Subscribe: by Email | in Reader

The Common Cormorant -- Christopher Isherwood

       
(Poem #1111) The Common Cormorant
 The common cormorant (or shag)
 Lays eggs inside a paper bag,
 You follow the idea, no doubt?
 It's to keep the lightning out.

 But what these unobservant birds
 Have never thought of, is that herds
 Of wandering bears might come with buns
 And steal the bags to hold the crumbs.
-- Christopher Isherwood
What I like even more than this poem's inspired silliness is the absolutely
deadpan manner in which it is delivered. Even Silverstein's "Recipe for a
Hippopotamus Sandwich" [Poem #845], of which today's poem is strongly
reminiscent, didn't exude that tone of perfect reasonableness, that air of
merely elaborating on a well-known fact.

Is this a children's poem? It certainly works as one - children are for the
most part deeply appreciative of whimsy and topsy-turvy logic. But so are
many adults, and something about the poem makes me think that the latter
were Isherwood's intended audience, though I can't quite pin it down.

martin

Links:

  I found today's poem at http://www.newtrix.com/poems/ci-corm.htm which
  has a biography and a photo of Isherwood.

60 comments: ( or Leave a comment )

Colin.Blowers said...

I was surprised to see this poem attributed to Christopher Isherwood. I've
always understood it to be by that most prolific writer, Anon.

It certainly is in 'Verse and Worse', edited by Arnold Silcock, (1963) and
goes like this:-

The common cormorant or shag
Lays eggs inside a paper bag,
The reason you will see no doubt -
It is to keep the lightning out.
But what these unobservant birds
Have never noticed is that herds
Of wandering bears may come with buns
And steal the bags to hold the crumbs.

Not a lot of difference, I agree, but at least the fourth line scans
properly.

Regards

Colin Blowers
UAT Tester

The Exchange
Munro House
Portsmouth Road
COBHAM
Surrey
KT11 1TE

Joanna Watson said...

Martin,

This is indeed a delightful poem. I learned it as a child of eight in 1962, so am surprised to see this attributed to Christopher Isherwood 1982. One of my sisters was asking for a copy of it yesterday, so I thought I'd check the punctuation before writing it out for her. I've arrived at your webpage via Google. I think that you got some of the words wrong; you have introduced some paraphrases. From my recollection, the words of the poem are as follows (I don't remember the punctuation):

The common cormorant or shag
Lays eggs inside a paper bag.
The reason you will see, no doubt,
It is to keep the lightning out.
But what these unobservant birds
Have never noticed is that herds
Of wandering bears may come with buns
And steal the bags to hold the crumbs.

Do you have access to an original source so that you can check this? If so, can you help me with the punctuation.

Best wishes,
Joanna Watson

Steve said...

I encountered this poem in a book of children's nonsense rhymes purchased for our children back in the '80s. Unfortunately, the book has disappeared but my recollection is a tad different than the versions so far presented.

The common cormorant (or shag)
Lays eggs inside a paper bag
The reason you will see, no doubt
It is to keep the lightning out!

But what these unobservant birds
Have failed to notice is
That herds of wandering bears may come, with buns
And steal the bags to hold the crumbs

This book, along with Shel Silverstein's "Where the Sidewalk Ends" were among my sons' favourites, and, of course, mine!
regards
Steve Adams
Gravenhurst, Ontario, Canada

Diana Wainman said...

I have been told recently that it is generally acknowledged to be the work of WH Auden - but I haven't been able to verify it.

Diana.

Barbara said...

Rehov Hankin 2/7
Rehovot
Israel, 76354

I am now 68 years old, and learnt this wonderful poem when I was about 8 years old whilst attending City of London Girls School in London England.
Last night I awoke and repeated this poem to myself, but could not for the life of me remember what was being kept out by the bag being kept upside down!!!!!

Thank you so much, and thank God for being alive at this wonderful time of computers etc.

Barbara Pfeffer

Rod Bell said...

The Oxford Dictionary of quotations attributes this poem to Isherwood (b.1904, d.1986) and states it was written about 1925.

Alexa Wightman said...

