Thursday, May 29, 2008

Cutter At The Capital


Long Island's Poet Laureate Sees a Whitehouse Reception.

(From the Washington Post.)

Bloodgood H. Cutter, the Long Island farmer-poet — he says so himself — has given a description of a White House reception which should not be allowed to pass into oblivion. Almost everybody in Washington has, at one time or another, attended this particular function. Bloodgood H. Cutter, therefore, can throw no new light upon its character. But not everybody has seen it through a poet's eyes, caught its subtle meaning, and tracked its more momentous suggestions to their hiding places. Of course, the farmer-poet begins upon us gently:

To the President, reception went
In crowds outside the people stood,
For several hours some did wait,
The rich and poor, the bad and good.

O what a trial it was then
To stand so long out in the cold,
And then the pressure was so great
Quite dang'rous to the young and old.

Quite ordinary persons would have seen things much this way — counted the hours in the same commonplace spirit and calculated the chances on pink-eye or influenza just as Bloodgood Cutter did. In the next verse, however, we leave the beaten track and wander among the daisies and the violets of thought —

We tried there to each other cheer
In a mild and pleasing way,
Some did verses and their lines recite
In many ways each had their say.

Next, in a rush and whirl of rhetoric unknown to Jenkins and his tribe, we effect an entrance —

About nine the policeman came
To get ready to open the door,
After a while they did it ope
And began the rush and roar.

It was very dangerous then,
When the crowd outside 'gainst us did push
I had hard work to free myself
Or 'gainst doorpost they would me crush.

The poet escaped, though, and once past the breakers and the rocks he floated pleasantly in tranquil waters —

Then as we near'd reception room
In single file through door did go
There President and lady stood
Both shook my hand as I went slow.

Then Bloodgood drew a good, long breath and looked about him. Then, with easy and flowing, but vivid touches, full of warmth and color, he immortalized the tableau —

Behind the grandee ladies stood
So richly clad in modern style,
To see so many necks all bare
Made some feel sad and others smile.

'Tis sad to think our ladies dear
In this way risk their precious lives;
Many in this way do catch cold
Depriving husbands of their wives.

About 10,000 said was there
On President that night did call,
It was indeed such a large crowd,
Could hardly get by them at all.

Through that large room I did pass through
Then with the crowd I gazed around,
Upon the nice paintings that were there
And other rare things that were found.

Why do not poets come oftener to these somewhat tedious celebrations, to beguile the hours of waiting with instructive discourse and to improve the opportunity for those who cannot attend in person? Why is not Bloodgood H. Cutter more numerous, more frequent, and more communicative?

No comments: