I'm posting this late because I've had no time at all to compose or even think straight. It's the last day, for me, of classes this term. I've ordered pizzas for the two classes, an Advanced Poetry class and a class called The Writer's Journal. I've fielded last minute questions about projects. I've given advice on life, love, what to read, and how to dress for graduation.
When I'm harried and losing my sense of time and direction, I often turn to Stevie Smith, the British writer. She lived from 1902 to 1971. She always either gets me out of the rut I'm in or makes me laugh at the rut I cannot escape and might as well embrace.
One of my favorites is Our Bog is Dood
Our bog is dood, our bog is dood,
They lisped in accents mild,
But when I asked them to explain
They grew a little wild.
How do you know your Bog is dood
My darling little child?
We know because we wish it so
That is enough, they cried,
And straight within each infant eye
Stood up the flame of pride,
And if you do not think it so
You shall be crucified.
Then tell me, darling little ones,
What's dood, suppose Bog is?
Just what we think, the answer came,
Just what we think it is.
They bowed their heads. Our Bog is ours
And we are wholly his.
But when they raised them up again
They had forgotten me
Each one upon each other glared
In pride and misery
For what was dood, and what their Bog
They never could agree.
Oh sweet it was to leave them then,
And sweeter not to see,
And sweetest of all to walk alone
Beside the encroaching sea,
The sea that soon should drown them all,
That never yet drowned me.
Her poems are so full of people who seem to think they're normal, or that things are normal, until they begin to talk about them. Everything's connected by commas, getting slipperier and weirder as you proceed. You'd be horrified and disgusted by the speakers if you didn't recognize at least some part of yourself.
Here's another one:
Nor We of Her to Him
He said no word of her to us
Nor we of her to him,
But oh it saddened us to see
How wan he grew and thin.
We said: She eats him day and night
And draws the blood from him,
We did not know but said we thought
This is why he grew thin.
One day we called and rang the bell,
No answer came within,
We said: She must have took him off
To the forest old and grim,
It has fell out, we said, that she
Eats him in forest grim,
And how can we help him being eaten
Up in forests grim?
It is a restless time we spend,
We have no help for him,
We walk about and go to bed,
It is no help to him.
Sometimes we shake our heads and say
It might have better been
If he had spoke to us of her
Or we of her to him.
Which makes us feel helpful, until
The silence comes again.