The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 42, July 1938 - April, 1939 Page: 164
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Southwestern Historical Quarterly
the Texas scene and his cultural backgrounds. And we have
the paradox of a man so much a part of the frontier that
he took his afternoon nap, stretched at full length on the
bare boards of his front porch, his crushed hat his only
pillow,-who yet wrote songs so courtly in manner that they
must have appeared, even to him, incongruous, in their Texas
surroundings. A dash of Southern Puritan-strong enough
to insure that his very virtues should sometimes offend-
added yet stranger flavor to this mixture of cavalier and
No poet has yet interpreted the realities of Texas-as young
Tom Benton of Missouri has in his murals of the State Capitol
painted Jesse James, Mark Twain on a steamboat, Frankie and
Johnnie of the "Saint Louis blues," Joe Bowers, and a Missouri
mountain man trading a jug of whiskey to some Indians for a
bale of pelts. On the walls of the capitol at Austin we have only
the faces of generations of legislators and governors. After spend-
ing hundreds of thousands of centennial dollars memorializing the
history of Texas over the land, we have Coppini-like statues
sticking up to commemorate politicians and soldiers, and we have
the highways sprinkled with dreary and colorless plaques. Will
poet and artist yet come to give us Jim Bowie and his knife,
Three-legged Willie and his six-shooter "over-riding the law of
the Bowie knife," Pamela Mann cussing Sam Houston out over
her oxen, Brit Bailey ordering his own body buried standing up
and facing west, jovial Bigfoot Wallace stuffing his clothes full
of hickory nuts as an armor against Indian arrows, Sam Bass
riding "the Denton mare," and Jack Potter, the fighting parson,
raising money for the church by allowing a gambler to bet the
little roll already raised on a monte game? Is poetry going to
keep on being nothing but compliments and latter-day analyses?
Is Texas art to be nothing but historic battles and wild flowers?
And if history sticks to official documents, where is life going
to come in? Life, yes life.
Let it be added that Graham's book is beautifully made, and
that it has some life in it.
J. FRANK DOBIE.
The University of Texas.
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 42, July 1938 - April, 1939, periodical, 1939; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101107/m1/178/: accessed October 22, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.