While across the great plains,
keening lovely & awful,
ululate the lost Great American Novels
Joanna Newsom, “Inflammatory Writ” (The Milk-Eyed Mender, 2004)
A person stands on a golden grassy plain with her back to the viewer, looking out at birds flying in a V shape. She rests her hands on a tall yellow stick with short red offshoots on the right side of the card. In her left hand she holds a piece of paper with writing on it. She wears a small round red hat with a teal brim, a yellow shirt with long and hanging sleeves in red, orange, and green, wide-legged red pants with teal cuffs, and high-heeled red boots. The back of her shirt has embroidered decorations: a pen next to a flame, a sun, a crescent moon, a flying bird, and four-leafed clover. Her long sleeve is lined with green fabric with a pattern of suns. The cuffs of her pants have patches with pictures of animals: a small bird, a tadpole, an owl, a horse, a fish, a boar, and a long-necked bird.
This Page is an aspiring writer, or any sort of messenger. Like the narrator of the song, she is in a mild crisis: comparing her laborious attempts to the effortlessness of the flying geese, and probably contemplating burning her tract. Her baton is a large staff, a source of support.
The admirable qualities of the Page of Batons are diligence, respect for the natural world, and willingness to learn. Her unfavorable qualities are intellectual posturing and chronic hopelessness.