Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Poetry month celebration

A few days ago, Green Girl in Wisconsin reminded us that April is poetry month.  O frabjous day!  Check out the Pablo Neruda poems she posted.

I don’t know a whole lot about poetry, but I do have some favorites.  I usually say my very favorite poem is The Lake Isle of Innisfree by W. B. Yeats, but around here, the most commonly referenced poem is this one:

            This Is Just to Say

I have eaten
the plums
that were in
the icebox

and which
you were probably
for breakfast

Forgive me
they were delicious
so sweet
and so cold

            William Carlos Williams

I first found this poem in my Norton Anthology of Poetry, a book I have only because I was fortunate enough to hang around with a bunch of English majors in college. When I was young and sincere and trying to learn guitar, I put these words to a tune.  It was an earnest and spare song with harmony consisting of the four chords I had learned to play on the guitar. The world is lucky that I can’t find it and that I gave up trying to play guitar.

Now that I am older, this poem annoys me with its lack of punctuation.  Perhaps it just balances out my overuse of punctuation.  Nevertheless, I do feel the poem is complete.  It reminds me of my son’s English teachers who would always respond to his spare prose on a written assignment with “I need more.”   Why?  Son answered your question (in full sentences, with punctuation!).   i wonder if Billy Carlos Williams' teachers would have asked for more verbiage.

The Common Household finds no earnestness, but rather, high spoofability, in this poem, especially when I am always unwittingly saying, “Who ate the ____ that I was saving for dinner?!” 

Here’s a variation written by Oldest Daughter when she was 12:

Yesterday, I broke the piano that you had been saving to teach with.
I’m sorry, but I was practicing karate.
I’d regret it, but it was the perfect target.

And I offer you this:

                        I have spoofed
The poem
Which was in my
Norton Anthology of Poetry

And which
You were probably
For English class

Forgive me
It was so,

It is probably wrong of me to post this on Shakespeare’s birthday, but this is just proof that April is, in fact, the cruelest month.  

Do you have a favorite poem?  A favorite Earth Day Cake?

It was Earth Day yesterday.  Here is Youngest Daughter's
Earth Day Cake.  It has nothing to do with this post.


Doug Balcom said...

I often run across "favorite" poems, only to eventually forget them and run across others. Some of these are posted on FB by my younger brother, who has been writing & reciting his own peculiarly witty poetry for years.

Here's one of his from last August that I like:

Though the billionaires
Had found a technicality,
A loop-hole, & (so cleverly)
Had made it into heaven...

Their self congratulation
Was abruptly cut short,
By the millions of souls,
There, they'd oppressed.

"You did not believe, when
I advised that you'd be happier
In hell." said their counsel, as
He headed back down stairs.

Cassi Renee said...

I always enjoyed that poem. When I was grade-school age, my parents gave me a wonderfully illustrated book of poems for children, and that one was in it. The book also has some fragments in it, for instance a few lines from Shakespeare, that end: "But doth suffer a sea-change
Into something rich and strange." My father quoted that when he wrote in the fly-leaf.

Also: "When I am dead, I hope it may be said: His sins were scarlet, but his books were read." And some poem about getting a single red rose, rather than a single Mercedes. Really, I discovered some wonderful poetry in that book, and I still have the book and read aloud from it to Emma. That, and my father reading T.S.Elliot's Practical Cats out loud are my best memories of poetry. Now I need to go read some poetry aloud!

Common Household Mom said...

@Doug - that's a great poem! It reminds me of parts of Revelation. I love that last great jab at the end.

@Cassi - my father also read 'Practical Cats' out loud. Great fun and good memories.

Alison said...

I did my "junior Theme" (30 page writing assignment in high school) on Practical Cats! We had a record (remember those? of T.S. ELIOT READING THEM!!!!

Not poetry, but I particularly love all the epithets hurled about in Shakespeare's Richard III.

I also remember seeing (in a book of poems) some very odd tombstones. LIke this one:

Here lies Jonathan Pound
Who was lost at sea
And never found.

Green Girl in Wisconsin said...

Like you, I prefer the spare poems, too. I'd forgotten that one--and I like your daughter's version just as much!