Moonbeams From The Larger Lunacy

4.0 Ram Spudd -- The New World Singer


The discovery of a new poet is always a joy to the cultivated world. It is therefore with the greatest pleasure that we are able to announce that we ourselves, acting quite independently and without aid from any of the English reviews of the day, have discovered one. In the person of Mr. Ram Spudd, of whose work we give specimens below, we feel that we reveal to our readers a genius of the first order. Unlike one of the most recently discovered English poets who is a Bengalee, and another who is a full-blooded Yak, Mr. Spudd is, we believe, a Navajo Indian. We believe this from the character of his verse. Mr. Spudd himself we have not seen. But when he forwarded his poems to our office and offered with characteristic modesty to sell us his entire works for seventy-five cents, we felt in closing with his offer that we were dealing not only with a poet, but with one of nature’s gentlemen.

Mr. Spudd, we understand, has had no education. Other newly discovered poets have had, apparently, some. Mr. Spudd has had, evidently, none. We lay stress on this point. Without it we claim it is impossible to understand his work.

What we particularly like about Ram Spudd, and we do not say this because we discovered him but because we believe it and must say it, is that he belongs not to one school but to all of them. As a nature poet we doubt very much if he has his equal; as a psychologist, we are sure he has not. As a clear lucid thinker he is undoubtedly in the first rank; while as a mystic he is a long way in front of it. The specimens of Mr. Spudd’s verse which we append herewith were selected, we are happy to assure our readers, purely at random from his work. We first blindfolded ourselves and then, standing with our feet in warm water and having one hand tied behind our back, we groped among the papers on our desk before us and selected for our purpose whatever specimens first came to hand.

As we have said, or did we say it, it is perhaps as a nature poet that Ram Spudd excels. Others of our modern school have carried the observation of natural objects to a high degree of very nice precision, but with Mr. Spudd the observation of nature becomes an almost scientific process. Nothing escapes him. The green of the grass he detects as in an instant. The sky is no sooner blue than he remarks it with unerring certainty. Every bird note, every bee call, is familiar to his trained ear. Perhaps we cannot do better than quote the opening lines of a singularly beautiful sample of Ram Spudd’s genius which seems to us the last word in nature poetry. It is called, with characteristic daintiness—


(We would like to say that, to our ears at least, there is a music in this title like the sound of falling water, or of chopped ice. But we must not interrupt ourselves. We now begin. Listen.)

The thermometer is standing this morning at thirty-three decimal one.
As a consequence it is freezing in the shade, but it is thawing in the sun.
There is a certain amount of snow on the ground, but of course not too much.
The air is what you would call humid, but not disagreeable to the touch.

Where I am standing I find myself practically surrounded by trees,
It is simply astonishing the number of the different varieties one sees.

I’ve grown so wise I can tell each different tree by seeing it glisten,
But if that test fails I simply put my ear to the tree and listen,
And, well, I suppose it is only a silly fancy of mine perhaps,
But do you know I’m getting to tell different trees by the sound of their saps.

After I have noticed all the trees, and named those I know in words,
I stand quite still and look all round to see if there are any birds,
And yesterday, close where I was standing, sitting in some brush on the snow,
I saw what I was practically absolutely certain was an early crow.

I sneaked up ever so close and was nearly beside it, when say!
It turned and took one look at me, and flew away.

But we should not wish our readers to think that Ram Spudd is always and only the contemplative poet of the softer aspects of nature. Oh, by no means. There are times when waves of passion sweep over him in such prodigious volume as to roll him to and fro like a pebble in the surf. Gusts of emotion blow over him with such violence as to hurl him pro and con with inconceivable fury. In such moods, if it were not for the relief offered by writing verse we really do not know what would happen to him. His verse written under the impulse of such emotions marks him as one of the greatest masters of passion, wild and yet restrained, objectionable and yet printable, that have appeared on this side of the Atlantic. We append herewith a portion, or half portion, of his little gem entitled

With your warm, full, rich, red, ripe lips,
And your beautifully manicured finger-tips!

With your heaving, panting, rapidly expanding and contracting chest,
Lying against my perfectly ordinary shirt-front and dinner-jacket vest.
It is too much
Your touch
As such.

It and
Your hand,
Can you not understand?

Last night an ostrich feather from your fragrant hair
Unnoticed fell.

I guard it

From your tiara I have slid,
A single diamond,
And I keep it

Last night you left inside the vestibule upon the sill
A quarter dollar,
And I have it

But even those who know Ram Spudd as the poet of nature or of passion still only know a part of his genius. Some of his highest flights rise from an entirely different inspiration, and deal with the public affairs of the nation. They are in every sense comparable to the best work of the poets laureate of England dealing with similar themes. As soon as we had seen Ram Spudd’s work of this kind, we cried, that is we said to our stenographer, “What a pity that in this republic we have no laureateship. Here is a man who might truly fill it.” Of the poem of this kind we should wish to quote, if our limits of space did not prevent it, Mr. Spudd’s exquisite

It is a matter of the very gravest concern to at least nine-tenths of the business interests in the United States,

Whether an all-round reduction of the present tariff either on an ad valorem or a specific basis

Could be effected without a serious disturbance of the general industrial situation of the country.

But, no, we must not quote any more. No we really mustn’t. Yet we cannot refrain from inserting a reference to the latest of these laureate poems of Ram Spudd. It appears to us to be a matchless specimen of its class, and to settle once and for all the vexed question (though we ourselves never vexed it) of whether true poetry can deal with national occasions as they arise. It is entitled:

ACT OF 1914,
and, though we do not propose to reproduce it here, our distinct feeling is that it will take its rank beside Mr. Spudd’s Elegy on the Interstate Commerce Act, and his Thoughts on the Proposal of a Uniform Pure Food Law.

But our space does not allow us to present Ram Spudd in what is after all his greatest aspect, that of a profound psychologist, a questioner of the very meaning of life itself. His poem Death and Gloom, from which we must refrain from quoting at large, contains such striking passages as the following:

Why do I breathe, or do I?
What am I for, and whither do I go?
What skills it if I live, and if I die,
What boots it?
Any one knowing Ram Spudd as we do will realize that these questions, especially the last, are practically unanswerable.

[1] Mr. Spudd was discovered by the author for the New York Life. He is already recognized as superior to Tennyson and second only, as a writer of imagination, to the Sultan of Turkey.