Shade Of Smart

Could it be that the shade of Christopher Smart is haunting the corridors of a large and important municipal building in far away Oregon? This unlikely question is prompted by a discovery made by Brit over at Think Of England. In the course of his valuable research into the Official State Crustaceans of the USA, Brit unearthed House Joint Resolution 37 from the Oregon Legislative Assembly, adopted in 2009.

There is nobody called Smart among the Representatives and Senators who passed the Resolution, but it is clear to me that the mad poet’s spirit hovered over whomsoever drafted it. Granted, it uses “Whereas” rather than Christopher Smart’s favoured “Let”s and “For”s in Jubilate Agno, but otherwise this could be a lost fragment of that great poem:

Whereas the Dungeness crab fishery is the most valuable single-species fishery in Oregon, making Dungeness crab an important part of Oregon’s economy; and

Whereas the Dungeness crab is an iconic Oregon symbol; and

Whereas the Dungeness crab is the most delicious of the crab species; and

Whereas the Dungeness crab annual harvest begins each year on December 1, when Dungeness crabs are hard-shelled, full of meat and in their prime; and

Whereas the Dungeness crab harvest ends on August 14 to minimize handling, so that post-molt, soft-shelled crabs can fill out undisturbed; and

Whereas this management method has served the resource well for decades and ensures that the Dungeness crab fishery is truly sustainable; now, therefore,

Be It Resolved by the Legislative Assembly of the State of Oregon:

That the Dungeness crab is the official crustacean of the State of Oregon.

4 thoughts on “Shade Of Smart

  1. Always good to see life wisely imitating Hooting Yard, especially when it does so locally. I cannot speak to the Dungeness crab, but this example of the Smartian style by a governing body is in fact quite timely. There has been much brouhaha in the States regarding the Filibuster, a manœuvre by which legislation may be blocked in the Senate by (in theory) a speaker who occupies the floor. Historical filibusters utilized the phone book, but surely Jubilate Agno is the ideal text for this purpose. Imagine it grunted perpetually by elder statesmen, as a round perhaps!

  2. Did you know that the British Dungeness crab, that lives around the outlets of Dungeness ‘B’, is 27 feet across, has 12 eyes and glows in the dark ..?


  3. Reading the Resolution/poem again, I discern that the weight, careful construction and force of its argument suggests that the Dungeness crab must have had a rival for the role of State Crustacean.

    Alternatively, it might simply be that the Oregon Legislative Assembly views the position of Official Crustacean as one of great gravity and seriousness, not to be dished out willy-nilly, and after much careful deliberation has decided that the Dungeness crab, having served well ‘for decades’, has finally proven itself worthy.

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