<body><script type="text/javascript"> function setAttributeOnload(object, attribute, val) { if(window.addEventListener) { window.addEventListener('load', function(){ object[attribute] = val; }, false); } else { window.attachEvent('onload', function(){ object[attribute] = val; }); } } </script> <div id="navbar-iframe-container"></div> <script type="text/javascript" src="https://apis.google.com/js/plusone.js"></script> <script type="text/javascript"> gapi.load("gapi.iframes:gapi.iframes.style.bubble", function() { if (gapi.iframes && gapi.iframes.getContext) { gapi.iframes.getContext().openChild({ url: 'https://www.blogger.com/navbar.g?targetBlogID\x3d11307560\x26blogName\x3dTradeWind+Travels:+Life+on+the+17%C2%B0+Pa...\x26publishMode\x3dPUBLISH_MODE_BLOGSPOT\x26navbarType\x3dBLUE\x26layoutType\x3dCLASSIC\x26searchRoot\x3dhttp://gogoshire.blogspot.com/search\x26blogLocale\x3den_GB\x26v\x3d2\x26homepageUrl\x3dhttp://gogoshire.blogspot.com/\x26vt\x3d245113127206344438', where: document.getElementById("navbar-iframe-container"), id: "navbar-iframe" }); } }); </script>
blogbannernevis

17 April 2005

A Moment for Poetry

April is National Poetry Month, and the English department has been sponsoring a series of poetry readings. Last week at one of the readings, I read a poem by one of my all-time favorite poets, Edward Lear, called "The Jumblies." Lear was known as the nonsense poet. Read this and understand why:


The Jumblies
I
They went to sea in a Sieve, they did,
  In a Sieve they went to sea:
In spite of all their friends could say,
On a winter's morn, on a stormy day,
  In a Sieve they went to sea!
And when the Sieve turned round and round,
And every one cried, 'You'll all be drowned!'
They called aloud, 'Our Sieve ain't big,
But we don't care a button! we don't care a fig!
  In a Sieve we'll go to sea!'
      Far and few, far and few,
            Are the lands where the Jumblies live;
      Their heads are green, and their hands are blue,
            And they went to sea in a Sieve.


II
They sailed away in a Sieve, they did,
In a Sieve they sailed so fast,
  With only a beautiful pea-green veil
Tied with a riband by way of a sail,
  To a small tobacco-pipe mast;
And every one said, who saw them go,
'O won't they be soon upset, you know!
For the sky is dark, and the voyage is long,
And happen what may, it's extremely wrong
  In a Sieve to sail so fast!'
      Far and few, far and few,
            Are the lands where the Jumblies live;
      Their heads are green, and their hands are blue,
            And they went to sea in a Sieve.

III
The water it soon came in, it did,
  The water it soon came in;
So to keep them dry, they wrapped their feet
In a pinky paper all folded neat,
  And they fastened it down with a pin.
And they passed the night in a crockery-jar,
And each of them said, 'How wise we are!
Though the sky be dark, and the voyage be long,
Yet we never can think we were rash or wrong,
  While round in our Sieve we spin!'
      Far and few, far and few,
            Are the lands where the Jumblies live;
      Their heads are green, and their hands are blue,
            And they went to sea in a Sieve.

IV
And all night long they sailed away;
  And when the sun went down,
They whistled and warbled a moony song
To the echoing sound of a coppery gong,
  In the shade of the mountains brown.
'O Timballo! How happy we are,
When we live in a Sieve and a crockery-jar,
And all night long in the moonlight pale,
We sail away with a pea-green sail,
  In the shade of the mountains brown!'
      Far and few, far and few,
            Are the lands where the Jumblies live;
      Their heads are green, and their hands are blue,
            And they went to sea in a Sieve.

V
They sailed to the Western Sea, they did,
  To a land all covered with trees,
And they bought an Owl, and a useful Cart,
And a pound of Rice, and a Cranberry Tart,
  And a hive of silvery Bees.
And they bought a Pig, and some green Jack-daws,
And a lovely Monkey with lollipop paws,
And forty bottles of Ring-Bo-Ree,
  And no end of Stilton Cheese.
      Far and few, far and few,
            Are the lands where the Jumblies live;
      Their heads are green, and their hands are blue,
            And they went to sea in a Sieve.

VI
And in twenty years they all came back,
  In twenty years or more,
And every one said, 'How tall they've grown!
For they've been to the Lakes, and the Torrible Zone,
  And the hills of the Chankly Bore!'
And they drank their health, and gave them a feast
Of dumplings made of beautiful yeast;
And every one said, 'If we only live,
We too will go to sea in a Sieve,---
  To the hills of the Chankly Bore!'
      Far and few, far and few,
            Are the lands where the Jumblies live;
      Their heads are green, and their hands are blue,
            And they went to sea in a Sieve.


