Monday, February 21, 2005

Still Life

Since some people have been disparaging, or poking fun at, poems in which the speaker discovers a dead animal, I thought I'd post this example of how vibrant and alive the nature morte can be. I'm not sure that it's all that useful to make categorical claims about common subjects and/or symbols. Two centuries after Blake declared the rose diseased and moribund, along comes Gertrude Stein to give it new legs. In fact, the high volume of traffic through these areas might make them more interesting in the hands of a talented poet:

from "Three Parts"

A gorgeous dead bird on its back, eyes
still open in front of the school-room door:
shiny black and small claws
curled, as if with purpose.

Some of the rest of the pauses that day
were not to be overlooked, much less made up for
or avoided. Little by little
we learned not to touch every tiny thing

our shrinking hands still attract.
That was what eyes are for,
though the head lives largely underground.

P.S. And yes, here in the sort-of country occasionally living and non-urban-like things do cross in front of my window, but that doesn't mean I have to talk about the indissoluble unity of the natural world or anything.

No comments: