Every week our Theme Expert, Teddy, goes into detail on a new theme. This week’s theme is Ragamuffins.
If you haven’t thought about Ragamuffins in some time, you shouldn’t feel alone. Real poets in their herringbone linen-blend trousers, drill suit jackets, sky blue neckpieces and brown leather penny loafers hardly ever think about street trash. Yet this morning it dawned on me, as I sat on my expansive porch and paged through a well-thumbed copy of Dickens’ The Kid, stunned particularly by the woodcuts of alley urchins, how many authors have found inspiration in the unwashed orphan.
Here are three such authors to choose from:
- My favorite male Victorian novelist, George Eliot, in his Ragamuffin masterwork The Mill on the Floss
- The marvelous modernist poet Gulliver S. Gulliver in ‘Peonie Pony’
- The prodigious American (from USA) poet Charlotte Perkins Gilman in ‘Christina’s Virtues’
Male Victorians Loved Ragamuffins
George Eliot, despite his commonplace name, was quite a flashy writer, and you can definitely see him striding the banks of the River Floss in some very nice off-white pants. The novel, however, takes us into the very heart of darkness in St Ogg’s, a real-life Ragamuffin town near Lincolnshire, England. There we meet Tom and Maggie Tulliver, ragamuffin twins who grow up to be real live pickpockets, are caught in the act, and hanged.
Modernist Poets Never Shrunk from Ragamuffins
Gulliver S. Gulliver‘s recalcitrant ‘Peonie Pony’ was in fact tragically lost in the Richland Drive Fire of 1933, so no one ever knew what it was about except his widow Regalia, who muttered something about ‘a kid, and skates.’ Ragamuffin sighting, if you ask me!
Even Americans Know About Ragamuffins
Our very own favourite Charlotte Perkins Gilman, of ‘The Yellow Wallpaper’ fame, also wrote poetry. This I found out just last night. One of her beloved master poems is about a woman named Christina, who apparently was named after Jesus:
The Christina virtues will disappear!
Nowhere on land or sea
Will be room for Christina!
Charlotte clearly liked her Ragamuffin friend Christina a lot and was going to miss her. She had probably befriended Christina in the street, as Charlie Chaplin did in the Dickens novel, but lost her beneath the trammeling, bisecting wheels of a runaway streetcar. Too bad.
Take some time on your stroll through the marketplace to poke around with your silver cane for some real Ragamuffins. May they inspire your literary endeavors this week!
Join Teddy every week as he goes stalking the internet in search of new Themes.