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Thinking of Russia -- Harold Harwell (H H) Lewis

(Poem #1784) Thinking of Russia
 I'm always thinking of Russia
 I can't keep her out of my head.
 I don't give a damn for Uncle Sham.
 I'm a left wing radical Red.
-- Harold Harwell (H H) Lewis
     (c. 1932)

I first read this amusing little ditty over a decade ago, quoted (without
attribution) in a newspaper opinion piece. I've been searching for it on and
off ever since, and finally found a reference to it via google (I love the
internet!). As an unexpected bonus, I found it embedded in an excellent
review (see links) of Harold Bloom's "The Best Poems of the English
Language", where the reviewer, Cary Nelson, has this to say:

  And, finally, like many steeped in high literary traditions, I have some
  favorite pieces of doggerel whose capacity to burlesque literary ambition
  and bring it down to earth is a necessary cultural and personal antidote.
  My all-time favorite remains H. H. Lewis's "Thinking of Russia".

I agree with Nelson - this is indeed a brilliant piece of verse. It has that
indefinable quality called "catchiness", which is sadly missing from most
classroom discussions of literary theory, but which is nonetheless a very
real measure of a poem's merits (witness the fact that I remembered it
fifteen years after seeing it quoted). Some combination of the easy metre,
the deliciously irreverent tone and the wonderfully rhythmic phrase "left
wing radical red" make this a poem far more timeless than its overtly
political content would suggest. It might never make the pages of Bloom's
august tome, but I'm more than happy to run it here.



The Bloom review:

54 comments: ( or Leave a comment )

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Harold Harwell received his secondary education at the Southeast Missouri , it has been the home of many of the best poet of the country!

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Capitano Tedeschi said...

I know this post is several years old, but I thank you for posting Lewis' poem. I was introduced to H. H. Lewis by Fred White while at Kansas City's Foolkiller in 1978. According to Whited two Kansas City writers Harold Dillinger and Jim Morris went to Giradeau searching for Lewis' grave and found him living in a chicken coop. The "Foolkiller" newspaper may have published some of his poems including "I'm Thinkin' about Russia."

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