Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

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Badger Clark, cowboy poet

Speaking of South Dakota, John Derbyshire at The Corner brought Badger Clark, a poet from South Dakota, to my attention.

"Reader Jon Schaff tells me a thing I did not know, am ashamed not to have known, and am now glad to have been told: ’Mr. Derbyshire--I don’t know if you are aware, but the Bob Dylan song you referenced in today’s fantastic column is actually a cowboy poem by one Charles Badger Clark, the first poet laureate of the great state of South Dakota. The poem was called "A Border Affair," but when set to music it has been called "Spanish is the Loving Tongue" after its first line. I have seen and heard many versions of this poem, but below you’ll find a version culled from this website: I also recommend his poem "Bad Half Hour."’

I’ve always liked that Dylan song much more than I like Dylan songs in general. Now I know why: The words were written by a good poet. I really like Clark’s stuff. Look at the last stanza of ’The Job.’ Sure, he’s not Keats; but this is better than 90 percent of the stuff that gets published as poetry nowadays."

Here is Clark’s The Border Affair and A Cowboy’s Prayer and The Job (do note the last paragraph, as Derbyshire recommends).

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