The common cormorant or shag is a poem my brother and I were taught as children in the early 1950s. Though the words were slightly different the whole concept was the same. I met another person recently who had known it for a long time so unless Christopher Isherwood had penned it in the 50s I suspect name of the poet is still unknown.

The common cormorant or shag
lays eggs inside a paper bag.
The reason you may see no doubt
is to keep the lightning out.etc

in the second verse there is no might come about it it was will come ! Now that is a rather frightening thought!

I look forward to hearing about any other person of a certain age who have this poem in their family repertoire!

Mary Wightman

Anonymous said...

I learn t this poem in the mid sixties whilst in primary school.

generic viagra said...

I can't believe you made a blog related to poetry because that's one of my passions, I'd like to become an excellent poet but it's difficult.

Penis Enlargement said...

I am thoroughly convinced in this said post. I am currently searching for ways in which I could enhance my knowledge in this said topic you have posted here. It does help me a lot knowing that you have shared this information here freely. I love the way the people here interact and shared their opinions too. I would love to track your future posts pertaining to the said topic we are able to read.

Generic Viagra said...

I have been told recently that it is generally acknowledged to be the work of WH Auden - but I haven't been able to verify it.

Kamagra said...

I learn t this poem in the mid sixties whilst in primary school.

Anonymous said...

My father told me this verse when I was little in the 1960s. I sometimes sing it to Mozart's Jolly Birdcatcher song (Der Vogelfänger bin ich ja).

buy penis enlargement pills in Australia said...

It is a weak poetic endeavor. I hope that the next posts will include a greater poem.

Vimax penis growth pills said...

I like Christopher Isherwood and his take on life.

Duramale fix premature climax pills said...

It's a really awesome poem by Isherwood, He is a damn Genius guy, I agree to it completely.

Spermomax sperm pills review said...

a very good poetry.....liked it with heart....really looking to get more from you...:)

Cheap Viagra Online said...

I enjoyed it so much reading this poems make me relax and inspirited, for my own poems of my life

Sizegenetics penis traction device said...

all the content and the poems are really amazing.

Accountants in London said...

i truthfully enjoy your own writing kind, very remarkable,
don’t give up as well as keep writing due to the fact that it simply just worth to follow it. looking forward to see a whole lot more of your current well written articles, enjoy your day
London Chartered Accountants

Ideas de negocios said...

Thanks for taking the time to discuss this, but I am firmly convinced of this and love to learn more about the subject. If possible, acquire knowledge, would you update your blog with more information? It is very helpful to m

Ideas de negocios said...

Thanks for taking the time to discuss this, but I am firmly convinced of this and love to learn more about the subject. If possible, acquire knowledge, would you update your blog with more information? It is very helpful to me

Tenaga said...

Nice post, it's very make me so interesting to read your post.Nice work.thanks

pharmacy reviews said...

I'm gonna be honest, I don't like to read so much, but when we are talking about a poem my thoughts and ideology change radically. This poem actually was done for the enjoyment of readers.

Anonymous said...

Nike Free Run 2 new style running shoes,
Nike Free Run womens running shoes,
Nike Free Run Plus good shoes for running,
Nike lunarglide 2 running shoes,
Nike free run 3.0 for mens,
Nike free 3.0 womens shoes,
Nike Free cheap cheap running shoes for sale.

Nike Free Run Sale online store,
Nike Free Run womens running shoes,
Nike Free Run Plus running shoes
Nike lunarglide 2 running shoes
Nike free 3.0 sale
Nike free 3.0 womens


Nike Free Run Cheap shoes for sale,
Nike Free Run womens running shoes,
Nike Free Run Plus running shoes
Nike lunarglide 2 running shoes
Nike free 3.0 sale
Nike free 3.0 womens
Cheap Nike Free Run shoes for sale.

Penis Enhancement Pills said...

That's a pretty nice post, i was reading something related on another web page not too long ago that essentially said the same thing although yours is better,

fix credit said...

interesting post to be sure there always seems to be new discoveries of once understood works.

Male Sexual Enhancement said...

Nice post, it's very make me so interesting to read your post.Nice work.thanks

Anonymous said...

