Monday, June 2, 2008

Mire-smirched, blowzy...


Now, mind you, I don't really know much about poetry, and I would not consider myself well-read in poetry.  But I've got some good collections, and when I sit down to read them, I find myself savoring the poems the way I do a plate of tiramisu and a carafe of french press from Mother's Bistro.  (If you are looking for a good poetry collection, this is a good place to start, and if you really want to dig into a strong tradition of profound Christian poetry, you need to get a copy of this.)

A friend of mine and I were talking recently about our shared experience of Mr. Hogan's English class, and we both recalled a poem that we were made to read and study, The Sow by Sylvia Plath.  The fact that both of us remember this strange poem from so long ago, especially since at the time, we couldn't possibly care less about poetry of any kind (even the venerable Jabberwocky), ought to say something for the poem itself.  Jake graciously went home and found a link to the poem online.  This is modern poetry at its truest, and all I can say before I share this not-so-lovely-but-lovely poem:  I'm pretty sure Ms. Plath is talking about something more than a smelly pig:

The Sow, by Sylvia Plath

God knows how our neighbor managed to breed
His great sow:
Whatever his shrewd secret, he kept it hid

In the same way
He kept the sow--impounded from public stare,
Prize ribbon and pig show.

But one dusk our questions commended us to a tour
Through his lantern-lit
Maze of barns to the lintel of the sunk sty door

To gape at it:
This was no rose-and-larkspurred china suckling
With a penny slot

For thrift children, nor dolt pig ripe for heckling,
About to be
Glorified for prime flesh and golden crackling

In a parsley halo;
Nor even one of the common barnyard sows,
Mire-smirched, blowzy,

Maunching thistle and knotweed on her snout-
Bloat tun of milk
On the move, hedged by a litter of feat-foot ninnies

Shrilling her hulk
To halt for a swig at the pink teats. No. This vast
Brobdingnag bulk

Of a sow lounged belly-bedded on that black
Fat-rutted eyes
Dream-filmed. What a vision of ancient hoghood

Thus wholly engross
The great grandam!--our marvel blazoned a knight,
Helmed, in cuirass,

Unhorsed and shredded in the grove of combat
By a grisly-bristled
Boar, fabulous enough to straddle that sow's heat.

But our farmer whistled,
Then, with a jocular fist thwacked the barrel nape,
And the green-copse-castled

Pig hove, letting legend like dried mud drop,
Slowly, grunt
On grunt, up in the flickering light to shape

A monument
Prodigious in gluttonies as that hog whose want
Made lean Lent

Of kitchen slops and, stomaching no constraint,
Proceeded to swill
The seven troughed seas and every earthquaking


preacherman said...

Great post yet again Jason.
Keep up the great work.
May God bless your life in ways you never thoughtt and dreamed.
I hope you have a great weekend.

Anonymous said...

Should I be bothered by the fact that I've tried to read through this several times and each time I only get about halfway through before I'm thinking about bacon? Or spareribs slow-cooked all day long? Or pulled pork sandwiches? Or refried beans made with bacon fat? Or homemade pork and beans with lean, smoked pork shoulder and lots of spice? I can't type anymore, I have to get some lunch.

Anonymous said...

Man, I gotta do something to remind myself to add my name at the bottom of those anonymous posts. Either that or remember my blogger i.d.


Anonymous said...

Great post. I have a youtube posting of me reading The Brewing of Soma by John Greenleaf Whittier. Its a wonderful poem about false worship and true worship. The last four lines of the poem became the hymn "Dear Lord and Father of Mankind." Man guesses; God blesses.

-Jason Goldtrap, author of the novel "Sarah Conrad of Eagle Creek."

preacherman said...

I hope all is going well.
You are in my thoughts and prayers often brother.
Keep up the great work you are doing in OR.