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March 18, 2015

Poetry! What A Diversion

Tom McLaughlin

There are strange things done by the midnight sun

By the men who moil for gold

The Arctic trails have their secret tales

that would make your blood run cold;

the Northern Lights have seen queer sights,

but the queerest they ever did see

was the night on the marge of Lake Lebarge

I cremated Sam McGee.

Robert Service


Now that's poetry! A man's vision of the frosty world up north! Gut wrenching, bottle swilling poetry. Pour me a couple of finger fulls in a dirty glass and let me read by the fire. Then pass out, as the fire lays low.


The only thing I can think good of Ronald Reagan is he liked this poem and poet! I have been trying to find a decent poem ever since I stumbled onto these when I was in my teens riding a dog sled 'round the pole! And, by god, I even taught poetry to a bunch of girls. Waste of time!  (Well, okay I was in high school in suburban Virginia, but I could have been on a dog sled mushing ’round the pole!)


One of the reasons I subscribe to The New Yorker (along with Outdoor Life and A Hunting we will Go) is to try to recapture the man I felt and feel every time I read one of Services’ masterpieces.


Let's look at one in The New Yorker. (Remember I also read Outdoor Life and A Hunting We Will Go.)


The stars in their magnificent array

Look down upon the earth, their cynosure

or so it seems.


Now this starts out as a mighty fine poem, yes sir, mighty fine! Then, what the hell is a cynosure?


Sounds like something those two old bats would feed those lonely geezers in Arsenic and Old Lace.


So, get up from the chair, find old Webster's, it's around here some place, and look up cynosure. Cyno, cyno it is..."The northern constellation of Ursa Minor." Now what the hell is that? has two or three definitions below that one: "One that serves to direct and guide and a center of attraction or attention." Let's see, the Ursa Minor is the little dipper..Look down on the earth, their Little Dipper.


Time to get a couple of fingers of Red Eye and see if that won't help it make any more sense.


Okay, let's take another few lines of poem on another page.


"like Rilke wheedling his way into a palace."


Okay most of the other stanzas I understood, but who the hell is Rilke? Where did he come from?


Find Webster's again, Rilke, Maria 1875-1926 Ger. poet. Oh, yea, I know all the German poets. Especially the ones from World War 1. Great group of guys...SHE? Oh, okay! I know of all the female German poets. I can just imagine them big and fat, dressed in blue gowns, dancing in a beer garden to the tune of some old German music with a guy playing the accordion. I don't think she would wheedle her way into anywhere. More like coming through like a Mack truck!


Think I will pick up another magazine "Whoa! What a ……! Whoops! Wrong magazine here it is: A Hunting We Will Go! Whoa! What a rack!


...Life is good. . . . .


With apologies to Lee Upton "The Apology" and Clive James "Star System" in The New Yorker, March 16, 2015


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