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Frogs -- Norman MacCaig

Guest poem submitted by Anustup Datta
(Poem #863) Frogs
 Frogs sit more solid
 than anything sits. In mid-leap they are
 parachutists falling
 in a free fall. They die on roads
 with arms across their chests and
 heads high.

 I love frogs that sit
 like Buddha, that fall without
 parachutes, that die
 like Italian tenors.

 Above all, I love them because,
 pursued in water, they never
 panic so much that they fail
 to make stylish triangles
 with their ballet dancer's
-- Norman MacCaig
Absolutely delightful. I think the comparison with Italian tenors is
especially perfect - it makes you really sit up and chuckle.


[Links etc.]

MacCaig poems on the Minstrels:
Poem #755, Gone are the days
Poem #699, Incident

There's more about MacCaig online at
[broken link]
This site also has a fair collection of his poetry.

Random irrelevancies:
Poem #544, Toads -- Philip Larkin
Poem #799, Mr Toad -- Kenneth Grahame

38 comments: ( or Leave a comment )

Swannie Karen K said...

Great imagery. This poem goes down well with all age levels.

Every year I include it when teaching poetry. Sometimes I present it as
a close exercise- leaving out some words and the students fill in with
something meaningful- and we then share the different versions and
finally the poet's version. Always works.


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He became a free verse poet with the publication of Surroundings in 1966. Seamus Heaney has said his work 'is an ongoing education in the marvelous possibilities of lyric poetry.' Whilst Ted Hughes wrote, 'whenever I meet his poems, I'm always struck by their undated freshness, everything about them is alive, as new and essential, as ever.'

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Anonymous said...

I like this poem it is very good!!!

Anonymous said...

could someone please explain the poem to me? what does it mean when the poet compare frogs to parachutists falling and die like italian tenors?

hilola said...

Hi there! I searched all about Italian tenors and still it is not clear to me why are dying frogs are compared to italian frogs? Any explanation????

mcs. said...

@ Hilola: I read it as linking with the image of: "They die on roads
with arms across their chests and
heads high."

When an opera singer dies on stage, as a generalistion the event could be described as ostentatiously dramatic and accompanied with stylised gesture. I believe MacCaig is alluding to this as well as associating the image with the common romanticised stereotypes surrounding Italian culture - drama, vivacity, artistic expression.

mcs. said...


And I forgot to say, this has long been one of my favourite poems. Thanks for posting it!

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