Guest poem submitted by Ben Morrison, whose birthday it is today. Happy Birthday, Ben!
(Poem #999) Casabianca
Love's the boy stood on the burning deck trying to recite "The boy stood on the burning deck". Love's the son stood stammering elocution while the poor ship in flames went down. Love's the obstinate boy, the ship, even the swimming sailors, who would like a schoolroom platform, too or an excuse to stay on deck. And love's the burning boy.
This Bishop poem isn't one that typically makes it in the anthologies, but it is perhaps my favorite, and since it is love poetry week, it's entirely fitting. It's so simple: four sentences all with the same noun/verb contraction--"love's". The image of "burning" love is a cliché, but the build from the poor boy trying to talk to the ship and all the other sailors and then back to the burning boy is what makes this poem work. The lens widens from the poor boy to everything else and then, finally, back to the boy. This is the enviable boy who gets to stay on deck and burn. It's not pretty. It's sacrificial. It's about being powerless, not being able to say ("trying to recite") what you are and where you are. It's not pastoral. If you actually imagine someone burning, it's downright horrifying, but I guess that's the point. Even when reading it, the reader envies the boy and wishes that he/she too was on the deck and burning. Ben. [Minstrels Links] Elizabeth Bishop: Poem #639, One Art Poem #734, In the Waiting Room Love poetry, the week so far: Poem #997, The Passionate Shepherd to His Love -- Christopher Marlowe Poem #998, A Blade of Grass -- Brian Patten Poem #999, Casabianca -- Elizabeth Bishop