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The “Rubaiyat’s” Contribution to Golf Poetry

To write a parody of a poem, you would take the basic characteristics of the verse (for example, its rhyming scheme and basic idea) and then rework them for comic or ironic effect.

Now suppose that you are a young golfer and poet around the turn of the 20th century. Being literate, you are aware that Omar Khayyam’s poem, Rubaiyat, is being parodied left and right. So one day, after being around the golf course until early evening, you pick up a copy of the poem (it was easy to do then). Reading through the verses, you are struck by the stanza 27,

Myself when young did eagerly frequent
Doctor and Saint, and heard great Argument
.     About it and about;  but evermore
Came out by the same Door where in I went.

If your name was Henry Boynton, a graduate of Amherst with a Masters of Arts, then, looking at the stanza you might have thought about all the controversies regarding the fundamental of golf being discussed by golfers such as Jamie Anderson and Jamie Braid and all the other Jamies of the time. And this might have led you to write (as part of a book, The Golfer’s Rubaiyat),

Myself when young did eagerly frequent
Jamie and His, and heard great argument
.     Of Grip and Stance and Swing; but evermore
Found at the Exit but a Dollar spent.

Little did Boynton know, but he himself would be parodied by later golfing poets.

In the July 1910 issue of  The American Golfer, a poet named Jack Warbasse wrote,

Myself when young did eagerly frequent
Travis and Braid, and read great argument
.     About the Grip and Stance; but evermore
Play’d out by the same Stump where in I went.

And then in 1919, a Scottish writer, poet and drama critic Robert K. Risk published a book of collected poems, Songs of the Links, that included the poem “The Golfaiyat of Dufar Hy-Yam.” In that poem we have,

Myself when you did eagerly frequent,
Club-makers’ Shops, and heard great Argument
.     Of Grip and Stance and Swing; but evermore
Learned and Bought little I did not repent.

Finally, in 1946, J. A. Hammerton, a Scottish statesman and author, published a book, The Rubiayat of a Golfer, in which he wrote,

Myself when young would hopefully frequent
Where Pros and Plus Men had great argument
.     On Grips that overlapped, on Swing and Stance
But came away less hopeful than I went.

So what have we learned? First, that there are limits to the golfing parodies of stanza 27 of the Rubaiyat. And second, Instruction about grip, stance and swing has been confusing for a long time!

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  1. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Leon White, Leonard Vidal. Leonard Vidal said: The “Rubaiyat's” Contribution to Golf Poetry « Golf Course of Rhymes: tags: golf, golf history, golf humor, golf i… http://bit.ly/7X7eBJ [...]

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