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Tag: Poetry

Naming Oregon

north-america-ga2b38139d_640
Image by Hans Braxmeier from Pixabay

So out of the same ground the man was made from, the Eternal God sculpted every sort of animal and every kind of bird that flies up in the sky. Then He brought them to the man and gave him the authority to name each creature as he saw fit: whatever he decided to call it, that became its name.
Genesis 2:19 THE VOICE


Visions of swash-buckling explorers, storm-tossed sea navigators, and hard-tack pioneers are among the theories behind the naming of the state of Oregon.

Romance aside, many theories arise, but there is no one definite answer. With its diversified geography, it would be apropos that there would not be any one answer.

Some theories are much more convincing than others. That Oregon was named after the culinary herb oregano stretches the imagination.

Several theories put a European influence on her naming. A Portuguese navigator who heard the poetry of the waters of the Columbia River. A kingdom of Spanish Catalonia. The French word for hurricane Ouragan.

Theories made in America also abound. One includes an 18th-century error made by a mapmaker regarding the Wisconsin River. Or another from history: the Shoshone word that means River of the West.

One poetic theory encompasses the poem “Thanatopsis”, written by William Cullen Bryant. Published in 1817, the poem refers to Oregon as a river: “Where rolls the Oregon, and hears no sound.” Jonathan Carver, who wrote the book Travels Through the Interior Parts of North America, used the name Oregon in his book to refer to the Great River of the West. From this passage, Bryant wrote this idea for his poem.

Oregon also has a plethora of nicknames. Oregon became a state in 1859. Oregon then became the westernmost state of the United States and earned the nickname The Sunset State.

Other nicknames refer to her natural history: Hard-case refers to the hard life of the pioneers moving westward in their covered wagons. Webfoot refers to the rain total amounts west of the Cascades. The most well-known now, The Beaver State, is pictured on the backside of the state flag.

No matter the origin of the name, it was named, plausibly a conglomeration of the different and abundant theories.

God giving Adam the authority to name the creatures in the garden speaks more of just naming the birds and animals. He gave him authority to name, to create, and to rule over his surroundings with humility and wisdom.

We have a chance to speak life into our state – to name it Oregon again, a state of trailblazers, pioneers, and rebuilders.

The Burns of Oregon

Oregon River
Photo by Brian Hackworth from Pexels

All streams run to the sea,
but the sea is not full;
to the place where the streams flow,
there they flow again.
Ecclesiastes 1:7 ESV


Benjamin and Nancy Simpson added to their family a son, Samuel, born on November 10, 1845, in Missouri. While still an infant, they moved to Oregon. Benjamin was a builder of roads and a politician of Oregon, shaping the state of Oregon. He also, by moving, made a lasting impact on Samuel, who grew to love the beautiful geography of the state.

Samuel primarily wrote poems but also wrote stories rich with character descriptions based on officers and Native Americans at Fort Yamhill. He published stories and poems in magazines and newspapers.

The poem he is known for, “Beautiful Willamette”, is a tribute to the beauty of the Willamette Valley. You can envision it just by listening to the first stanza.

From the Cascades’ frozen gorges,
Leaping like a child at play,
Winding, widening through the valley,
Bright Willamette glides away;
Onward ever,
Lovely river,
Softly calling to the sea,
Time, that scars us,
Maims and mars us,
Leaves no track or trench of thee.

He left a poetic void in Oregon after his death. Harvey Scott, an editor of The Oregonian, said his death “leaves Oregon with no poet of merit or reputation.”

Posthumously published in 1910, The Gold-Gated West contained a collection of his poems and songs.

The people and geography inspired his prolific writing. All writing has a setting, whether stated overtly or not. Oregon inspired him to write and his writing well never ran dry, it constantly replenished.

The Holy Spirit will replenish our sea of ideas if we call on Him.