Saturday, October 16, 2010

"Lines on Receiving the Picture of Mr. and Mrs. Geddes" by Ypsilanti Farmer-Poet William Lambie

William Lambie was a Ypsilanti farmer of Scottish extraction. His 1882 introduction to his book of prose and poetry "Life on the Farm" reads thus:

"On stormy days and while resting at noon I have been in the habit of writing the thoughts that passed through my mind while working on the farm. No one complains that farmers write too many books, or make too many speeches, or are in any way burdensome on humanity. They are known by their fruits rather than by their books, and if they fall behind In harmony and eloquence they often more than make it up in common sense and useful industry. The pulpit, the bar, and the press are well represented, but we hear very little from a farmer's standpoint--those who produce the most seem to have the least to say.

"When thousands of intelligent people spend so much time and money on books of fiction, no reasonable person can object to a farmer writing a book on what is true, regarding what sustains all classes in this and every other land. In collecting my scattered letters and publishing them, I hope no one will be offended, and some will be entertained and benefited. And if any one does not like my book, I hope they will write a far better one on the same useful subject, and I will not be offended at those whose powers overshadow mine, but rather be glad that I have been the means of 'provoking them to good works.' --W. L."

In other words, take it or leave it. Dusty D likes Lambie's self-confident pro-farmer standpoint. There's even a whiff of superiority--the farmer as the laconic yet useful producer as compared to windier professions. Dusty D likes that too. Without further ado, here is "Lines on Receiving the Picture of Mr. and Mrs. Geddes."

Thanks for the picture honest John
Of your good wife and you;
They mind us of the days that are gone
While Michigan was new.

They help to make our old hearts gay,
While standing in our view;
For forty years have passed away,
Since we found you kind and true.

We meet at church on Sabbath morn,
When you walk three miles or more;
All glad to see your manly form,
So active at four score.

For forty years you run your mill,
And seldom left the saw;
Aye working with a right good will,
For honor and Washtenaw.

A Republican true and strong,
Outspoken, brave and hearty;
Denouncing every sham and wrong;
And all the "whisky party."

A Deacon true in life and word,
A kind and generous giver;
Fighting life's battle at Geddesburg,
Beside the Huron river.

Up at your work by morning light,
For more than fifty years;
The banner man when friends unite,
And king of the pioneers.

--William Lambie


Building Place said...

Where's that pesky "Like!" button - this is great stuff!

Dusty D said...

:) Thank you BP: I enjoy reading his work. I think I'll make his work a regular Saturday feature. Many of his works are written in some degree of Scottish dialect and he came from one of several old-time Scottish area families. I think it's interesting to note the onetime local contributions of a usually lesser-represented immigrant group in addition to the usual English and German and New England immigrants to this area.