I've been trying to get R to do illustrations of this poem for the last 2 years to no avail, but because I recently memorized this poem and have been reciting it repeatedly, R has been doing what I call the Iambic Tetrameter Jig, partly mocking and partly infected by the inherent sing-song rhythm. Overall, a jig in lieu of an illustration is a fair deal, no?

National Poetry Month is a good thing. My heart sings and soars when I hear certain poems. Here's another favorite of mine by Gary Snyder, who allows this poem to be "reproduced free forever." After reading this poem, I find myself grinning from ear to ear; it's as if my chest has been cracked, my heart center exposed. One summer when teaching Poetry and Performance to a group of kids at the UAF Summer Fine Arts Camp, my students decided they wanted to read Beat poetry. They picked this poem and did group guerilla readings around campus.


Smokey the Bear Sutra

Once in the Jurassic about 150 million years ago,
the Great Sun Buddha in this corner of the Infinite
Void gave a Discourse to all the assembled elements
and energies: to the standing beings, the walking beings,
the flying beings, and the sitting beings -- even grasses,
to the number of thirteen billion, each one born from a
seed, assembled there: a Discourse concerning
Enlightenment on the planet Earth.

"In some future time, there will be a continent called
America. It will have great centers of power called
such as Pyramid Lake, Walden Pond, Mt. Rainier, Big Sur,
Everglades, and so forth; and powerful nerves and channels
such as Columbia River, Mississippi River, and Grand Canyon
The human race in that era will get into troubles all over
its head, and practically wreck everything in spite of
its own strong intelligent Buddha-nature."

"The twisting strata of the great mountains and the pulsings
of volcanoes are my love burning deep in the earth.
My obstinate compassion is schist and basalt and
granite, to be mountains, to bring down the rain. In that
future American Era I shall enter a new form; to cure
the world of loveless knowledge that seeks with blind hunger:
and mindless rage eating food that will not fill it."

And he showed himself in his true form of

SMOKEY THE BEAR

  • A handsome smokey-colored brown bear standing on his hind legs, showing that he is aroused and watchful.

  • Bearing in his right paw the Shovel that digs to the truth beneath appearances; cuts the roots of useless attachments, and flings damp sand on the fires of greed and war;

  • His left paw in the Mudra of Comradely Display -- indicating that all creatures have the full right to live to their limits and that deer, rabbits, chipmunks, snakes, dandelions, and lizards all grow in the realm of the Dharma;

  • Wearing the blue work overalls symbolic of slaves and laborers, the countless men oppressed by a civilization that claims to save but often destroys;

  • Wearing the broad-brimmed hat of the West, symbolic of the forces that guard the Wilderness, which is the Natural state of the Dharma and the True Path of man on earth: all true paths lead through mountains --

  • With a halo of smoke and flame behind, the forest fires of the kali-yuga, fires caused by the stupidity of those who think things can be gained and lost whereas in truth all is contained vast and free in the Blue Sky and Green Earth of One Mind;

  • Round-bellied to show his kind nature and that the great earth has food enough for everyone who loves her and trusts her;

  • Trampling underfoot wasteful freeways and needless suburbs; smashing the worms of capitalism and totalitarianism;

  • Indicating the Task: his followers, becoming free of cars, houses, canned foods, universities, and shoes; master the Three Mysteries of their own Body, Speech, and Mind; and fearlessly chop down the rotten trees and prune out the sick limbs of this country America and then burn the leftover trash.

    Wrathful but Calm. Austere but Comic. Smokey the Bear will Illuminate those who would help him; but for those who would hinder or slander him,

    HE WILL PUT THEM OUT.

    Thus his great Mantra:

    Namah samanta vajranam chanda maharoshana Sphataya hum traka ham nam

    "I DEDICATE MYSELF TO THE UNIVERSAL DIAMOND BE THIS RAGING FURY DESTROYED"

    And he will protect those who love woods and rivers,
    Gods and animals, hobos and madmen, prisoners and sick
    people, musicians, playful women, and hopeful children:

    And if anyone is threatened by advertising, air pollution, television,
    or the police, they should chant SMOKEY THE BEAR'S WAR SPELL:

    DROWN THEIR BUTTS
    CRUSH THEIR BUTTS
    DROWN THEIR BUTTS
    CRUSH THEIR BUTTS

    And SMOKEY THE BEAR will surely appear to put the enemy out
    with his vajra-shovel.

  • Now those who recite this Sutra and then try to put it in practice will accumulate merit as countless as the sands of Arizona and Nevada.

  • Will help save the planet Earth from total oil slick.

  • Will enter the age of harmony of man and nature.

  • Will win the tender love and caresses of men, women, and beasts.

  • Will always have ripe blackberries to eat and a sunny spot under a pine tree to sit at.

    AND IN THE END WILL WIN HIGHEST PERFECT ENLIGHTENMENT.

    thus have we heard.


    Please share your favorites in the comment section!
  • 0 Comments:

    Post a Comment

    << Home