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Alberta Clipper 11/11/14: “Let’s Hear it for Goliath” by Jon Dressel

In America’s more aggressive past, there was a time when we thought it fitting to invade Canada and capture Montreal. During the War of 1812, on a cold and raining November 11, 1813, America suffered for it during the Battle of Crysler’s Field, in which our 8000-some troops were sent reeling by a British and Canadian combined force of just 900.

Written by Jon Dressel, “Let’s Hear It for Goliath” was published in the fall 1973 issue of Prairie Schooner, an abnormally wet season for Nebraska with September receiving more than 7 ½ inches and October nearly 5 inches. The poem takes a contrarian approach to the famous underdog story by offering an ode to the 9-feet tall figure “who never asked/to be born/either.” If we take that sentiment to Crysler, maybe there’s empathy to be had for John Armstrong Jr., the United States Secretary of War who devised the battle’s failed plan—a man who never choose to be born the son of an American general—whose father may have also given “him a sword/to teethe on.” —Nathan Sindelar

Jon Dressel
Let’s Hear it for Goliath

who never asked
to be born
either, let alone
grow nine feet

tall and wind
up a metaphor;
fat chance he
had of avoid-

in the shove
from behind;
his old man
no doubt gave

him a sword
to teethe on,
and a scout
for the Philistine

host probably
had him under
contract by
the end of

junior high;
it was a fix;
and who wouldn’t
have cursed

at the sight
of that arr-
ogant runt with
the sling, who,

for all his
psalms, would later
buy one wife
with a hundred

bloody pecker-
skins, and another
with a King’s X
on Uriah; bah,

let’s hear it
for Goliath, a big
boy who got
bad press but

who did his job,
absorbed a flukey
shot, and died
with a thud.

Prairie Schooner, Vol. 47, No. 3 (Fall 1973)


The Alberta Clipper is a biweekly gust of history—brushing the dust off of a poem from our archives and situating it in the current events and local Nebraskan weather reports of days gone by. Explore the Alberta Clipper archives here.

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