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March 6, 2003

Like McGonagall, only without the rhymes
Posted by Teresa at 01:12 PM *

AgriBiz Poetry, Consumer Specialty Produce Marketer, offers a unique service: the composition of what the site calls “relevant poetic materials about the products.” I think this is a case of selling what you already do, because the proprietor, Joseph J. Charles, has an evident passion for his subject. Consider his eponymous poem about the Flame Seedless Grape:

Flame Seedless Grape Oh, such Summer delights we often take for granted!
Only in the Central San Joaquin Valley & Napa Valley, CA
Can one find such a bounty of fruits!
Or is it time to show gratitude
The hands that till the soil and prune the vines
To the man who developed this crisp, red grape
From all the corners of the USA and the world
We, table grape lovers, pay tribute
To late John Weinberger, a U.S. agriculture Department plant Scientist
When we bite into a peach, plum, nectarine, apricots
And grapes, we are the beneficiaries
Of his many hours of research and dedication
For he bred and released 37 varieties of them
No other sentiments are greater than aiming at a bowl
Of the Flame on the table near the swimming pool
The taste of the chlorinated water is soon washed away
Fresh and bright, these berries pop up and dilute in your mouth
Great for snack, they find their way in fruit salads
Oh Flame Seedless Grape, may you continue
To fight for your place in the heart of table grape lovers
May grape growers become wise enough to continue
Planting and nurturing its vines
In my own heart, Thompson Seedless may have to
Watch out because Flame may supplant its position some day

The odd thing is that with his enthusiasm, his cataloguing impulse, and his desire to include as much useful information as possible, J. J. Charles manages to strike once-popular poetic notes not often heard this side of the Eighteenth Century, unless you count later anomalies like James McIntyre’s cheese poems and the works of McGonagall.
Comments on Like McGonagall, only without the rhymes:
#1 ::: Jane Yolen ::: (view all by) ::: March 06, 2003, 04:54 PM:

Ah--I see I missed my real calling. A few years ago I used to sell--for a dollar a poem--verse created on the occasion for a loved one at the Hatfield (MA) Christmas Fair. All monies went to the scholarship fund. I was quite good at such instant poetry (with rhymes, too, eat your heart out McGonagall, I spit on your 'silvery Tay.")

However, at least Joseph Charles has a lot of material to work with.Masses of research. All I could get out of our local citizenry about their loved ones were a few paltry facts pulled out with as much pain as a tooth extraction. "She, um... likes to dance." Ballroom? Tap? Step? Ballroom? Ballet? Shag? Turkey Trot? Flamenco? Belly? Broom? I sure earned that dollar.

Jane

#2 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: March 07, 2003, 03:08 AM:

The grape known as Thompson Seedless,
By Robert Mondavi he swore,
That the upstart group of the base-born drupe
Called the Flame should grow no more . . .

Uh, where were we?

#3 ::: Scott ::: (view all by) ::: March 07, 2003, 04:12 AM:

Is it not the grape that's eponymous rather than the poem? Or have I got it backward again?

#4 ::: Jeremy Osner ::: (view all by) ::: March 07, 2003, 10:16 PM:

Dear Mr. Ford,
Thanks for the purest moments of amusement I've felt in several days.
Regards,
Jeremy (a onetime resident of the central valley, in whose parents' backyard grow 2 vines of the nefarious Thompson)

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