21 April 2010

Uncollected Mcintyre: The Hog Poet

James McIntyre published a good number of poems in the Globe, most of which have never been republished. The most interesting, "The Evolution of the Hog", published 7 August 1894, was part of a letter in which the poet writes of his maturation of thought concerning the merry, playful, doomed "sweet and tender swine".

To the Editor of the Globe:
Sir,—In a poem published long ago I predicted the fall of wheat and the rise of the cow and the hog, but I, at the first, felt sad to see my prediction verified; but I am now fully reconciled, seeing the pretty, happy little pigs enjoying themselves along the roads in company with their mother sow and bringing a ten dollar bill each to their owner when they are six months old. It is a common thing to sell 50 of them in one year from a 100 acre farm, realizing $500 from this one source. Many of the improved breeds are like Jacob's sheep, ringstraked, speckled and grisled. The cheese and the pork are the concentrated essence of the farm, and the cows and hogs enrich the land. Sending bulky stuff like hay across the sea impoverishes the soil and brings but small returns in money. Feeding wheat to hogs, the best returns are obtained by chopping it and soaking it in whey or slops.

The Evolution of the Hog.

In these days of evolution
There's a wondrous revolution;
The hog is coming to the front,
And he can now contented grunt.

For every day he gets to eat
The very choicest kinds of wheat;
No more it pays wheat for to sell,
Only 50 cents a bushel.

Farmers find that the best combine
Is to raise good cows and fatten swine.
For on this point each one agrees,
There's nothing pays more like pork and cheese.

Hundreds of pigs you now behold
Where none were seen in days of old,
And little hogs now roam all over,
Happy, rooting 'mong the clover.

And merrily they do dance jigs,
So playful are these little pigs;
And dairymen it well doth pay
To fatten them upon the whey.

For the people love to dine
On young, sweet and tender swine;
For the hog doth lead the van
As the favourite food of man.

Some say land's going to the dogs,
But it's going into cows and hogs,
And there is no cause to mourn,
For they give good and quick return.

Small pigs, more playful than young lambs,
Soon they do make the sweetest hams;
When they are a few months older,
Delicious is their shoulder.

So, 'tis no wonder that the hog,
He is coming into vogue,
For he doth cheerful pay his way
And is entitled to his whey.

Ingersoll, August 4.


  1. Hmmm...sounds like one of mine.

    And who can resist any poem that uses words like "grunt" and "cheese"

    JAW fan

  2. I'd say McIntyre's influence is quite evident in contemporary Canadian verse.

    Such a mind, who else would think to rhyme "hog" with "vogue"?