There was a Broken Man

13 February 2010

Saturday


pictogram broken man

Folk songs (and artifacts of folk culture generally) are sometimes defined in terms of their variability. That is to say, something doesn’t qualify as a genuine “folk” song unless there are several versions of it in circulation. Many of these folk songs have long histories and origins that recede back into the mists of time immemorial. For example, many of the hauntingly beautiful folk songs of Appalachia are derived from Scottish ballads that were brought to the new world by the peoples who settled a land in some ways as difficult as the land they left.

I have not previously posted any of my poetry in this forum, but I can make the excuse that what follows is just another variation on the poem, “There was a Crooked Man,” which, as an expression of folk culture, is known in many versions. Here is yet another version.


There was a Broken Man

There was a broken man, who lived a broken life,
He had a broken marriage, and lost his broken wife,
So he got a broken cat, who chased a broken mouse,
And they all lived together in a broken little house.

A broken house: appropriate domicile for a broken man, a broken cat, and a broken mouse.


On the subject of broken men, some months ago I wrote this:

Even the ruin of a man can write poetry — some of the most profoundly damaged spirits have given us the greatest literature. But no ruin of a man can write philosophy, which demands an Apollonian spirit, together with the passion of Achilles and the wiles of Odysseus.


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