Friday, April 25, 2014

Bad Poetry 2: "Indiana"

Returning from Chicago to the Crossroads of America (presumably called so because the only reason you'd enter it is to go to somewhere else), I discovered-- or rather my girlfriend did-- that Indiana has a State Beverage (wait for it . . . Water!) and a State Firearm (Grouseland Rifle). This spurred me to further, um, investigation.

While it's not one of the few states badass enough to boast an official State Dinosaur, it does have a State Poem, and it is a Bad Poem indeed. I present to you "Indiana" by Arthur Franklin Mapes.

God crowned her hills with beauty,
Gave her lakes and winding streams,
Then He edged them all with woodlands
As the setting for our dreams.
Lovely are her moonlit rivers,
Shadowed by the sycamores,
Where the fragrant winds of Summer
Play along the willowed shores.
I must roam those wooded hillsides,
I must heed the native call,
For a pagan voice within me
Seems to answer to it all.
I must walk where squirrels scamper
Down a rustic old rail fence,
Where a choir of birds is singing
In the woodland . . . green and dense.
I must learn more of my homeland
For it's paradise to me,
There's no haven quite as peaceful,
There's no place I'd rather be.
Indiana . . . is a garden
Where the seeds of peace have grown,
Where each tree, and vine, and flower
Has a beauty . . . all its own.
Lovely are the fields and meadows,
That reach out to hills that rise
Where the dreamy Wabash River
Wanders on . . . through paradise.
This is a crap poem for several reasons: the inexplicable ellipses, the profusion of clich├ęs, the recourse to the most obvious filler words to complete the meter, hell the meter itself, which resists even the more liberal systems of scansion.

Who, when s/he hears the word "Indiana," is not invaded by mental images of "moonlit rivers,"  "willowed shores," and "wooded islands"? Who has not experienced the "fragrant winds" of Gary?

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