Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Poem by John Fitch, Inventor of Steamboat

A little intro. This poem is about an incident that Fitch encountered on his journey from his home in Connecticut to New Jersey. He was making this journey so that he could leave his wife before they had any more children. He considered her a scold.

Sir now I will a story tell which does upon me center.
Near Woodbridge town there I did meet a true but strange adventure.
It was a hot long melting day and I grew almost weary.
To a small house I did repair thinking a while to tarry.
I knocked and entered in the door without eithers permission
And when one minutes space I found I spoke without commission
Said I good woman tell me why that you live so uneasy
Come try some other plan to live and see if that wont pleaseye.
No faith said she no other plan shall ere come in my notion
For since he has a villen grown this shall be his portion.
Well then said I now for your peace let both consent for parting
That the remainder of your days be not so full of smarting.
They both consented to the thing but she was for full hire
One half of all she did demand before she would retire.
Then my judgment soon was made it was without permission
That the whole I’d rather give than live in that condition.
Then quick here eyes like lightning streams began to be aflying
I was apprised of the same methought I was adying
Then a quick a brand out of the fire toward me was coming
And with my pack I made a shield and hindered it from homeing
Then soon I made unto the door sure I was not delaying
And the fume which was behind me was not the least for staying
And when I made into the street she followed me close after.
Had any one but seen the sight I’m sure he would[‘ve] made laughter
The brand soon coming bout my ears and I for it was dodging
Which made me fly to quit the place and seek for better lodging.
If you think my courage was not good permit me Sir the favour
To tell you true and honestly I’d rather run and leave her
If you will send a hero brave that will make her for yielding
One guiney I will freely give and pay the cost of healing.
But the last which I have said I think is something joeking
For womankind cant be subdued without a little choaking.[i]
[i]Ibid, 49-50.

17 Comments:

Blogger swiffer_mop1234 said...

I'm a little surprised that there are no comments yet, considering the last line saying that women need to be choked. I really don't know why he so frustrated with this woman, I mean didn't he come into her home uninvited. Anyway, his view of women seems to be very negative. I guess you might be able to compare him to Locke in that he seems to regard women as not being an individual, since they need to be choked. But maybe I am interpreting the story wrong, which would not surprise me.

2:44 PM  
Blogger AubergineClementine said...

I think this is HI-larious. First of all, I liked most of Fitch's other poems despite their somewhat dark undertones until I read this one. Because Fitch made a bad decision about marrying the woman he called a scold (which he should've figured out before the fact), and wanted to leave her, presumably, with children, he has this overall bad image of women in general. The woman in the poem didn't do anything anyone normal wouldn't do in the same situation; Fitch's opinion of women was already negative, so he was looking for behavioral confirmation from all other women to reinforce his opinion. He pretty much sounds like a suicidal drunk from other things by him that I've read, and I seriously hope he didn't try to blame that on women.

6:43 PM  
Blogger thisismyname said...

I'm having a hard time understanding what happened in this poem. What I'm getting is that he waltzes into this woman's house without knocking or anything, gets chased down the street by her, and then he says "womankind can't be subdued without a little choking?" Wow... It isn't even his house! If I were that woman, I would have done the same thing. It'd be a different story if it was his house and wife he was talking about, but the whole thing would still be disturbing and funny at the same time. I'm just trying to comprehend how this account and his wife the scold gives him the power to judge all women and conclude that we need to be subdued by being choked!

7:25 PM  
Blogger bob_barker_is_my_hero said...

It sounds to me like Fitch is scared of women. I think its hilarious how he explains his cowardice of running and says that only a brave hero could stand up to her instead of running. It reminds me a lot of men today getting scared when women give “the look”. To me this poem shows me that women have always had “the look”. He mentions “eyes like lightning streams”. Sounds like “the look” to me. It just goes to show you that although women may not have always had equal rights, they have all certainly known how to deal with men. This poem is a riot.

8:54 PM  
Blogger Magic Chicken said...

