The archetypal Jack is mischievous. He is the joker, the wild card, the surprise, the one with the spark. He starts things, but seldom finishes them. He is restless, fidgety, edgy, but not anxious. He’s not worried about anything, he just wants things to move along.
He is known by many incarnations: Jack O’Lantern, Jack the Pumpkin King, Jack Skellington, Jack Black, Jack Springheels, Jack and the Beanstalk, nimble, jumping over candles Jacks, Jack Sparrow, Jack Frost, Jack of Hearts, Diamonds, Clubs, and Spades; he’s Jumpin’ Jack Flash, Jack Sprat, Jack of “Jack and Jill,” and the house the Jack built, the man Jack,not to mention Little Jack Horner who sat in a corner…
Jack jumps. Jack jostles. Jack juxtoposes and jiggles.
It is uncharacteristic of him to be reflective, or remorseful, as one of my favorite Jacks, Jack Skellington of Nightmare Before Christmas fame:
There are few who deny,
At what I do I am the best,
For my talents are renowned far and wide
When it comes to surprises
In the moonlit night
I excel without ever even trying
With the slightest little effort
Of my ghost-like charms,
I have seen grown men give out a shriek
With a wave of my hand
And a well-placed moan,
I have swept the very bravest off their feet!
Yet year after year,
It’s the same routine
And I grow so weary
Of the sound of screams
And I Jack, the pumpkin king,
Have grown so tired of the same old thing…
We have all know a “Jack” at one time or another. He is seldom the muscle, but the brains; quick-witted and high-spirited, Jack is, and will always be, the friend we need to help us bend the rules.
If you want to read about the history of Jack O’Lanterns from Irish history/folklore, click on this link.
Yes. I know it’s January. And don’t smash pumpkins. I take it personally.
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