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December 9, 2013

Ancient Music


Winter is icummen in,
Lhude sing Goddamm.
Raineth drop and staineth slop,
And how the wind doth ramm!
Sing: Goddamm.

Skiddeth bus and sloppeth us,
An ague hath my ham.
Freezeth river, turneth liver,
Damn you, sing: Goddamm.

Goddamm, Goddamm, 'tis why I am, Goddamm,
So 'gainst the winter's balm.

Sing goddamm, damm, sing Goddamm.
Sing goddamm, sing goddamm, DAMM.

-- Ezra Pound

Posted by gerardvanderleun at December 9, 2013 12:08 PM. This is an entry on the sideblog of American Digest: Check it out.

Your Say

Where I'm from, Western NY, there's two kind of folks - those that like winter and pussies.

Break out the bourbon, the venison stew and put on another layer. Hell, Spring is only six months away.

Posted by: tim at December 9, 2013 1:07 PM

As a native son of the Deep South I too despise too much cold. A rejection of snow and ice is simply built into Southerners' genes and we gladly leave it to those who love it.

Calling us 'pussies' won't sway us to anger or resentment, either. For our part, we are delighted that you enjoy the subzero climes and we truly hope your heating bill doesn't keep you from buying sensible shoes for a nice stroll in the stuff.

Actually, one of the most enjoyable 3-4 month stints in the cold for me occurred during a short tenure in central Michigan. I noticed that all of the men had poorly manicured beards, 99% of the women were obese, no body bathed and everyone was drunk most of the time. Sleigh bells…..? I never heard a one.

But back to the article. I kinda think old Ezra overstated his contempt of winter with that poor attempt at poetry. I also think that Ezra may be wishing, right about, now for a little ice.

Posted by: Jack at December 9, 2013 1:29 PM

I don't particularly care for cold either, having been raised in it. And like Brother Dave Gardner put, "Y'aint never heard of anybody retiring to the North, have you?"

In order to appreciate Pound's "poor attempt at poetry," however, a little literacy is essential. Winter Is Icumen In is a parody of a 15th-century English round known to all schoolchildren of his time:

Summer is acumen in
Loude sing cuckoo
Groweth seed and bloweth mead
And spring the woods anew
Sing cuckoo
Ewe now bleateth after lamb low
After calf the cow
Bullock starteth, buck now verteth
Merry sing cuckoo
Cuckoo, cuckoo
Well sing'st thou cuckoo
Now cease than never now

Posted by: Rob De Witt at December 9, 2013 1:51 PM

I grew up in Southeastern Michigan, went to college in da U.P., eh, served an Army tour in Korea, and have had enough winter to last a lifetime. I really don't mind bundling up, throwing another log on the fire, and turning up the furnace a notch or two. I also know how to drive in snow, even with a rear-wheel drive car, so I rarely get stuck. It's just the overall inconvenience of it. Why should I live somewhere that I need to have a full winter wardrobe, snow tires, an engine block heater, a snow blower in my garage and a snow shovel in my car, and, as Jack noted, a heating bill remains in the stratosphere for 8 months at a time? I discovered Southeast Asia 30 or so years ago, and quickly learned that I didn't need to wear anything warmer there than a short-sleeve golf shirt at any time of the year. My parents also moved to Florida around then, first as snowbirds, then permanently. So these days, it's warm climates for me. Call me a pussy if you insist, but while you're waiting for spring, I'll be on the tee box/tennis court in my shorts and lightweight shirt. And bourbon is just as available here as it is up north.

Posted by: waltj at December 9, 2013 2:04 PM

Thank you Rob. Nice to see a man ready to do the job I won't do.

Posted by: vanderleun at December 9, 2013 2:32 PM

Nice snowfall in Lansing, light dusting. And it will get worse, this I know.

The 'Bleak Midwinter' is coming upon us. This I know. And I do grumble and curse.

But what is Pound's problem? It isn't an actual surprise - this is winter! In Michigan!

What on earth is that old woman getting on about? Winter is uncomfortable, true. And if you do not want to deal with this winter then hike away.

Or I will wish you sent to Copper Harbor where you really will have something to bitch about!

Posted by: Mikey NTH at December 9, 2013 5:43 PM

I always considered myself pretty literate Rob, but I have to confess that other than Housman and a few limericks, I despise most poetry, I dislike Ezra Pound across the board and I'm damned ignorant of all 15th Century English rounds and of all parodies, thereof.

I am literate of a few Irish whiskies though, although I don't drink them any longer. And of women, fish in the Spring, the woods in the Fall, of fine rifles that shoot straight and, when I was younger, of horses. With those things to ponder I just never had the slightest interest in spending time trying to unravel Middle English verse.

Posted by: Jack at December 9, 2013 7:31 PM

Jack & Walt,

Seems I struck a nerve with ya‘ll. Well bless your hearts and your guilty consciences.

Admittedly a clarification is in order. I was referring to those of us who live in the great white north yet still choose to bitch about it. Or make a snow sculpture to express ones displeasure with winter. Hell, just make the best of a sucky situation or move. Some of us have learned this lesson and have decided that we need to embrace the snow and live a bitch free life.

Sort’a like living with hurricanes, bugs the size of small animals, inbred neighbors with no teeth or brains, etc.

Now Jack, I’m not going to defend Central Michigan, but let’s face facts, I’ve been down South, you boys got some heifers down there and ya’ know it. Fess up -


Now, to leave this on a good note, I think we can all agree that Canadians are out of their curling playing freakin’ minds.

Posted by: tim at December 10, 2013 6:54 AM

I don't feel a bit guilty about it, Tim. You want winter, you're welcome to it. And I'm happy to let you have my share as well, free of charge. If you're fine with where you are, good on ya. I paid my dues and enjoyed it when I was young, but I've come to the point in my life where most of my close relatives have passed on or have also departed to warmer climes, I can afford to live pretty much where I want (within reason), and year-round golf is more of an attraction to me now than having 4 major ski areas within 30 minutes' drive. So I choose more southerly latitudes these days.

Posted by: waltj at December 10, 2013 3:22 PM

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