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a mite whimsical in the brainpan ([info]tigerkat24) wrote,
@ 2009-04-20 18:14:00

Previous Entry  Add to memories!  Tell a Friend!  Next Entry
Current music:Something Borrowed, Something Blue--Ben Lee
Entry tags:poetry

I owe you eight poems, due to epic fail on my part. I'm too tired to seek out new poets, so instead I'm just going to spam you with some of my favorites. Here you go.

For Cathy, On Taking the Oath
Ellis Graveworthy*

J'affirme solennellement
que je serai fidèle et porterai sincère allégeance
à Sa Majesté la Reine Elizabeth Deux,
Reine du Canada, à ses héritiers et successeurs,
que j'observerai fidèlement les lois du Canada
et que je remplirai loyalement
mes obligations de citoyen canadien.

See there, the book, the oath, the flag, the clerk,
"Now raise your hand, repeating after me.
Say your name here, please -- hand upon the book,
Allegiance to Her Majesty the Queen."
But these are only words, not real at that,
We must have words where no real words may sound.
You do a true and fearsome thing today,
Go outside and stand barefoot on the ground.
This ground is yours now. This air is your air,
And you have solemn duties to uphold
To guard the land and people that you chose;
Choose leaders, choose your laws. Be wise and bold.
Your children breathe your life, and to them too
You bear the duties that the land contends --
To raise them that they understand the gift
You give this day. Good luck, new citizens.
But all of this you knew, I think, and more;
You chose this place. Now, welcome to its shores.

Puck's Epilogue, by William Shakespeare

If we shadows have offended,
Think but this, and all is mended,
That you have but slumber’d here
While these visions did appear.
And this weak and idle theme,
No more yielding but a dream,
Gentles, do not reprehend:
if you pardon, we will mend:
And, as I am an honest Puck,
If we have unearned luck
Now to ’scape the serpent’s tongue,
We will make amends ere long;
Else the Puck a liar call;
So, good night unto you all.
Give me your hands, if we be friends,
And Robin shall restore amends.

Boy Shooting at a Statue, by Billy Collins

It was late afternoon,
the beginning of winter, a light snow,
and I was the only one in the small park

to witness the lone boy running
in circles around the base of a bronze statue.
I could not read the carved name

of the statesman who loomed above
with one hand on his cold hip,
but as the boy ran, head down,

he would point a finger at the statue
and pull an imaginary trigger
imitating the sounds of rapid gunfire.

Evening thickened, the mercury sank,
but the boy kept running in the circle
of his footprints in the snow

shooting blindly into the air.
History will never find a way to end,
I thought, as I left the park by the north gate

and walked slowly home
returning to the station of my desk
where the sheets of paper I wrote on

were like pieces of glass
through which I could see
hundreds of dark birds circling in the sky below.

The Introduction, by Billy Collins

I don’t think this next poem
needs any introduction—
it’s best to let the work speak for itself.

Maybe I should just mention
that whenever I use the word five,
I’m referring to that group of Russian composers
who came to be known as “The Five,”

Balakirev, Moussorgsky, Borodin—that crowd.

Oh—and Hypsicles was a Greek astronomer.
He did something with the circle.

That’s about it, but for the record,
“Grimké” is Angelina Emily Grimké, the abolitionist.
“Imroz” is that little island near the Dardanelles.
“Monad”—well, you all know what a monad is.

There could be a little problem
with mastaba, which is one of those Egyptian
above-ground sepulchers, sort of brick and limestone.

And you’re all familiar with helminthology?
It’s the science of worms.

Oh, and you will recall that Phoebe Mozee
is the real name of Annie Oakley.

Other than that, everything should be obvious.
Wagga Wagga is in New South Wales.
Rhyolite is that soft volcanic rock.
What else?
Yes, meranti is a type of timber, in tropical Asia I think,
and Rahway is just Rahway, New Jersey.

The rest of the poem should be clear.
I’ll just read it and let it speak for itself.

It’s about the time I went picking wild strawberries.

It’s called “Picking Wild Strawberries.”

See No Evil, by Billy Collins
(I really like Billy Collins, can you tell?)

No one expected all three of them
to sit there on their tree stumps forever,
their senses covered with their sinuous paws
so as to shut out the vile, nefarious world.

As it happened,
it was the one on the left
who was the first to desert his post,
uncupping his ears,
then loping off into the orbit of rumors and lies,
but also into the realm of symphonies,
the sound of water tumbling over rocks
and wind stirring the leafy domes of trees.

Then the monkey on the right lowered his hands
from his wide mouth and slipped away
in search of someone to talk to,
some news he could spread,
maybe something to curse or shout about.

And that left the monkey in the middle
alone with his silent vigil,
shielding his eyes from depravity's spectacle,
blind to the man whipping his horse,
the woman shaking her baby in the air,
but also unable to see
the russet sun on a rough shelf of rock
and apples in the grass at the base of a tree.

Sometimes, he wonders about the other two
listens for the faint sound of their breathing
up there on the mantel
alongside the clock and the candlesticks.

And some nights in the quiet house
he wishes he could break the silence with a question.

but he knows the one on his right
would not be able to hear
and the one to his left
according to their sacred oath--
the one they all took with one paw raised--
is forbidden forever to speak, even in reply.

Genius, by ???
(I memorized this poem in fifth grade and I cannot remember the author for the life of me, but it's still one of my favorites. For obvious reasons.)

Newton was a genius
He sat beneath a tree
An apple fell upon his head
He said, "Wow! Gravity!"

Now Newton was a genius
And not a common slouch
A genius says, "Wow! Gravity!"
Most others just say "Ouch."

Love the Color of Trout, by Paul Zarzyski
(This was dedicated to my beloved advisor and her husband, so I have a special love for it)

Smoldering, after rain all day, the sun
sets fire to saffron yellow logs
the barn hunkers on. Coffee Creek
cuts a swath we hop across,
green to more green,
and whitetail deer, sudden
as stump mushrooms and rust red
with summer hair, browse
brisket-deep--dash of paprika
on this timothy green. We unravel
worms from roots we spade
to the surprise of light. Our fingers
chill pink, and riffles
cater our bait to trout,
to that hearty tug we hunger for
as love: boy and girl in mint
Montana green, willow
Indian stringer of rainbow
swinging in cadence
as we sail the hayfield home.

Today's poems coming later (yes, poems, there were two and I just couldn't pick between them), because I want to talk about them a bit.

*Ellis Graveworthy is the penname of the inestimable Sam Starbuck.

(Post a new comment)

2009-04-20 11:53 pm UTC (link)
Puck's Epilogue

You rang?

(Reply to this)

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