[Milton-L] Re: Books, documents and texts

Carrol Cox cbcox at ilstu.edu
Mon Dec 13 16:06:19 EST 2004

James Rovira wrote:
> See, I think hip-hop and gangsta can at least be called bad poetry
> (though sometimes it's better than that).  Wish I had a few examples of
> what I'm thinking about at hand...
I'm unfamiliar with hip-hop myself, but I've read commentary on it by
people I respect, and on that basis would guess that some of it is very
good indeed. And how many people 40 years ago would have even speculated
that in 2005 Dylan would be considered for the Nobel Prize, or that a
major Milton scholar would write a whole book on his poetry. In any
case, it seems best to see hip-hop, good, bad, or indifferent, as
certainly poetry.

As far as I know, no one has ever really succeeded in differentiating
"poetry" clearly from "non-poetry." If the author calls it a poem, then
it's probably a poem, and we read it with the kind of expectations which
that triggers.

As to gangsta:

If you'll gather 'round me, children,
A story I will tell
'Bout Pretty Boy Floyd, an outlaw,
Oklahoma knew him well.

It was in the town of Shawnee,
A Saturday afternoon,
His wife beside him in his wagon
As into town they rode.

There a deputy sheriff approached him
In a manner rather rude,
Vulgar words of anger,
An' his wife she overheard.

Pretty Boy grabbed a log chain,
And the deputy grabbed his gun;
In the fight that followed
He laid that deputy down.

Then he took to the trees and timber
To live a life of shame;
Every crime in Oklahoma
Was added to his name.

But a many a starving farmer
The same old story told
How the outlaw paid their mortgage
And saved their little homes.

Others tell you 'bout a stranger
That come to beg a meal,
Underneath his napkin
Left a thousand dollar bill.

It was in Oklahoma City,
It was on a Christmas Day,
There was a whole car load of groceries
Come with a note to say:

Well, you say that I'm an outlaw,
You say that I'm a thief.
Here's a Christmas dinner
For the families on relief.

Yes, as through this world I've wandered
I've seen lots of funny men;
Some will rob you with a six-gun,
And some with a fountain pen.

And as through your life you travel,
Yes, as through your life you roam,
You won't never see an outlaw
Drive a family from their home.
	(Woodrow Wilson Guthrie, 1939)


Keep the x in xmas

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