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pity the poor spiders -- Don Marquis

We've not had one of these in a while...
(Poem #230) pity the poor spiders
  i have just been reading
  an advertisement of a certain
  roach exterminator
  the human race little knows
  all the sadness it
  causes in the insect world
  i remember some weeks ago
  meeting a middle aged spider
  she was weeping
  what is the trouble i asked
  her it is these cursed
  fly swatters she replied
  they kill of all the flies
  and my family and i are starving
  to death it struck me as
  so pathetic that i made
  a little song about it
  as follows to wit

  twas an elderly mother spider
  grown gaunt and fierce and gray
  with her little ones crouched beside her
  who wept as she sang this lay

  curses on these here swatters
  what kills off all the flies
  for me and my little daughters
  unless we eats we dies

  swattin and swattin and swattin
  tis little else you hear
  and we ll soon be dead and forgotten
  with the cost of living so dear

  my husband he up and left me
  lured off by a centipede
  and he says as he bereft me
  tis wrong but i ll get a feed

  and me a working and working
  scouring the streets for food
  faithful and never shirking
  doing the best i could

  curses on these here swatters
  what kills off all the flies
  me and my poor little daughters
  unless we eats we dies

  only a withered spider
  feeble and worn and old
  and this is what
  you do when you swat
  you swatters cruel and cold

  i will admit that some
  of the insects do not lead
  noble lives but is every
  man s hand to be against them
  yours for less justice
  and more charity

-- Don Marquis
  with a charming accompanying illustration at
  [broken link]

Marquis is a poet of whom I never tire - his Archy and Mehitabel poems, in
particular, are some of the most delightful pieces of poetry I have
encountered. As usual, I recommend going through the previous Archy poems in
the archive first, or at least the first one, for context.

Today's poem adds an extra twist - Archy is moved to break into song, with
results that are nothing short of hilarious. I laughed out loud several
times at the sheer audacity of the verse, and the deadly accuracy with which
he pinpoints the tone of voice.

The other striking thing about the poem is how smoothly and naturally
Marquis has introduced a second 'voice' for Archy; we, the readers, have no
problem believing that the (fictional) author of the song and the monologues
are one and the same, and that it is Archy writing in the voice of the
spider rather than Marquis doing so. And Marquis not only carries it off, he
does so with consummate ease.



Go the the archive at <[broken link];s> and sort on
Poet name; there have been several of Marquis' poems run in the past.

In particular, see poem #36 for background info and context.

37 comments: ( or Leave a comment )

Doug Vizzini said...

When Garrison Kellor read it on his noon radio show two years ago I laughed
out loud in my car.

I finally found the time to track down the poem so I could email it to my
seventeen year old daughter for her enjoyment (I hope).

I'm a rookie at poetry at 47 years old, shame on me.

Thanks for posting it!


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