Tuesday, October 15, 2013

"Arizony's Probation" (1909)

The following doesn't include the entire poem. What makes it sort of interesting, aside from reminding how Arizona was the last join the United States prior to Alaska and Hawaii, is the framing of it concerning the role "newspaper poems."

If newspaper poems are a requisite to Statehood, the admission of Arizona need be delayed no longer. There is evidence of a great literary renaissance in the Territory. Charles B. Clark, jr., the "Cow Boy Poet," writes of "Arizony's Probation" in the Tombstone Prospector:

Though the Utah man wears a dozen yokes,

        And Nevada stacks her chips,

They belong to the forty-six grown-up folks

        And nobody minds their slips;

But young Arizony must do right

        And her people must be good,

So she'll walk in robes of shinin' white

        When she jines the sisterhood.

The bard proceeds:

In the gloomy mines and roarin' mills

        Where the air was once so blue,

They have changed their ways and assumed the frills

        Of the W.C.T.U.

And the fireman sweats, but he plans to flee

        From the blisterin' fires to come,

And the miner just says, "Oh, dear me!"

        If the hard steel whacks his thumb.

It is, however, in his vision of Arizona entering the charmed circle that the poet rises to his best:

When our Arizony sashays forth,

        Dainty white as her yucca bloom,

All the fat old States to the east and north

        Will remark, as they make her room—

"It is plain to see by your sweet face, dear,

        That you're strange to the ways of sin;

Plum stainless is a rare thing here

        And we need you had. Come in."

N.Y. Evening Post. March 20, 1909: 4 col 6.

Arizona unfortunately caught up with the rest of the United States on sin pretty quickly.

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