Thursday, November 10, 2011

Life List: Memorize & Internalize 10 Poems

I've always liked memorizing poems, and since memorizing 10 is on my life list, I figured I'd bring us on a guided tour through the ones I've already memorized, and how they've treated me through the years.

A Childish Prank from Crow (Ted Hughes)

Man's and woman's bodies lay without souls,
Dully gaping, foolishly staring, inert
On the flowers of Eden.
God pondered.

The problem was so great, it dragged him asleep. 

Crow laughed.
He bit the Worm, God's only son,
Into two writhing halves.

He stuffed into man the tail half
With the wounded end hanging out. 

He stuffed the head half headfirst into woman
And it crept in deeper and up
To peer out through her eyes
Calling it's tail-half to join up quickly, quickly
Because O it was painful. 

Man awoke being dragged across the grass.
Woman awoke to see him coming.
Neither knew what had happened. 

God went on sleeping.

Crow went on laughing. 

Crow is, in my opinion, one of the greatest books of poetry ever written.  It was the first thematic book I'd read that didn't feel trite (as themed chapbooks sometimes do), and so it made me feel that almost anything was possible (including, perhaps, a little book of astronaut history poems).  Crow was also one of my first introductions to really, really good creation of a new mythology.  It's something I went on to continue to study, the intersection between classical works and modern re-tellings, but Crow is still one of the most creative pieces I've read.  "A Childish Prank" is one of my favorite pieces from the book because I love creation-myths, and I love Adam & Eve, and the painful sexiness of it is just incredible.  It captures all my favorite aspects of Ted Hughes's poetry, from the powerful confidence and easy rhythm of his voice to the sweeping pronouncements throughout his work.

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