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Sunday, 19 July 2009

At Life


.


File:Barnum & Bailey clowns and geese2.jpg



...I am no good, nor, I have to allow,

Are many others so much better at it

That I might learn to be good from them.

And besides it’s too late now for the blind

Clown to take up the scholar’s hornbook

As he pedals off the unobserved cliff.

“I’ve worn the dress in this role long enough,”

Says the speech balloon that suspends him,

“To know how to catch the wind in it

And on this billowing chute to float me down

Gently to touch the fathomless drink

Upon which the dying sun breathes its meanings,

Shadows born yesterday to die tomorrow –- ”

The ice shelf collapsed, the dust cloud swiftly coming.



File:Tastes funny.jpg





Barnum & Bailey circus poster: chromolithograph by Strobridge Litho Co., Cincinnati & New York, 1900
"Tastes funny...":cartoon of dead clown in the desert: Gaspirtz, 2008

11 comments:

Elmo St. Rose said...

"life's a bitch and then you die"
the common folks say,
"dust to dust" the religious folks
say,
"the clown has a frown" the vultures say,
"get your ticket at the station"
the salesmen say,
"the greatest show on earth" those
who wish to amaze say,
"ride it like you find it" or
"ride it like you like it"
the poets say.

David Grove said...

At first I thought this was just delightfully nutty, like "Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite," the circus-poster-inspired Beatles song. But there's method in the madness. For me, "Shadows born yesterday to die tomorrow" conjures up black butterflies. (Mourning cloaks? I'm no lepidopterist.) Butterfly (psyche or soul), shadow, the mysteriousness of shadowiness, "the fathomless drink": all feminine. A feminine clown (he's wearing a dress) floats down to these feminine things while the sun (masculinity, rational clarity, etc.) is "dying." Does the poem suggest a connection between being bad at life and the anima gaining hegemony over the animus, i.e. being creative? I think of something Roethke said or wrote: "I want to be a bigger failure in life so that I can write better poems." (That's probably not verbatim.)

Lucy in the Sky said...

Our life is the greatest gift we will ever get. It is up to us to make the most of it. It is never too late.
Like Jonathan Swift said, "May you live all the days of your life".
And The Beatles would add "challenge the world!"

Dale said...

A "dust cloud" from the Sahara this week passed through Central Texas, where a 23-month drought continues, wilting the Chinaberries and primrose jasmine, along with even heartier, native shrubs. Anyway, if there was ever a moment when blind clowns toyed with "the scholar's hornbook" it's now. If the clown could see, she'd see the word "yikes" written bold on the page, as the "ice shelf collapsed."

human being said...

clowns when in love are teachers and see well no matter how blind they are!

clowns who cannot love are murderers... killing minds...and emptying hearts...

this one here is in love... because he pedals off the unobserved cliff..

and his fall reminds me of Icarus's fall into the sea...

TC said...

Elmo,

Strangely enough, it sounds as though everybody's got it at least partly tight, except the common folks and the vultures, who've got it completely right.

David,

'"Does the poem suggest a connection between being bad at life and the anima gaining hegemony over the animus, i.e. being creative? I think of something Roethke said or wrote: 'I want to be a bigger failure in life so that I can write better poems.'" One fears this may be horribly apropos,

Lucy,

That must be the most positive thing Jonathon Swift ever said. And truer words were never, etc. Every day the Last Chance Saloon opens its doors again.

Dale,

My anima constantly shrieks "yikes!" inwardly but it's a bit like pissing in the wind, as the dust cloud looms.

human being,

"clowns when in love are teachers and see well no matter how blind they are!"-- too true, said Professor Clown, bumping into the door of the beloved.

"this one here is in love... because he pedals off the unobserved cliff..."

I can't tell if this means that no one is observing the clown, or that the clown is failing to observe the cliff.. but either way he is surely in love, probably with you for glimpsing these truths. (Not many people take the time to see clowns seriously.)

David Grove said...

Yes, Tom, what I wrote is somewhat hair-raising, and often I fear that my commentary on a poem is widdershins to the poet's intent--more revelatory of my preoccupations and hang-ups than of the poem under consideration. But honestly, I was trying to elucidate the poem--not for you, of course, but for myself and for anyone interested in an alternative rorschach response--and leave myself out of it. If it seems that I've used your poem for my own ends, I apologize. I was just having a good time trying to suss the little verbal gadget out!

TC said...

David,

No problem, it was a swell comment, and (perhaps all too!) perceptive.

I have this curious habit of pulling my own leg in my poems. It's a clown trick reserved for the late hours when the tent poles are coming down...

human being said...

Tom...
surely the clown does observe the cliff... but he's daring
and
others do observe the clown... but just some of them are not caring...
:D

clowns had and still have a very important role in my life... and are present in my works:

The Real King

I'm not a thief!

The Burnt-Hearted Dragon



(sorry i have not translated that story completely... i will do in future...)

TC said...

Three things I learned tonight from human being

1.The real King is the Clown not Lear.

2.Teachers are clowns in love.

3.It was when the circus arrived in their small town that they found out Mrs. Horse's child was different from other children...
the clowns were jesting and joking.

(...to keep from crying, maybe?)

human being said...

:)
and also to keep others from crying...
they are in love, as you know... they care much...

and the things i learn from you are numerous, dear new teacher...