Another Poem

Murphy HenryHere’s another banjo poem, this one written by Edward Morris who now writes for He says it was written “some time ago under the spell of Pete Seeger.” Thank you much, Ed, (as we say in the Shenandoah Valley) for letting us post it.


The banjo is a rube,
long-necking into town,
slick-headed and
defensively keyed-up
to glib impertinence.

It is the village infidel,
wise-cracking the bowed heads,
plucking from crinkled knees
to tapping toes,
the Sabbath zombies into sin.

It is a guerilla
starved down
to the desperate energy
of stretched nerves,
sniping at fat pianos in full dress.

It is a pensioner,
retired to dusty corners,
pin-striped and stiff,
humming at night
an agile frolic.

Edward Morris

I must tell you that I got acquainted with Ed last year via email when he posted an article about Rhonda Vincent (January 22, 2008) for the Blog. Titled “Deep in the Bosom of Bluegrass,” the article quoted something I’d said about Rhonda when I was on a panel about Women in Bluegrass way back in 2003. Ed and I exchanged emails about his quote, that event, and his prodigious memory and from then on have been, ahem, bosom buddies! Ed is a wonderful writer, so check out the article. It’s still online!

NOTE: In case you read the article: No matter what I said back then (and I think I was just popping off without thinking, trying to be funny) I totally support Rhonda Vincent’s attire and her music!

One thought on “Another Poem

  1. Jim

    Banjo players certainly have a reputation to live up to. Here is what a banjo teacher at our local folklore center has to say about banjo players and banjo playing:

    “In both its traditional and contemporary setting, the banjo is used first as a means of avoiding productive work and only secondly as a way of making music, which may account for the origin of many bad banjo jokes. Whether on an Applachian farm or in an urban apartment, the banjo has always been played by working people striving to avoid or delay adult responsibilities. These are important life skills, and the younger one begins playing the banjo the better they will learn them.” Roy Laird.

Comments are closed.