It will give entirely the wrong impression if I *don’t* put up a Palin post of my own. For I am so very pleased, that whatever happens from one moment to the next, I can instantly cheer myself up by reminding myself who the Republican vice-presidential nominee is. I intend, of course, to keep chiming in rationally and analytically on Marco’s blog and Lexifab’s blog. But here, I am afraid I intend to give way to foolish emoting.
Since I heard the news, on one of the great motorways of south-east Queensland, I have had Vachel Lindsay’s poem ‘Bryan, Bryan, Bryan, Bryan’ running through my head. I don’t think I am the only one, either.
(If you can’t think offhand who Vachel Lindsay was, he wrote ‘The Congo’, some of the less politically-incorrect bits of which you will have heard chanted by the lads in ‘Dead Poets’ Society’ as they galumph through the forest beating a drum in the dead of night.)
I know I just posted a quote- with which I entirely agree- about the folly and evil of submerging oneself in the collective, but what I am going to do now amounts to giving voice to my tribal identity. One of my tribal identities, anyway. This is no identity as philosophically coherent as a Catholic identity or a small-government identity, but almost entirely a 'young-Western-state-of-wide-open-spaces' identity. What I am going to do is put up big slabs of the first, cheerful, triumphalist, part of Vachel Lindsay’s poem, and it will be obvious which words need to be replaced to bring it up to date. Here goes!
‘In a nation of one hundred fine, mob-hearted, relenting, repenting millions,
There are plenty of sweeping, swinging, stinging, gorgeous things to shout about,
And knock your old blue devils out.’
[Three may scan as well as one…]
‘There were truths eternal in the gab and tittle-tattle.
There were real heads broken in the fustian and the rattle.
There were real lines drawn,
Not the silver and the gold,
But Nebraska’s cry went eastward against the dour and old,
The mean and cold.’
‘Against the towns of Tubal Cain,
Ah,- sharp was their song.
Against the ways of Tubal Cain, too cunning for the young, the longhorn calf, the buffalo and wampus gave tongue.
These creatures were defending things Mark Hanna never dreamed:
The moods of airy childhood that in desert dews gleamed,
The gossamers and whimsies,
The monkeyshines and didoes
Rank and strange
Of the canyons and the range,
The ultimate fantastics
Of the far western slope,
And of prairie schooner children
Born beneath the stars,
Beneath falling snows,
Of the babies born at midnight
In the sod huts of lost hope,
With no physician there,
Except a Kansas prayer,
With the Indian raid a howling through the air.
And all these in their helpless days
By the dour East oppressed
Making their mistakes for them,
Crucifying half the West,
Till the whole Atlantic coast
Seemed a giant spiders’ nest.’
[Easy enough to replace Mark with Joe!]
‘And these children with their sons
At last rode through the cactus,
A cliff of mighty cowboys
On the lope,
With gun and rope.
And all the way to frightened Maine the old East heard them call,
And saw our Bryan by a mile lead the wall
Of men and whirling flowers and beasts,
The bard and the prophet of them all.
Prairie avenger, mountain lion,
Bryan, Bryan, Bryan, Bryan,
Gigantic troubadour, speaking like a siege gun,
Smashing Plymouth Rock with his boulders from the West,
And just a hundred miles behind, tornadoes piled across the sky,
Blotting out sun and moon,
A sign on high.
Headlong, dazed and blinking in the weird green light,
The scalawags made moan,
Afraid to fight.’
[Loud, loud is the moaning of the scalawags! I can’t think of anything for ‘mountain lion’ that scans at all well, alas, alack.]
With every bridle gone,
Ridding the world of the low down mean,
Bidding the eagles of the West fly on,
Bidding the eagles of the West fly on,’
[Bidding the eagles of the West fly on! Bidding the eagles of the West fly on!
Of course, it may still all end in tears:]
‘Defeat of the aspen groves of Colorado valleys,
The blue bells of the Rockies,
And blue bonnets of old Texas,
By the Pittsburg alleys.
Defeat of alfalfa and the Mariposa lily.
Defeat of the Pacific and the long Mississippi.
Defeat of the young by the old and silly.
Defeat of tornadoes by the poison vats supreme.
Defeat of my boyhood, defeat of my dream.’
Emoting over. Normal service resumes.