Paul Bunyan

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An exercise in reading connected phrases based on the Wikipedia article:

Paul Bunyan is a mythological lumberjack
who appears in tall tales of American folklore.
He is usually believed to be a giant
as well as a lumberjack of unusual skill.
The character was first documented
in the work of American journalist
James MacGillivray.
Historically, the character has been popular
in oral histories
of the 19th-century northern logging region
of the United States, around Michigan, Wisconsin and Minnesota.

Bunyan’s birth was strange,
as are the births of many mythic heroes,
as it took three storks to carry the infant
(ordinarily, one stork could carry several babies
and drop them off at their parents’ homes).
When he was old enough to clap and laugh,
the vibration broke every window in the house.
When he was seven months old,
he sawed the legs off his parent’s bed
in the middle of the night.
Paul and Babe the Blue Ox, his companion,
dug the Grand Canyon
when he dragged his axe behind him.
He created Mount Hood
by piling rocks on top of his campfire
to put it out.

He is a classic American “big man”
who was popular in the 19th century United States.
The Bunyan myths sprang from lumber camp tales,
sometimes bawdy ones.
In one such tale,
extreme cold forced bears to look for food;
one wandered into a lumber camp.
It chased the lumberjacks up a tree
on which they had a ladder.
To keep the bear from climbing after them
(despite the fact that
bears do not need ladders to climb trees),
the men kicked down the ladder.
This saved them from the bear,
but trapped them in the tree.
To escape, the lumberjacks urinated in unison
and created a frozen pole,
which they slid down.
Such tall tales,
though later watered down,
were attributed to a single character,
and became the stories known today.


2 Responses

  1. I’d love to see some of those. Kids love tall tales, don’t they? I sure did… We’ve having fun with a book by Stan Newton called “Paul Bunyan of the Great Lakes” – all written as tales related to the writer by people who “knew Paul Bunyan intimately”.

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