Thursday, January 21, 2010

When the Scoters Fly

Burgess did not regard himself as a poet but he did like to write in verse and considered himself quite good at it. This would give him the confidence to explore advertising copywriting (even though copy in verse was pretty much outmoded by this time). He had some early publication success. In his autobiography he lists a poem to "a four-pond trout that I had yet to catch" in Forest and Stream [UPDATE: Featured in a later post], as well as an 1899 piece in Recreation titled, "When the Scoters Fly."
Credited to "Waldo" it is embedded below.

Despite his upbringing in Cape Cod, Burgess rarely explored the seashore habitat in his Bedtime Stories. Here it is on display. The seaduck--the scoter--rising and falling on the waves, and finally shot down by hunters when it flies. You can also glimpse a kind of ambivalence (not condemnation) of hunting here. Note, his poem was deemed good enough for an illustration, though you'll need to look sideways to see it below, and I'm not sure these are great representations of the real bird (black scoter, probably).

Tomorrow: Burgess the ad man.

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