14 Comments

Those who do not learn from history are condemned to make asinine remarks about it.

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Very nice, Michelle -- thanks for the ride! Like Hans, I attach a slightly different story to the poem, but I enjoyed yours. In my own ‘expanded imagining’ of the scene, the horse has a name, and the driver speaks to it often, both to offer encouragement and to keep himself awake. And the soundscape includes the horse’s snorts and footfalls along with the soft creak of the shafts.

BTW, that first “a” doesn’t belong in the poem’s title.

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Michelle, you are a very talented writer and I enjoy reading your articles. Having had the good fortune to attend school in the 1950s, when part of the curriculum was to memorize poetry, the subject of your article was part of the syllabus. I still find myself reciting it in my head along with Casey at the Bat and my favorite Robert Service poems about Dan McGrew and Sam McGee. As a regular reader of your work I would respectfully ask that no modern interpretation be placed on the last four lines of the opening stanza of the Cremation of Sam McGee as some of the words could lead to an alternative interpretation which would possibly impugn his hitherto impeccable good character:

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.

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Thank you for your Stopping by Woods story. I too happen to like that poem a lot and enjoyed your reflection on that but my imagination told me a different story which despite all the snow made me feel warm just the same.

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Michelle I appreciate our reality expressed by you. We desperately need it more today in a Canada that wants us to believe lies are Truths.

Thank You.

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Thank you.

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Here’s the thing about poems, they’re supposed to open up a world of imagination, evoke scenes and experiences, just like this one did for you.

The catch is, you can’t really control the scenes and experiences in other people’s minds. If this evokes Dante for someone, that evokes curiosity for me and not rage. Obviously they’re dealing with a lot of their own historical context to get there. Maybe they had a friend commit suicide near enough in time to their reading of the poem for the connection to be made.

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People in the developed democracies are spoiled, generally. And that leads to wokeness and pomo and critical studies and ...

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I found this excerpt funny: When asked to reveal the hidden meaning of his poems, Robert Frost’s response was

“If I wanted you to know I’d had told you in the poem.” I spent hours trying to decipher his poems. It comforts me to know there isn’t something clearly put behind the verse.

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