Wednesday, October 22, 2003
MarkBernstein.org
 
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Faerie

In 1896, William Jennings Bryan led the first Populist crusade, a campaign of farmers and workers against Wall Street, the gold standard and the Establishment. He lost, but the memory of that crusade fueled the Progressive Era, much as the memory of working for McCarthy or for Bobby, or walking with Martin, colors our own. Vachel Lindsay remembered the joy of that crusade in the middle of a long poem, written long after the returns came in:

She wore in her hair a brave prairie rose.
Her gold chums cut her, for that was not the pose.
No Gibson Girl would wear it in that fresh way.
But we were fairy Democrats, and this was our day.

Question: The last line is, I think, an allusion to something else. I can't place it. I can't figure our a Google strategy to uncover it. Coleridge? Swinburne? Let me know.

Question: Trying to Google this, I noticed that Time apparently misquoted the last line in a 1996 article by David Mamet, from whom I found it in the first place (in his 1986 Writing in Restaurants), emending it of "Prairie Democrats." Does anybody know the story behind this? Time, under Luce, was notorious, but 1996 was only yesterday.