It's no wonder Fitch wrote “The Song of the Brown Jug.” If I thought entering a random woman's home and pretty much saying that he'd rather die than give anything to a woman (“That the whole I’d rather give than live in that condition.”) was okay only to get kicked out, I'd have a bad outlook on life as well. I suppose it may be that I consider women on an equal footing, but I really don't understand why he was so shaken by this. He entered the house uninvited and gave his opinions without invitation. It's pretty natural that the woman would chase him out of her home. I certainly wouldn't like it if someone barged into my house and suddenly started telling me that I was wrong. Even if it was a woman, this behavior still doesn't make sense because even if the woman didn't own the home by the standards of the time, someone else certainly did! Thus, regardless of whether it were a woman or a man, I still believe Fitch would have been chased out of the home eventually. Pinning this solely on women is hardly a sane opinion... which is why “The Song of the Brown Jug” makes sense coming from Fitch.

10:02 PM  
Blogger Willow said...

I don't think of my self as a feminist...more of an "equalist", but honestly this poem is brilliant to me. I really like this Finch guy. To anyone that knows me...which no one knows my identity...they would probably not think that I liked this poem.

I think that this poem is a great example of the frustration with the opposite sex in an intimate relationship. I think that this poem could just have easily been written about a man. I know in my own life I think that you can't get to a man but to beat them over the head with something (frying pan comes to mind...haha). but really...I could be way off here, but I think the author does an excellent job of using intense imagery to get to the point...and yet he has a light hearted feel about tough subjects. Two thumbs way up!!!

10:02 PM  
Blogger daltonRussell said...

I also think that this poem was very funny; it gave me a good laugh at the end. I think that Fitch is getting out of his relationship with women what he’s putting into them. Because he considered his wife a scold, he met yet another woman with a scolding personality. Coincidence? I think not! I think that he meets scolding women because he brings the fire out inside of them through his actions. That is why this is so funny because it is OBVIOUS that he was in the wrong, and instead of even considering this, he says: “man, women are mean; the only way to subdue them is choking them.” This kind of statement just might make someone choke him!

10:08 PM  
Blogger Larogoth said...

I was left a little confused after reading the preface to the poem which states that he was making this journey in order to leave his wife before they could have any more children. What confuses me is, the woman mentioned in the poem... is she the wife that was mentioned in the preface, or is this some totally random woman whose home Fitch enters?

I thought that this poem was very funny, reading about Fitch's experience getting chased out of this woman's home and how he feels that the only way women can be subdued is through choking them. After reading willow's response I too could imagine this guy being chased after with a frying pan, paving the way for some very humorous thoughts.

11:08 PM  
Blogger FriendofAll said...

I would tend to agree with most people here about the rediculousness of this poem and the hilarity of it. I'm glad to see that the fairer side of the class took this with a pinch of salt and could enjoy it. As far as I could tell, the best part was when he invited someone to find a hero to subdue his wife and volunteered to pay for their injuries. I don't personally think that its a good idea to choke women into submission (seems like they can be meaner than guys when they're mad) but its a mark of how little this guy wanted to try that he ran instead.

6:34 AM  
Blogger Morsmordre said...

I think this is hilarious. It really puts me in mind of Lysistrata (or however you spell it) from the first honors class. Also, I think it shows the connection between Fitch's time and our own. What I mean is, as far as divorce and relationships are concerned, nothing has changed. In the poem, the husband is the one to leave the home, as is common practice during divorces. Additionally, the wife wants part of the money and property entitled to her from the marriage before they part, exactly like modern divorces. I love the connection.

7:54 AM  
Blogger Kayla Meadows said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

1:00 PM  
Blogger Kayla Meadows said...

As a feminist, I suppose I should be horrified that the last line of this poem indicates the potential choking of a woman -but instead, I'm quite amused. We women are intense, confusing, multi-faceted creatures, with layer upon layer upon layer for men to study and attempt to figure out. The frustration the results from that is surely quite strong, and honestly, I find it very interesting that this particular woman was so complicated that the author found himself wanting to choke her in order to figure her out, make her 'behave'. I would like to meet this muse of his, perhaps learn more from her, seeing as she was so much of an individual that it confused him to the breaking point.

What a strong woman, to brave potential rejection and continue her quest for depth. Of course, the author obviously finds depth in a woman ludacris, but why should that stop her? Why should the disapproval of any man, particularly the author, whom is a gifted writer but seems, to me, strangely vacant-minded in his beliefs, stop her from being an incredible human being? A woman's approval certainly doesn't stop a man from doing the same!

