fast friends and kept in touch notwithstanding the Soapbox family’s moves all over western Canada and the eastern US.  A steady stream of letters, cards and emails topped off with an occasional visit here and there kept us current on all the major events in each other’s lives.

We shared the joy of children growing up and the heartache of parents growing frail.  We celebrated birthdays—Liane is a year and 2 months older than me, but hey, who’s counting—and supported each other through life’s difficult moments.  Our friendship continues to endure.

And now I know why…it’s the smack down chocolate orange and all it symbolizes.  Just as Keats’ Grecian Urn is a symbol for poetry, Liane’s chocolate orange is a symbol for what it takes to keep a friendship alive.  It takes time to find a chocolate orange, wrap it in red tissue paper, stuff it and a delightful card into a bubble-wrap envelope and send it by express post to a friend two time zones away.  And it takes a puckish sense of humour to consider doing it in the first place.

So before I go into the kitchen and smack down the chocolate orange–dark chocolate, not milk, because Liane knows that I think milk chocolate is insipid–I’ll leave you with this thought (I’m sure Keats won’t mind me taking liberties with the Ode and no one cares what the critic Conder thinks, he missed the biggest literary event of the 18th century) :

Friendship is truth, truth is friendship.  And that is all any of us on earth need to know.

Liane, Howell, Simon and Nora;  the Soapbox family thanks you!

*Wikipedia, Eclectic Review, Sept 1820

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18 Responses to Ode to the Smack Down Chocolate Orange – with apologies to the poet John Keats

  1. Rose Marie MacKenzie-Kirkwood says:

    Since Facebook emerged and people started professing to have hundreds of friends I began to wonder, “Maybe I just don’t go out enough? or maybe I am just too guarded? or maybe I am just not that social?” The answer is the question, “Do people actually have a 100 friends?” and the answer is, of course not. So why do they call them “friends”?

    I walk around my thoughts asking and answering questions all the time but your blog pointed out that a friend is someone who already knows who and what you are, they don’t need to see your life displayed in front of them. They may not have seen your latest holiday photos but they know you. You are right, friendship is truth, truth is friendship, all the rest are just fluff.

    So, smack that orange and know what it means; come what may Liane is a friend, milk chocolate is insipid and that is truth.

    • “So, smack that orange and know what it means; come what may Liane is a friend, milk chocolate is insipid and that is truth”–A perfect ending to the Ode to the Smack Down Chocolate Orange! Absolutely perfect! In addition to dear friends, I’m blessed with dear sisters, thank you for being there Rose Marie.

  2. Liane Sharkey says:

    I’m honoured to be in your blog, Susan — our friendship spans decades and I agree with your contention that the work we’ve both put into it has kept love, humour and connection going happily along all that time. Each of those chocolate sections represents another event or emotion along the timeline…….so eat up and enjoy the delicious sweetness as you bring in 2013 — a good new year to the whole Soapbox family and all your readers!

    • The honour is all mine, dear friend. I just thwacked that chocolate orange, the segments separated in a most satisfactory manner. I’ve already eaten four segments–180 calories, but who’s counting, they’re worth it in every sense of the word! What a delightful way to come into 2013. All the very best to you and your lovely family Liane.

  3. Susan, this should be a TV commercial. Your friend Liane is a very special person. That must have been such a great surprise to open up your package and find a chocolate orange. Enjoy your chocolate orange, and have a Happy and successful 2013!

    • You’re right Joanna, Liane is a very special friend. I phoned her right after I posted the blog. She answered the phone with: “I didn’t need to check the phone number, I knew it was you”. The beautiful thing about a long lasting friendship is that you develop “memes” that echo through the years. She kidded me about telling the ENTIRE WORLD that she was a year and two months older than me; and while she’ll concede that one, she’ll never agree that I’m a whole inch taller (Roy says we’re the same height so I may have to give on that one).
      Here’s wishing you, your family and your CHAMPS friends all the best for 2013!

  4. Ahem. It has come to the attention of the Society for the Protection and Promotion of Milk Chocolate that this site has recently engaged in unwarranted and scurrilous attacks on the referenced comestible. Milk has an important role in our language/culture (e.g. the milk of human kindness, milk of magnesia) and we hereby serve notice that we expect it to be appropriately honoured in subsequent postings. *That* may be all you need to know.

    • Psst…Liane, it’s the Chocolate Police, let me handle this one. (*Cough*) On behalf of my dear friend Liane (and my sister Rose Marie) I’d like to say that we’re not against all milk chocolate per se. In fact, being chocoholics we’ll scarf it down in a nanosecond if there’s a dark chocolate shortage (beggars can’t be choosers). However, in a smack down between a luscious dark chocolate orange or an insipid milk chocolate one, a DARK chocolate orange wins every time!!!
      Hmmm…I don’t think that came out quite as conciliatory as I’d hoped. 🙂

  5. and of we go into the depths of 2013, blessings to all.

  6. Carlos Beca says:

    Susan I have a feeling that soon will see

    PCs are truth and truth is the PCs


  7. Very witty Carlos. 🙂 Thanks and here’s hoping 2013 is full of wonderful new developments for all of us!

  8. Julie Ali says:

    Because of your Christmas post about the smack down orange I had to go to London Drugs (ostensibly to fill a prescription for spot eradication for younger boy who has turned 13 years old and so there are consequences due to adolescent hormonal changes — that require medication) and what did I find there but multitudes of chocolate oranges on the Xmas shelves (not 50% off unfortunately or I would have bought the lot) but certainly a slightly lower price than their extravagant original price.

    And remembering your salivating discourse on the wonders of this gem I bought two of them. Older boy was waiting in the van when I came back with his gift. He ate that chocolate in ten seconds flat (well maybe it took him a bit longer than that as we had problems abusing the chocolate treat).

    Younger boy ate his slowly and regretfully he did not finish it. He gave it to me. I ate a few segments in a tortuously slow way (I had overdosed on desserts in Quebec and was trying to be frugal about calories). Luckily, older boy spied the remnants of younger boy’s treat on my writing desk and disposed of the temptation before I could.

    Yes, that chocolate orange was super.
    Yes, this post is tender.
    I wish I had a long term friend like you have but I tend to piss them all off and really I can only keep the friend I am married to (he says he has no choice about the matter).

    I loved this post.
    You have a honey of a pal.
    But certainly she should not exacerbate your chocolate addiction with further doses of the drug that you are hooked on.

    P.S. There is no dearth of chocolate oranges in Edmonton.
    P.S.S. we had a hard time smacking down the orange on the van dashboard. Finally older boy had to use brute force and bang on it rather than smacking it delicately on the hard surface. Maybe the chocolate oranges in Edmonton are last year’s batch but certainly abuse of the treat is necessary and no chocolate police should be involved.

  9. Julie:
    What a delightful comment! I could picture the older boy “abusing” the chocolate orange and then devouring it, the younger boy eating it more slowly (isn’t it interesting how two children can be so different) and you trying not to eat it at all because you’d overdosed on Christmas chocolate at the in-laws. I think your husband is very lucky to have a special friend like you. You and I can continue on our path to become blogging friends, I’m sure we’ve got a few decades of writing still left in us!

    PS I’m really glad you clarified for the chocolate police (ahem) that no chocolates were unnecessarily injured prior to consumption.

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