Yelyzaveta Tashkevych

10.20.09

2nd period

Monday Write: Final Draft: The Perils of Writing Poems on Cheese

James McIntyre is widely regarded as a disgrace to poets everywhere. Most think of his prose as meaningless- the work of an idle mind not graced with poetic genius. Skimming McIntyre's works, it is easy to adopt this mindset. After all, take a look at the first lines from his poem entitled "Ode on the Mammoth Cheese":

We have seen thee, queen of cheese,

Laying quietly at your ease.

Gently fanned by evening breeze,

Thy fair form no flies dare seize.

At first glance, McIntyre's work may, indeed, seem like a meaningless rant on a supremely eclectic topic. Look closely, though, and there might appear a 'method to the madness'- a subliminal message that the author may be trying to send. Perhaps the phrase 'queen of cheese' was used in substitution of a political figure of the female persuasion, and McIntyre was simply too afraid of social destitution to address his feelings in any way other than satire, using cheese as a front to boycott the political figures or policy of a certain region. Inconsequently, how writing such prose would have gained McIntyre higher status amongst his peers seems impossible to comprehend.

There are numerous other possible meanings behind this poem. The most obvious is that McIntyre meant, literally, a queen, such as the Queen of England that ruled at that time. Perhaps he was angry at her because he perceived her to be lazy and good-for-nothing under the exterior of beauty and majesty. Similarly, James McIntyre could have been 'poking fun' at any other queen of that time.

One of the less, perhaps, reasonable (but no less sane than any of the above) arguments is that James McIntyre used the phrase 'queen of cheese' to represent any male leader that may have looked meek or feminine to him. Subsequently, he might also have been referring to a law presiding over the field of cheese-making that, for fear of judicial reprimands, and due to the complexity of it, no one dares try to break.

James McIntyre could certainly have meant the poem "Ode on the Mammoth Cheese" literally; the subject of the prose could, indeed, have been a giant block (or round) of cheese- a head figure, or 'queen', in its own right. However, with such a, quite frankly, maniacal poem, one cannot help but wonder whether it is truly devoid of underlying meaning. If it were, that would be nearly as preposterous as to suggest flinging an astronaut into the air with a catapult and hoping that he lands on Mars. The idea of McIntyre believing that people would see the value in poems about cheese does, one would think, seem a tad strange. Then again, so are McIntyre's poems.

I am of a divided mind; on one hand, James McIntyre could have meant his poems literally. Of that there is no doubt. However, the idea of a hidden message in a poem is so stereotypically intriguing, and, in fact, much less preposterous that one cannot help but to, at least briefly, entertain it. Either way, McIntyre's poems are sure to entertain generations of both children and adults, if not forever, then certainly for a long time. The prose is here to stay; for us to analize, decipher, and enjoy to our hearts' content, whatever McIntyre may have meant.