The Corner

A South Dakota Poet

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.

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