It’s a day early, but it summer means it’s time for me to re-enter the Poetry Friday fray. The only problem is that on the eve of moving across town I’ve already packed the poetry books!
In unloading the shelves I finally located a poetry collection I’d been looking for since last summer. It’s the collected high school writings of a noted 20th century American writer, and what I love about it is that it gives any aspiring writer hope. I wrote my share of crap in high school, and it was a revelation to see this particular individual’s youthful literary indulgences.
Now the big fun: guess the author. All I will say is that the poem was written when the author was a senior in 1916 and that it first appeared in the school’s literary journal the Tabula.
How Ballad Writing Affects Our Seniors
Oh, I’ve never writ a ballad
And I’d rather eat shrimp salad,
(Tho’ the Lord knows how I hate the
Pink and scrunchy little beasts),
But Miss Dixon says I gotto
(And I pretty near forgotto)
But I’m siting at my table
And my feet are pointing east.
Now one stanza, it is over–
Oh! Heck, what rhymes with “over”?
Ah! yes; “Now I am in clover,”
But when I’ve got that over
I don’t yet know what to write.
I might write of young Lloyd Boyle,
Studry son of Irish soil,
But to write of youthful Boyle
Would involve increasing toil,
For there is so much material
I’d never get it done.
Somewhere in this blessed metre
There’s a crook. The stanzas peter
Out before I get them started
Just like that one did, just then.
But I’ll keep a-writing on
Just in hope some thought will strike me.
When it does, I’ll let it run
Just in splashes off my pen.
(Wish that blamed idea would come.)
I’ve been writing for two pages,
But it seems like countless ages,
For I’ve scribbled and I’ve scribbled,
But I haven’t said a thing.
This is getting worse each minute,
For whatever I put in it
I shall have to read before the English class.
‘Know where I would like to be–
Just a-lyin’ ‘neath a tree
Watchin’ clouds up in the sky–
Fleecy clouds a-sailin’ by
And we’d look up in the blue–
Only me, an’ maybe you.
I could write a ballad then
That would drip right off my pen.
For the future I shall promise
(If you let me live this time),
I’ll ne’er write another ballad–
Never venture into rhyme.
Despite the promise of that last line, our mystery poet did indeed pen at least three more poems while in school which appear to take their inspiration from another son of the midwest who would have been a popular (populist?) poet of the day. Oh, sure, you could probably Google some key phrases or the title and find out who the poet is, but let’s be sport about this and leave your guesses in the comments.
As for me joining Poetry Friday during the summer, we’ll shall see what I can accomplish betwen now and the end of July when all the boxes are finally unpacked.
Poetry Friday is hosted by Semicolon today.