Monday, August 12, 2013

Monday's Poetry: "The Society Upon the Stanislaus"

by Pa Rock
Poetry Appreciator

Last Saturday I took a day trip to the historic mining community of Jerome, Arizona, where I soaked up some of the local ambiance and studied the glory of an important chapter of America's history  It was a beautiful day, and I had a wonderful time exploring and learning about the small, but still bustling, town.   Upon leaving Jerome, I stopped in the neighboring community of Clarkdale where I wandered through a flea market and a bookstore.   At the flea market I came across an 1899 edition of Bret Harte's The Luck of Roaring Camp and Other Stories.  It was in good condition and priced at only five dollars, so, needless to say, it is now at home in Glendale where I intend to read it as soon as I finish the books that I am currently enjoying.

Combining the topics of mining camps and Bret Harte, I came up with the following poem, The Society Upon the Stanislaus, for today's selection.  It is somewhat whimsical, yet well crafted and evocative of the cowboy style of poetry.

The Society Upon the Stanislaus
by Bret Harte

I reside at Table Mountain, and my name is Truthful James;
I am not up to small deceit or any sinful games;
And I'll tell in simple language what I know about the row
That broke up our Society upon the Stanislow.

But first I would remark, that it is not a proper plan
For any scientific gent to whale his fellow-man,
And, if a member don't agree with his peculiar whim,
To lay for that same member for to "put a head" on him.

Now nothing could be finer or more beautiful to see
Than the first six months' proceedings of that same Society,
Till Brown of Calaveras brought a lot of fossil bones
That he found within a tunnel near the tenement of Jones.

Then Brown he read a paper, and he reconstructed there,
From those same bones, an animal that was extremely rare;
And Jones then asked the Chair for a suspension of the rules,
Till he could prove that those same bones was one of his lost mules.

Then Brown he smiled a bitter smile, and said he was at fault,
It seemed he had been trespassing on Jones's family vault;
He was a most sarcastic man, this quiet Mr. Brown,
And on several occasions he had cleaned out the town.

Now I hold it is not decent for a scientific gent
To say another is an ass,--at least, to all intent;
Nor should the individual who happens to be meant
Reply by heaving rocks at him, to any great extent.

Then Abner Dean of Angel's raised a point of order, when
A chunk of old red sandstone took him in the abdomen,
And he smiled a kind of sickly smile, and curled up on the floor,
And the subsequent proceedings interested him no more.

For, in less time than I write it, every member did engage
In a warfare with the remnants of a palaeozoic age;
And the way they heaved those fossils in their anger was a sin,
Till the skull of an old mammoth caved the head of Thompson in.

And this is all I have to say of these improper games,
For I live at Table Mountain, and my name is Truthful James;
And I've told in simple language what I know about the row
That broke up our Society upon the Stanislow. 

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