Monday, April 4, 2011

A Word With You by Elizabeth Bishop


April is National Poetry Month (buy a book of poetry like Erin did!!!) and this is the official poster with a fabulous line from the following, most excellent poem by Elizabeth Bishop:

A Word With You
by Elizabeth Bishop

Look out! there's that damned ape again
sit silently until he goes,
or else forgets the things he knows
(whatever they are) about us, then
we can begin to talk again.

Have you tried playing with your ring?
Sometimes that calms them down, I find.
(Bright objects hypnotize the mind.)
Get his attention on anything –
anything will do - there, try your ring.

The glitter pleases him. You see
he squints his eyes; his lip hangs loose.
You were saying? - Oh Lord, what's the use,
for now the parrot's after me
and the monkeys are awake. You see

how hard it is, you understand
this nervous strain in which we live -
Why just one luscious adjective
infuriates the whole damned band
and they're squabbling for it. I understand

some people manage better. How?
They treat the creatures without feeling.
- Throw books to stop the monkeys' squealing,
slap the ape and make him bow,
are firm, keep order, - but I don't know how.

Quick! there's the cockatoo! he heard!
(He can't bear any form of wit.)
- Please watch out that you don't get bit;
there's not a thing escapes that bird.
Be silent, - now the ape has overheard.

Source: "The Complete Poems, 1927-1979"

8 comments:

Kelly said...

I read a poem each day on my phone (Poetry Daily), but I should make more of an effort this month to read more!! I miss the Wednesday "FreeVerse" I use to participate in! I can always count on you, though, to provide me lots of good poems!

erin said...

not at all where i thought the poem was going. thought perhaps the ring was a wedding ring and the ape was man. well, it turned round, this piece, didn't it, right about one luscious adjective.

it's strange. it's kind of exciting that it is poetry month. wonder what will come of it?

and i'm relieved that the last poem was a repost. i was feeling kind of odd over it. i swore i'd read it before.

don't mind writing one bit, marion. tend your soil. play:)

xo
erin

ds said...

Oh, thank you for Miss Bishop! She knew how to handle that darned ape...

quid said...

Thank you for the monkey poem!!!!!!

It's national poetry month, and I just don't have the "stuff" to celebrate with a new poem each day. Sigh. Shoulda spent more time on poetry in the last 12 months.

But, I can enjoy yours.

Hugs.

quid

Terresa said...

Happy National Poetry, Marion! As you say, every single day is poetry day, we nearly eat it, drink it, live it, it is so much in us.

Love the poster (we're twins today, did you notice?), and Bishop always pleases.

x
Terresa

Jos said...

Humour and verse combined. Is there anything surer to lift the spirit than that? Not that I can find. Happy poetry month Marion. Many hugs from here. xx Jos

Margaret Pangert said...

How great to have a special month just to delve into poetry, write poetry, share poetry... But with you, Marion, every month is poetry month--wonderful! This poem is witty, but it ain't no joke! My sister-in-law lives this exact tiptoe life: two chimps, one spider monkey, two parrots, two tortoises, four cats... and you have to be hypersensitive to all their needs! She reads the paper early in the morning by the light of her lighter so she has some time to herself (not waking up the animals). Who has trained whom?! :) Good to know that "bright objects hypnotize the mind!"

Phoenix said...

Love this poem - so insanely smart and touching. :) I am doing what I did last year and posting a few poems each Friday in celebration of National Poetry Month - and I'll be stealing, er, borrowing your National Poetry Month poster!

Thank you for always inspiring me, for always keeping poetry alive on your blog. I'm so grateful that you love poetry as much as you do. :)