Thursday, July 13, 2006

Puppet Play     cont'd     [narrative poem]

PART TWO: An Argument with Puppets


Now my puppets (sweet dolls) came like hounds to the hunt
      when the scent of the fox is discerned
here they called for a homer! I wanted to bunt!
      how pelagic the argument churned

Once they'd heard that the tale of the Original Chicken
      wert one I'd decline to declaim
their desire for that news   like a Lazarus who'd quickened
      sprang up and began to complain

Any story I'd offer forthwith they rejected
      how choosy they suddenly proved!
although Romeo & Juliet I'd nearly perfected
      they ordered it done and removed!

"Prithee why does this need for the narratives of chickens
      all suddenly nest in your brains?"
but replied Clytemnestra   "indeed by the dickens
      I wot not   and yet it remains!"


The Original Chicken's a tale invented
      by a Sage of the Orient recent
its theme is tremendous   like a theatre full-rented
      its income of meaning quite decent

O nix that last trope!   there I write like a dope
      the Original Chicken outflies
Such merchantilish simile   that tumbled out timidly
      it inhabits far loftier skies

But what use to describe   all the excellent facets
      of a jewel that surpasses my ambit?
the hope diamond is good yes   but prithee now should this
      determine the poor shopkeeper's gambit?

I explain my position   in the face of attrition
      "fact is   I'm a busyish man
I've not recently read   what the Silent One said
      of the Chicken's original plan"


"It's chicken or bust!"   the Countessa's disgust
      grew apparent when this she exclaimed
"You're a poet we trust   now our gist and our thrust
      is the wish to hear rightly declaimed

Your own fresh condensation   of the tale of the Chicken
      recounted at leisure and length
now we're ready to listen as the plotting may thicken!
      tell the Chicken's good tale at full strength!"

O puppets are bothers!   what man with his druthers
      would march to their reasonless tune?
I'm a poet respectable!   with tales delectable!
      my job is to bellow or croon!

"I implore thee Countessa!   dispell and forebear!
      or permit ample time for review"
I descanted that message   and fell in the snare
      as a poet is wonted to do

some notes

they called for a homer: (i) Homer, the quintessential epic storyteller of antiquity; (i) "homer" is American slang for a "home run" batting of the ball, in the sport of baseball. A home run is the most astonishing and successful response to a pitch; whereas a mere bunt is a kind of polite equivocation. The latter will carry forward the team's objectives, no doubt, and in some circumstances is even strategically advisible. But it indubitably lacks the drama -- and the score-winning efficacy -- of a home run. Even casual observers of the sport cannot fail to be impressed by the sudden cheering of the crowd occasioned by a homer. And even idle literary bypassers will likely listen attentively, if a Homer should stand and recite his hoary story. (Incidentally, the poet Donal Hall, recently appointed to the august office of Poet Laureate of the United States, is said to be a major baseball fan -- a topic which even crops up in some of his poetry. My linking, here, of the two meanings of "homer" may thus be in sync with more pervasive literary blusterings of breeze.)

pelagic: of or relating to the seas or oceans: marine, maritime, oceanic, thalassic. Thus, "how pelagic the argument churned": the argument churned in an oceanic manner.


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