Monday, June 7, 2021

POETRY SPOT: THE MASTERPIECE

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Just as we in Oz have our bush ballads, so the Americans have a branch of poetry known as Cowboy Poetry, a form that grew from a tradition of cowboys telling stories.

Contrary to common belief, cowboy poetry does not actually have to be written by cowboys, though some claim that authors should have some connection to the cowboy life. 

 As with the Australian bush poetry, cowboy poetry can be contemporary. Although many poets tend to focus on the historic cowboy lifestyle, historical events and the humorous aspects of the cowboy life style, the work that cowboys do continues. The cowboy lifestyle is a living tradition that exists in western North America and other areas, thus, contemporary cowboy poetry is still being created, still being recited, and still entertaining many at cowboy poetry gatherings, around campfires and cowboy poetry competitions. 

Much of what is known as "old time" country music originates from the rhyming couplet style often seen in cowboy poetry along with guitar music.

Typical themes of cowboy poetry include:
Ranch work and those who perform it
Western lifestyle
Landscape of the American and Canadian West
Cowboy values and practices
Humorous anecdotes
Memories of times and people long gone

Robert W Service is sometimes classed as a cowboy poet.

Cowboy Poetry week is celebrated each April in the United States and Canada.

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The poem below is an example of cowboy poetry.  It falters in the scanning here and there but it is fun nonetheless.  It may have been preferable as 4 line stanzas eg

A talented artist came into town
Offering portraits for a reasonable fee.
All the people lined up and he did really well 
For his work promised immortality.

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The Masterpiece

- Susan O'Connell.

A talented artist came into town offering portraits for a reasonable fee
All the people lined up and he did really well for his work promised immortality

Now the girls at the brothel wanted one too so the artist agreed they could pose
But his easel collapsed and he spilled all his paint when they proceeded to take off their clothes

For the sight of so much lovely feminine flesh let him ruffled, perturbed and upset
This was a painting he might never complete since his palms were beginning to sweat

But the girls knew the trick that would settle his nerves and by the time they were finally through
He painted with a passion of one truly inspired and kept yelling "MICHAELANGELO WHO???"

The girls patiently posed as he worked through the night, never once did his flawless strokes cease
Till the first rays of dawn lit his canvas with light revealing a true masterpiece

The girls were in awe as they gazed at his work, their praise made his confidence grow
He somehow had managed to capture their souls and their faces shown with a radiant glow

People came from all over to admire this prize even though the models were ladies of sin
The girls didn't mind the intrusion at all since it brought dozens of customers in

The painting changed hands many times through the years till no one remembered its true claim to fame
Its origin and models could never be traced since the artist neglected to paint in his name

It was purchased years later by a very rich man who unveiled it at a fancy soiree
He announced to his guests he was ninety percent sure it was a Rubens or maybe Manet

You see nudity was acceptable to the cultured and rich, that's what set this fine gentleman apart
He considered himself a connoisseur and believed that anything this lewd, must be a great work of art

The fanfare of trumpets and the rolling of drums produced a fitting unveiling effect
But the stunned silence that followed the last clarion note wasn't the reaction he thought he would get

No one said a word as they gathered their coats and quietly hurried outside
He wasn't sure he heard right but his wife seemed to sob something about social suicide

He wondered why his guests had walked out as they gazed at these beautiful nudes
To him they were an artistic depiction of nymphs and his friends were nothing but prudes

But as he stared at the painting the light finally dawned and he realized his huge oversight
For on closer inspection it was perfectly clear, that the Mayor's wife was the third from the right

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