A Little Blogspiration

One of the great things about blogging is that there is always so much inspiration if you ever happen to run out of ideas, not that I’m in danger of running out of ideas, mind you.

However, I’m about to go on vacation for a week, so I’m unwilling to start a new project right now. If I were, though, I would be sorely tempted by Jeff’s mentioning that as part of his ongoing project he’s going to be examining Archibald McLeish, who I just happened to encounter in pursuit of my last idea. He’s actually one of the few poets I don’t seem to own an entire book by, so I was forced to look him up in a few anthologies. I was particularly attracted to Part 5 of “ Frescoes for Mr. Rockefeller’s City:


The Museum Attendant:

This is The Making of America in Five Panels:

This is Mister Harriman making America:
The Sante Fe is shining on his hair:

This is Commodore Vanderbilt making America:
Observe the carving on the rocking chair:

This is J. P. Morgan making America:
(The Tennessee Coal is behind to the left of the Steel Company:)
Those in mauve are braces he is wearing:

This is Mister Mellon making America:

This is the Bruce is the Barton making America:
This is he in beige with the canary:

You have just beheld the Makers making America.
This is The Making of America in Five Panels:
America lies to the west-southwest of the Switch-Tower:
There is nothing to see of America but land:

The Original Document under the Panel Paint:

"To Thos. Jefferson Esq. his obd't serv't
M. Lewis: captain: detached:

Having in mind your repeated commands in this matter:
And the worst half of it done and the streams mapped:

And we here on the back of this beach beholding the
Other ocean-two years gone and the cold

Breaking with rain for the third spring since St. Louis:
The crows at the fishbones on the frozen dunes:

The first cranes going over from south north:
And the river down by a mark of the pole since the morning:

And time near to return, and a ship (Spanish)
Lying in for the salmon: and fearing chance or the

Drought or the Sioux should deprive you of these discoveries-
Therefore we send by sea in this writing:

Above the

Platte there were long plains and a clay country:
Rim of the sky far off: grass under it:

Dung for the cook fires by the sulphur licks:
After that there were low hills and the sycamores:

And we poled up by the Great Bend in the skiffs:
The honey bees left us after the Osage River:

The wind was west in the evenings and no dew and the
Morning Star larger and whiter than usual-

The winter rattling in the brittle haws:
The second year there was sage and the quail calling:

All that valley is good land by the river:
Three thousand miles and the clay cliffs and

Rue and beargrass by the water banks
And many birds and the brant going over and tracks of

Bear elk wolves marten: the buffalo
Numberless so that the cloud of their dust covers them:

The antelope fording the fall creeks: and the mountains and
Grazing lands and the meadow lands and the ground

Sweet and open and well-drained:

We advise you to
Settle troops at the forks and to issue licenses:

Many men will have living on these lands:
There is wealth in the earth for them all and the wood standing
And wild birds on the water where they sleep:
There is stone in the hills for the towns of a great people

You have just beheld the Makers making America:

They screwed her scrawny and gaunt with their seven-year panics
They bought her back on their mortgages old-whore-cheap:
They fattened their bonds at her breasts till the thin blood ran from them:

Men have forgotten how full clear and deep
The Yellowstone moved on the gravel and grass grew
When the land lay waiting for her westward people!

I could easily spend the day expanding on the poem, but I’ll just let the lines I’ve put in bold serve as my commentary. I may well have to run out and purchase McLeish’s collected poems and take a look at them in the near future.

Though I’m not much interested in war bloggers and sure as hell don’t favor an American invasion of Iraq unless we can come up with better evidence than I’ve read so far, while reading Jonathon’s page today I was tempted to comment on his line that “It is commonly observed by students of military history that civilian enthusiasm for going to war is inversely proportional to the sum of combat experience and eligibility for military service.”

For the moment, this Vietnam veteran will let Stephen Crane’s short poem serve as my rejoinder to those who think it wise to invade Iraq:

There was a crimson clash of war.
Lands turned black and bare;
Women wept;
Babes ran, wondering.
There came one who understood not these things.
He said, "Why is this?"
Whereupon a million strove to answer him.
There was such intricate clamor of tongues,
That still the reason was not.

Finally, after reading Juliet’s Ecologues I was tempted to run out and join in reading Ayn Rand’s The Fountainhead so I, too, can join in on the attack. My dislike of Rand, of course, was inspired far earlier when some of my wife’s conservative friends informed her that Rand was the “fountainhead” of popular conservatism. How ironic that a Czarist refugee should inspire the latest populist version of Christian conservatism.

Well, I'll be blogged! I think I’m finding a common theme here!

Little wonder it always struck me as an exercise in futility when I tried to teach logic to my writing classes. After all, who needs it in the world we live in? There are certainly damn few signs of it to be found in the “popular” media, and fewer signs of it in too many of the “popular” blogs, for that matter.

2 thoughts on “A Little Blogspiration

  1. McLeish was always a favorite of mine – I was just reminded of his linem, Hoka, Hoka, Hey –

    from Frescoes for Mr Rockefeller’s City

    was hoping the whole work would be here, but just glad you had what you did have here – I see that the last comments and original post have been some time ago, wondering what additional thoughts you’ve had on him — there seems to be little of his style in today’s political mileau

What do you think?