Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Lucinda Matlock/Snap the Whip


Winslow Homer, Snap the Whip (1872)

Whatever the latest election cycle promises in terms of policy, it is already clear that future elections will bring more of the YouTubing, link bombing, and robocalling that dominated the 2006 cycle. I thought briefly this evening of composing a visually and technologically intense post called "The Four Horsemen of the Macacalypse," in honor of Wonkette's riff on the nastiest Senate race of 2006. And with an image as hilarious as the one at right — in due course, it will be the right-of-center equivalent of the image of the helmeted Michael Dukakis driving a tank — I had a hard time resisting. But I've already said my fill about genus Macaca, and George Allen is so pathetic that it isn't sporting to kick him any further.

Instead, in tribute to a brand of conservatism that has gone undercover during the Bush 43 years, I will be content to fall back on the virtues of two old-fashioned art forms: representational painting and conventional poetry. To accompany the image above of Winslow Homer's Snap the Whip, I share a bit of American poetry that remains fresh despite its age. Edgar Lee Masters doesn't reach high, but he does hit his target. From Spoon River Anthology (1916), this is "Lucinda Matlock":
I went to the dances at Chandlerville,
And played snap-out at Winchester.
One time we changed partners,
Driving home in the moonlight of middle June,
And then I found Davis.
We were married and lived together for seventy years,
Enjoying, working, raising the twelve children,
Eight of whom we lost
Ere I had reached the age of sixty.
I spun, I wove, I kept the house, I nursed the sick,
I made the garden, and for holiday
Rambled over the fields where sang the larks,
And by Spoon River gathering many a shell,
And many a flower and medicinal weed —
Shouting to the wooded hills, singing to the green valleys.
At ninety-six I had lived enough, that is all,
And passed to a sweet repose.
What is this I hear of sorrow and weariness,
Anger, discontent and drooping hopes?
Degenerate sons and daughters,
Life is too strong for you —
It takes life to love Life.

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