POETRY FRIDAY: The Hoosier [Hew Anslie]


Happy Friday guys! This week’s poem is about finding value in inexpensive things – feeling like a prince when you’re living on pauper wages. I’m absolutely skint at the moment, and can definitely relate! And I’d put all the money I don’t have on a bet that there are lots of you in the same boat.

Hew Anslie was Scottish, which is why the title had me a little confused at first – ‘Hoosier’ is usually a term associated with residents of Indiana. Turns out he left his desk job in Edinburgh to move there, and became a poem and song writing brewer. I can picture the Coen brothers working wonders with that. And maybe, at the end of this working week, it’ll be food for thought for a disenchanted pencil pusher somewhere…


The Hoosier

We lads that live up in the nobs,
Tho’ our manners might yet bear a rubbing,
We’re handy at neat little jobs
Such as chopping and hewing and grubbing.
Tho’ we roost in a cabin of logs,
And clapboards lie ‘twixt us and heaven,
Our mast makes us fine oily hogs,
And from hoop-poles we pick a good living.
Right quiet — to a decent degree —
it’s seldom we guzzle it deep, Sir,
Tho’ we don’t mind a bit of a spree,
Provided the liquor is cheap, Sir.
Our neighbours, that live ‘cross the drink.
May laugh at our fondness for cider,
But so long as we pocket their clink
They may laugh till their mouths they grow wider.
Our gals make our trousers, you see,
From that beautiful stuff called tow linen,
and in coats of the linsey — dang me,
If we don’t look both handsome and winning.
Our wives are our weavers, to boot;
Ourselves are first rate on a shoe, Sir;
We can doctor a tub with a hoop —
And hark ! we’re our own niggers too, Sir,
So here’s to our Hoosier land,
The sons of its soil and its waters !
May the “nullies” ne’er get it in hand,
Nor demagogues tear it in tatters.
But still may it flourish and push,
Thro’ vetos and all such tough cases,
Till railroads are common as brush,
And the nobs are as sleek as your faces.

More Hew Anslie: http://www.poemhunter.com/hew-ainslie/

More Hew Anslie facts that probably only I care about:

  1. When he first moved to America, he joined the socialist co-op community of Robert Owen – the very same Robert Owen who echoes in the protagonist of ‘The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists’ which we looked at a couple of posts ago.
  2. While he was still living in Edinburgh, Anslie worked as an amanuensis (incredibly fancy word for scribe) under Dugald Stewart, who has a building at Edinburgh University named after him. Coincidentally, that building is where the Linguistics department was housed, and in it I spent many a frantic moment looking for a working stapler as the few remaining seconds before a deadline ticked by.


Artwork credit: Norman Rockwell ‘Hobo and Dog



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