Guest poem submitted by Mac Robb:
(Poem #1560) Elegy to a Calf (Lamento pastorello)
Oh calf, that gambolled by my door Who made me rich who now am poor, That licked my hand with milk bespread, Oh calf, calf, art dead, art dead? Oh calf, I sit and languish, calf, With somber face, I cannot laugh, Can I forget thy playful bunts? Oh calf, calf, that loved me once? With mildewed optics, deathlike, still, My nights are damp, my days are chill, I weep again with doleful sniff, Oh calf, calf, so dead, so stiff.
(actually Paul Hiebert, 1892-1987) I see that Minstrels is back up and running again after a long hiatus so the long-noted deficiency, viz., the lack of Sarah Binks, the Sweet Songstress of Saskatchewan, I now remedy. Indeed, the Minstrels have lately featured Joni Mitchell, née Joan Anderson of Saskatoon (and indeed my local Borders here in Brisbane, Australia, is touting a CD by kd lang titled "Hymns of the 49th" -- ie parallel), so prairie poesy is perhaps again waxing great in the counsels of the just. The late Paul Hiebert, a professor of chemistry at the University of Manitoba, was a staunch Mennonite and his published writings include a certain number of devotional Christian tracts which, in latter-day devoutly secular Canada haven't reach a very wide audience. His gentle teasing in "Sarah Binks" (1947) of the Great Plains inclination to literary effusion, on the other hand, was well known and vastly appreciated west of the Great Lakes; and when Peter Gzowski began a series of conversations with Professor Hiebert on national radio the Wheat Pool Medal, the maritime imagery of Wascana Lake and the disputatious footnotes regarding "Miss Iguana Binks-Barkingwell of St. Olaf's-Down-the-Drain, Hants, Hurts, Harts, England, who claims to be a distant kinswoman of Sarah Binks" came to national prominence in Canada. Prairie folk have a not wholly undeserved reputation for being somewhat po-faced and humourless: when I taught undergraduate English at the University of Regina I quickly learned not to make facetious remarks about people from small prairie towns to school teachers upgrading their qualifications at summer school -- not till I had established my bona fides as a prairie farmer myself. But (as my international literary friends observe) they do write prodigiously -- it must be the long, cold winters -- and among a huge quantity of tares there is, be it said, a substantial amount of wheat. Mac Robb Brisbane, Australia [Links] Bad poems on the Minstrels: Poem #343, The Tay Bridge Disaster -- William McGonagall Poem #399, The Indian Serenade -- Percy Bysshe Shelley Poem #948, Grand Rapids Cricket Club -- Julia A. Moore and elsewhere: http://homepages.wmich.edu/~cooneys/poems/bad/index.html