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Elegy to a Calf (Lamento pastorello) -- Sarah Binks

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.
-- Sarah Binks
        (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

34 comments: ( or Leave a comment )

rita liddle said...

Why does this little cutsie (as far as uglies go) by Sarah Binks remind me of this pearl by Piet Hein ? :

No cow's like a horse,
and no horse like a cow.
That's one similarity
anyhow.

If there is no answer coming, I will classify my question as a rhetorical one.

*signed* Rita "born an bred" in the Bavarian Alps, where the winters are loooooong and cold too, now living in Sydney, Australia, where it never ever snows, alas !

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