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Grand Rapids Cricket Club -- Julia A Moore

Carrying on with the cricket theme...
(Poem #948) Grand Rapids Cricket Club
 In Grand Rapids is a handsome club,
      Of men that cricket play,
 As fine a set of skillful men
      That can their skill display.
 They are the champions of the West,
      They think they are quite fine,
 They've won a hundred honors well;
      It is their most cunning design.

 Brave Kelso, he's considered great,
      Chief of the club he is found;
 Great crowds he draws to see him bowl
      The ball upon the ground.
 And Mr. Follet is very brave,
      A lighter player than the rest,
 He got struck severe at the fair ground
      For which he took a rest.

 When Mr. Dennis does well play,
      His courage is full great,
 And accidents to him occur,
      But not much, though, of late.
 This ball play is a dangerous game,
      Brave knights to play it though;
 Those boys would be the nation's pride,
      If they to war would go.

 From Milwaukee their club did come,
      With thoughts of skill at play,
 But beat they was, and then went home --
      Had nothing more to say.
 Grand Rapids club that cricket play,
      Will soon be known afar,
 Much prouder do the members stand,
      Like many a noble star.
-- Julia A Moore
What can one say about a magnificent effort like today's?

    "Longfellow at his best wrote nothing like that."
    "I agree with you."

           -- Saki, "Reginald's Peace Poem"

Well, Moore herself has provided an apt description...

  All those which speak of being killed, died or drowned, are truthful
  songs; others are "more truth than poetry."

         -- Julia Moore, Preface to "The Sweet Singer of Michigan"

As have the editors of "The Stuffed Owl"...

  And she adds, defending herself against these evil men, that "Literary is
  a work very difficult to do," and that poetry from the heart has more
  power than poetry from the head.

         -- D. B. Wyndham Lewis and Charles Lee, "The Stuffed Owl: An
         Anthology of Bad Verse" on Moore

Though as Moore says

   And now kind friends, what I have wrote,
   I hope you will pass o'er,
   And not criticise as some have done,
   Hitherto herebefore

         -- Julia Moore, "The Author's Early Life"

However, criticism is what we are all about, so let us examine today's poem
in greater detail. And a most rewarding poem it is too - all the heroism and
the travails of the brave men of the Grand Rapids Cricket Club are brought
touchingly and vividly to life, and the well-deserved victory over the
upstarts from Milwaukee is passed over with masterful understatement. Note,
too, the bold use of syntactic inversions, daring eye-rhymes and charmingly
varied scansion. What from a lesser poet would be mere poetry gets turned in
Moore's hands into immortal Doggerel to which the word 'mere' doesn't even
begin to apply.


  Seamus Cooney has a wonderful Julia Moore site, which is well worth
  exploring, and from which all the quotations other than the Saki one were
    [broken link]

  And, incredible as it may seem, Moore is thoroughly eclipsed by the great
  William McGonagall:
    Poem #343, William McGonagall, "The Tay Bridge Disaster"

  Here's some more delightfully bad poetry:
    [broken link]

  And the Cricket theme thus far:
    Poem #946, Sir Henry Newbolt, "Vitaï Lampada"
    Poem #947, John Kendal, "Ballad of a Homeless Bat"


  'Tis an ill wind...

     [Nash's] rhymes are jarringly off or disconcertingly exact, and his
     ragged stanzas vary from lines of one word to lines that meander the
     length of a paragraph, often interrupted by inapposite digressions. He
     said he learned his prosody from the unintentional blunders of the
     notoriously slipshod poet Julia Moore, the "Sweet Singer of Michigan."

             -- EB on Ogden Nash


22 comments: ( or Leave a comment )

vikram doctor said...

Its literary qualities apart, the poem is interesting
as evidence of the early traditions of cricket in the
US. I remember being surprised in, Little Women, I
think, where there's a reference to the boy, what's
his name, Laurie? playing cricket,


vivian said...

Dear Martin,

As a Yank by upbringing who has always been more puzzled than entertained by
cricket when I have had the opportunity to watch it, my tastes don't really
run to cricket poetry but I do love delightfully bad verse. I wish I could
submit an example "written" by one of the characters in Vikram Seth's "A
Suitable Boy," a novel that has just about everything in it including
cricket -- which I doubt has been culled for anthologies yet -- but
unfortunately I've lent out my copy. Maybe you have one...


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