The Monkey hatched a plan for National Poetry Month. He and I would pick four poets, one for each week, and record some poems by each. In years past, I have recorded a poem each day. The first year, in 2012, all of them were on YouTube. This took far more time than I had bargained for. Aside from work, nobody saw me the entire month of April that year. In 2013, I decided to mix it up and record a few on YouTube and more on SoundCloud. You can find all of the poems from both years, by searching here on this blog.
Suffice it to say, I like Micah’s plan better. It wasn’t easy selecting only four poets, but then we both like recording, so we knew we’d do more in time anyway. And there are lots of poem-a-day services available out there; we don’t need to worry that anyone is being neglected. For us this month, four is manageable, and we thought it would be fun to see which poems the other would chose. Already he’s ahead of me. You can listen to his poems by William Carlos Williams, along with a random chicken blooper, on his blog, The Monkey Prodigy. And then stick with us as we each bring you a selection of readings from three more poets before the month is out. As usual, in between, we’ll be sharing various other poetry and non-poetry paraphernalia.
“Pastoral,” first published in Others magazine in 1915, is in the public domain, so the text follows below. Two interesting side notes about “Pastoral:”
- I tried to look up “dog lime,” but came up empty handed. The closest I could find, and now I have misplaced the source, was the speculation that the man collecting dog lime was actually collecting dried dog poop (It goes white like lime) in order to use it for fertilizer. This seems as good an explanation as any to me.
- Since the sparrows are on the pavement, and the man is in the gutter, the title, “Pastoral,” implying idyllic scenes of country life, seems purposefully ironic. I’d be interested to hear your thoughts about this in the comments.
Pastoral The little sparrows Hop ingenuously About the pavement Quarreling With sharp voices Over those things That interest them. But we who are wiser Shut ourselves in On either hand And no one knows Whether we think good Or evil. Then again, The old man who goes about Gathering dog lime Walks in the gutter Without looking up And his tread Is more majestic than That of the Episcopal minister Approaching the pulpit Of a Sunday. These things Astonish me beyond words.