Bravo, Muse, bravo. And if he tries to choke you, do remember to call the police.

1:04 PM  
Blogger Eden Van Bibber said...

I find this poem sort of funny, before you jump to conclusions I’m not anti-feminist or pro choking, I can just relate to the authors frustration. Who hasn’t been in a situation where someone annoyed you to the point of contemplating homicide? I also chuckled a little when he said his wife demanded half his stuff and he’d gladly have given it all up just to get away. The overall tone of the poem is very humorous almost satirizing marital disputes rather than actually advocating violence. I got a very clear image of the mans near cartoonish desperation to be away from his wife, it really brought to mind Kermit and Miss Piggy, with Kermit always frantically trying to escape Miss Piggy’s advances. When viewed so lightheartedly it makes it impossible to genuinely be offended by the poems content.

9:35 AM  
Blogger Heather said...

I have to agree with Eden that this a very humorous little poem. Thos poem (minus some of the spelling) could have been written today. It is about a very serious subject matter, but it’s presented in a funny way. People may joke about marriage being the end of one’s life, but this poem obviously shows that some people really feel that way. Fitch, is describing something that more and more of the population is going through. The thing that jumped out to me is the side that he presented. After I read the last line, other things started to pop out at me. Maybe this is a bit of a feminist idea, but he seemed to make fun of the wife. For instance she wouldn’t go until she got her half of everything. Then he went on to say the whole thing about choking a woman to keep her in line. All to often that is how divorce is depicted. The woman is crazy and wants to keep everything and that prolongs the process. Like I said, maybe this is a feminist idea, but it stood out to me. That aside though, it’s a pretty awesome poem.

8:43 PM  
Anonymous Marissa Manns said...

This poem highlights an age old dilemma. The question at hand is the importance of marriage. Moreover why do we feel so compelled to do it? The pressure probably comes from it being a tradition. Hence society puts a big emphasis on it. Marriage is jokingly described by some men as the “big commitment.” It will certainly end life as they know it. Therefore they try to do all of the things they want to do in life beforehand. Sometimes they cannot accomplish this. Therefore they are trapped. How many country music songs were written to describe this subject? This debate is relevant to a discussion we had in our honors class. The Merchant of Venice describes the complex relationship between the characters of Antonio, Bassanio, and Portia. Bassanio has a problem in committing to his wife Portia. The relationship he has with his best friend Antonio is more important to him. Due to this he is not willing to give it up for a less meaningful connection Portia. Perhaps this is the problem with the author of the poem. He wants the life he had before back very badly. He just wants a clean break and he will give anything for it perhaps even resorting to violence.

10:19 AM  
Blogger Edna said...

Although this poem may have offended some, I thoroughly enjoyed reading it. It was funny, relevant in any time period or culture, and something most people can relate to. I agree with Willow in that the poem is vividly portraying the frustration inherent in any intimate relationship. I too am not “antifeminist or pro-choking” as eden put it, but I don’t see what all the fuss is about with the line about choking a woman being the only way to subdue her. As far as I am concerned, this is a compliment to women. I applaud females who cannot be ‘subdued’ by men, either by money or physical force and I find it absolutely hilarious that Fitch was running away from her. You go girl.

On the other hand, I also applaud men who cannot be ‘subdued’ by women. I guess I am much like willow in that I am an ‘equalist.’ I really respect people who make their decisions as individuals and cannot be persuaded to think otherwise. It is rare to find people of this sort in today’s society. Unfortunately, all too often people are way more likely to follow the crowd than ‘only be subdued by choking.’

3:08 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I honestly didn’t quite understand this poem. Did the man want to steal the woman? Or was he just trying to figure out why the man and woman didn’t get along? I also thought it was funny that the woman chased the man away. Why exactly did she do this, I mean was he being offense in his questioning to her?

Unless I left out like a very important line in this which would make sense to me, since this is completely and totally throwing me off track…..

Nope just reread it and still pretty confused…

So did she basically get mad because he was asking her why she continued to put up with this stuff? But since they both are pretty much tired of it, then why would she get offended at that and chase him down the road you know?

Shew, silly people with their silly writings…. I’ll never understand this thing.

8:34 AM  

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