Last night I was browsing through the archives of “Writers’ Almanac” and I found a poem titled “Fargo” on the September 9, 2011 archive date.
Here it is….and it is by John Updike, a rather well-known American writer.
“The fertillest soil this side of the Tigris
and Euphrates”—-so the schoolchildren
of the countryside are taught of their land
flat as far as a checkerboard to the hem of the sky.
The giant sky, pale green at dusk, stays black
long after morning cow-milking time.
Wind is incessant in winter, so
that snow fall sideways,like arctic sunshine.
This land of Lutherans and sugar beets
thickens its marvelous thinness here at the edge
of a Red River whose windings alone
betray the rectilinear. Downtown,
parking space is no problem, and grain-fed health
rewards those God’s grandeur does not drive mad.
(John Updike, from “Collected Poems 1953-1993″
Alfred A. Knopf, 1993.
I wonder when and if Updike visited Fargo. It sounds like he has been here. But how does he figure parking space is no problem downtown? Was he there in the middle of the night?
He also seems to have “cow milking” slightly confused…unless there were a lot of dairy farms in the valley when he was here.
I like the line, “and grain-fed health rewards those God’s grandeur does not drive mad.”
He is obviously not a midwestern prairie and plains person like so many of us are!!!!! I would guess he is an east coaster…and olne who considers himself quite Elite!!!!
He got the winter snowfall correct—-”the snow falls sideways”.
Was he in Fargo one January? Maybe at a college lecture series?????
I think he is not a prairie or plains person at all.