Blake-ish Poems

(original artwork by yours truly)
Instructional Poems for Young and Old 
(with a Practical Moral to Close Each Piece) 

Little Mouse so proudly sat

on kitchen table, plump and fat.
Mrs. Mouse, as mothers do,
said, “I should be so very blue
if Mr. Cat should find you there
and eat you, bone, skin, and hair.”
Little Mouse, against her fears
let her words go out his ears.
A pounce. A crunch. And then a fart:
Sometimes staying ain’t so smart.
*****
Mr. Cat asked, “Mrs. Mouse,
would you come into my house?”
Mrs. Mouse said, “Mr. Cat,
I am fine just where I’m at.”
“But look and see—it is quite nice.
A perfect place to raise some mice.
It’s warm and dry; you’ll live in style,
not like in your old woodpile.”
“All the same, I think I’ll pass”:
Sometimes staying saves your ass.

———————–

A word about this set of poems. I actually wrote and posted them a few months ago, but since they were not linked to any online poetry groups they had maybe a dozen readers. So while they are not spankin’ brand new, they are gently used and I feel justified in reposting. I think they fit what Victoria Slotto, host of tonight’s Meeting At the Bar over at dVerse, is looking for. Or one can sincerely hope so.

Now, as for the literary influence, I definitely had William Blake in mind when I wrote them, specifically Blake’s Songs of Innocence and of Experience. I’ve spent a lot of time with Blake, and he has undoubtedly worked an influence on my own stuff. There are superficial similarities between these poems and Blake’s, such as the title. And the original artwork. (For those not familiar, Blake is as well-known for his striking “illuminations” as he is for his poems. I have my doubts whether my drawing will enjoy the same appeal.) Couched within the sometimes (seemingly) simplistic poems contained in Songs, especially those in the Innocence section, Blake deals with some deeper issues of human existence. I like the way he views things from more than one perspective, and it is this aspect of Blake I was most trying to mimic. I also admit to poking fun at the moralistic poems geared toward children that were popular at the time.

All that aside, I’ve written what my oldest daughter calls “sad” poems the last few weeks, so it was time for some fun. But look closely–there may be a deeper message somewhere in there after all!

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35 thoughts on “Blake-ish Poems

  1. well I took the compost from the kitchen down the field to the big compost heap with the carpet on it to keep the moisture in and as I pulled it away…..out jumped a family …of mice! loved this one very much!

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  2. Even little babies, too young to speak, respond with laughter to farting noises. Four year old boys–now, they can spend an entire afternoon making farting noises without tiring of it! I've a confession to make. We never grow out of it.

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  3. I don't know how fun they were to read, but I did have fun writing them! Yeah, that bit about discernment–laying down an inflexible commandment for behavior ignores the complexities of life. Thanks Brian!

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  4. there sure is a deeper message…and you worked it out beautifully and with a light pen…really enjoyed this…also your footnote about the bridge to blake..good stuff sir

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  5. Nico, so fun and definitely perfect for the prompt. I'm so glad you reposted it. Very nice rhyme/meter, as well. Have you thought about submitting it to a child's magazine? They love anything to do with farts!

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  6. Thanks Sabio. Blake is a strange, strange character–he kind of created his own mythical world, and wrote a lot of obscure poetry that takes a lot of effort to interpret(probably one reason he is studied in university classes!). However, his Songs are quite accessible.

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  7. Thanx, Nico, I will remember that when I take a look.
    Allusion Poetry is one of my most unfavorite — it is often intensionally obscure and feigning intellectualism. When it is written for a small audience that knows the allusions, that is fine. But when put out for a large audience, it seems like random violence! 🙂

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  8. Poetry allusions–some people like 'em, some hate 'em. Often it depends on how much work the reader is willing to do, and this is something that changes with time constraints, frame of mind, etc. I read difficult poets the same way I read philosophy or religion, or even history–I take it slow, try to find where the writer is coming from, and look up any obscure or unknown references. Yeah, it takes time, and in the beginning cannot be said to be pleasurable, but the pleasure comes later–after understanding sinks in.

    It helps if a poet gives the reader endnotes for deeper understanding–Richard Wilbur often (but not always) does this. T. S. Eliot seldom gives his reader help, but I think he's worth the effort. Reading Milton requires a lot of reference back to Greek/Roman as well as Christian mythology. I also think he's worth the effort.

    Blake is another animal entirely. He did not make allusions to an existing mythology/literature–he invented his OWN mythology, so there is no other source for research but his own work. W. B. Yeats did something similar. Not everyone appreciates having to work so hard for pleasure!

    On the other hand, you have poets such as Kooser, Wendell Berry, Mary Oliver, etc. writing in a very accessible style, somehow managing to plumb great depths but in such a plain-spoken manner it appeals to a wider audience. I like the more difficult poets, but I like these poets better–in fact, it is a lofty kind of genius that can make something difficult look so easy!

    Sorry to go on about this stuff, but it really is something I enjoy!

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