Saturday, March 21, 2009

World Poetry Day

Today is World Poetry Day. Poetry may be my least favorite of the arts. What can I say? I'm an uncultured slob. I do like some kinds of poetry, though, including some of Shel Silverstein's work, nursery rhymes and limericks and such. UNESCO obviously has a more exalted form of poetry in mind when they write:
Although we have just concluded the celebrations of the sixtieth anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, let us ensure that this Day will also attest to the universal aspiration to a world reconciled around the values of freedom and diversity.
They probably didn't mean Harry Graham's "Little Willie" poems like this one:
Little Willie
Pair of Skates
Hole in the Ice
Golden Gates

which inspired my own high-school composition
Willie, who had naught to lose,
Threw away his brand new shoes.
Mother, who was not all sweet,
Nailed his next ones to his feet.

This poem is one of my personal favorites:

Who ran away from his Nurse and was eaten by a Lion
by Hilaire Belloc

There was a Boy whose name was Jim;
His Friends were very good to him.
They gave him Tea, and Cakes, and Jam,
And slices of delicious Ham,
And Chocolate with pink inside
And little Tricycles to ride,
And read him Stories through and through,
And even took him to the Zoo-
But there it was the dreadful Fate
Befell him, which I now relate.

You know--or at least you ought to know,
For I have often told you so-
That Children never are allowed
To leave their Nurses in a Crowd;
Now this was Jim's especial Foible,
He ran away when he was able,
And on this inauspicious day
He slipped his hand and ran away!

He hadn't gone a yard when-Bang!
With open Jaws, a lion sprang,
And hungrily began to eat
The Boy: beginning at his feet.
Now, just imagine how it feels
When first your toes and then your heels,
And then by gradual degrees,
Your shins and ankles, calves and knees,
Are slowly eaten, bit by bit.
No wonder Jim detested it!
No wonder that he shouted "Hi!"

The Honest Keeper heard his cry,
Though very fat he almost ran
To help the little gentleman.
"Ponto!" he ordered as he came
(For Ponto was the Lion's name),
"Ponto!" he cried, with angry Frown,
"Let go, Sir! Down, Sir! Put it down!"
The Lion made a sudden stop,
He let the Dainty Morsel drop,
And slunk reluctant to his Cage,
Snarling with Disappointed Rage.
But when he bent him over Jim,
The Honest Keeper's Eyes were dim.
The Lion having reached his Head,
The Miserable Boy was dead!

When Nurse informed his Parents, they
Were more Concerned than I can say:-
His Mother, as She dried her eyes,
Said, "Well-it gives me no surprise,
He would not do as he was told!"
His Father, who was self-controlled,
Bade all the children round attend
To James's miserable end,
And always keep a-hold of Nurse
For fear of finding something worse.

No comments:

Post a Comment