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The Insect God -- Edward Gorey

Guest poem submitted by Natalie Gray, in response to
Hilaire Belloc's "Jim" (Minstrels poem #809):

Your poem reminded me of one of my favorite poets/authors/artists, Edward
Gorey. I'm submitting this poem from him. Although not my favorite (The
Gashlycrumb Tinies is), it certainly is a lovely piece!
(Poem #811) The Insect God
 O what has become of Millicent Frastley?
 Is there any hope that she's still alive?
 Why haven't they found her? It's rather ghastly
 To think that the child was not yet five.

 The dear little thing was last seen playing
 Along by herself at the edge of the park;
 There was no one with her to keep her from straying
 Away in the shadows and oncoming dark.

 Before she could do so, a silent and glittering
 Black motor drew up where she sat nibbling grass;
 From within came a nearly inaudible twittering,
 A tiny green face peered out through the glass.

 She was ready to flee, when the figure beckoned;
 An arm with two elbows held out a tin
 Full of cinnamon balls; she paused; a second
 Reached out as she took one, and lifted her in.

 The nurse was discovered collapsed in some shrubbery,
 But her reappearance was not much use;
 Her eyes were askew, he extremities rubbery,
 Her clothing was stained with a brownish juice.

 She was questioned in hopes of her answers revealing
 What had happened; she merely repeatedly said
 'I hear them walking about on the ceiling'.
 She had gone irretrievably out of her head.

 O feelings of horror, resentment, and pity
 For things, which so seldom turn out for the best;
 The car, unobserved, sped away from the city
 As the last of the light died out in the west.

 The Frastleys grew sick with apprehension,
 Which a heavy tea only served to increase;
 Though they felt it was scarcely genteel to mention
 The loss of their child, they called in the police.

 Through unvisited hamlets the car went creeping,
 With its head lamps unlit and its curtains drawn;
 Those natives who happened not to be sleeping
 Heard it pass, and lay awake until dawn.

 The police with their torches and notebooks descended
 On the haunts of the underworld, looking for clues;
 In spite of their praiseworthy efforts, they ended
 With nothing at all in the way of news.

 The car, after hours and hours of travel,
 Arrived at a gate in an endless wall;
 It rolled up a drive and stopped on the gravel
 At the foot of a vast and crumbling hall.

 As the night wore away, hope started to languish
 And soon was replaced by all manner of fears;
 The family twisted their fingers in anguish,
 Or got them all damp from the flow of their tears.

 They removed the child to the ball-room, whose hangings
 And mirrors were streaked with a luminous slime;
 They leapt through the air with buzzings and twangings
 To work themselves up to a ritual crime.

 They stunned her, and stripped off her garments, and lastly
 They stuffed her inside a kind of a pod;
 And then it was that Millicent Frastley
 Was sacrificed to The Insect God.
-- Edward Gorey
Gorey has such a nice way of painting pictures with his words. The first
time I ever read a Gorey poem, I was both horrified and fascinated. I
normally eschew horror of any kind, yet I am inextricably drawn to Gorey's
stuff.  I won't attempt a critical analysis. Suffice it to say the words
fall trippingly off the tongue and paint quite a lurid picture. May we all
be saved from sacrifice to The Insect God.

For more about Gorey, the sites below have great info:
http://www.goreyography.com/west/west.htm
[broken link] http://www.geocities.com/SoHo/Gallery/9167/GOREY_ARTICLE.HTM

Natalie.

[Minstrels Links]

Other cautionary poems:
Poem #463, Disobedience  -- A. A. Milne
Poem #809, Jim -- Hilaire Belloc
Poem #564, Warning to Children -- Robert Graves

Strange and (occasionally) grisly tales:
Poem #692, The Messenger -- H. P. Lovecraft
Poem #259, Songs from an Evil Wood  -- Lord Dunsany
Poem #252, The Midnightmouse  -- Christian Morgenstern
Poem #424, The Moonsheep  -- Christian Morgenstern
Poem #215, The Loch Ness Monster's Song  -- Edwin Morgan
Poem #304, The Subway Piranhas  -- Edwin Morgan
Poem #631, Mean Mr Mustard / Polythene Pam -- John Lennon
Poem #358, Abdul Abulbul Amir  -- Percy French

38 comments: ( or Leave a comment )

Ken and Noelle Hay said...

This one was "cool" It was kinda odd, like Edgar Allen Poe meets the Far Side. I loved it!

Anonymous said...

Chilling. Absolutely chilling. Fantastic poem!

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