See Earl Wavell's Othe Men's Flowers anthology (1st pub 1944), from where I learned it 60 years ago.

fix credit said...

Increase credit score and save money. Your credit score largely determines the lenders available and the interest rate at which they will lend. Fix credit and expand the number of lenders willing to compete for your loan.

Grant said...

Does anyone remember a parody of (or follow-up to) this poem about the shrike (presumably “butcher bird or”)? It had to do with bicycle spokes, but I can't find it on the Internet.

Anonymous said...

Be attentive though, not each of the music that can be downloaded for free
on the web-based is royalty-free. The Bollywood songs can be found elaborate and
generously filmed.

Visit my web site ... szamba

Anonymous said...

The option I see it, if it can work for me, it can task
for anyone! An empathetic or maybe a curious child would probably lead of in questions.



Here is my blog :: imprezy integracyjne

Anonymous said...

So, at first select the location, where you in order to stay.
Finding vacation villas to mortgages here and holiday break apartments to your rent is a easy.


Here is my webpage; agencje ochrony

Anonymous said...

Often the coating can release fumes that has the ability to kill a racer.
Level of caffeine Grinder - Help a soft painting brush to wipe out any coffee whole
grains.

Feel free to visit my blog post ... kancelaria adwokacka łódź

Anonymous said...

A trip to Morocco further broadened her play palette. Shoppers can
have a great time attentiveness to your most wanted genre of
audio with these stations.

Here is my homepage; adwokat warszawa

Anonymous said...

The Bollywood songs are often elaborate and generously filmed.
In order in the market to license music, you may write and formulate better ones.



Check out my page ... tłumaczenia włoski Katowice

Anonymous said...

The recent real-estate boom in about Texas is
minute experiencing its bound to happen crash.


Stop by my webpage: agencja detektywistyczna warszawa

Anonymous said...

You are unable as a way to smell toxic smoke or notice an actual gas
leak to operate an effective home. There are many fixed steps that must be followed here.


my web-site - agencja detektywistyczna

Anonymous said...

Plantation tours in Kerala are ultimate trips from the eventfulness of city
whole life.

Look at my web-site agencja detektywistyczna warszawa

Anonymous said...

However there are couple of that offer high quality and at high-priced prices.


my website ... biuro detektywistyczne warszawa

Anonymous said...

Finally it target Usa market for awesome market and The eu for small globally market.


Here is my web page :: usługi detektywistyczne

Anonymous said...

Learn how very good country songs were recorded there by- legends like Elvis.
Steer clear dark or your favorite songs in minor practical
knowledge while guests are unquestionably arriving.

Also visit my site: detektyw warszawa

Anonymous said...

It will also help understand the type of cultural and personality patterns of your
current locals.

Look into my site prywatny detektyw warszawa

Anonymous said...

Payroll software is really a genie that acts a magical role in any home business house.


Feel free to surf to my web site :: prywatny detektyw

Anonymous said...

In order to aren't, step it up and join a course of study. It drives an individual toward improve the top notch of his business and become superior than others.

Also visit my homepage ... pobierowo

Anonymous said...

Is certainly also quite possible to find them as free online audio.

Most included such luminaries as the Natural Roses, the Inspiral Carpets, and
this Happy Mondays.

Here is my blog - tanie wczasy nad morzem

Anonymous said...

Many a home provides swimming pool, hot water showering and internet facility too.


my web site tanie wczasy

Anonymous said...

This is a fact that get rid of everyone knows that's about. Any low fuel consumption appliance will be able to be powered but now solar panel system.

Here is my blog :: zespół muzyczny Bydgoszcz

Anonymous said...

The Bollywood songs is elaborate and generously filmed.

They may should also learn how in order to really accompany singers and also other instrumentalist.


my web site: borelioza

Anonymous said...

Finding yourself in the independent music department has good and bad points.

The little angels are making great pop down in Nashville,
Tennessee, and purchase be a part of it!

my website :: candida

Anonymous said...

The way I see it, if it can work for me, it can career for
anyone! Right attitude is one regarding the bases from personality development of your kids.


Stop by my website :: borelioza

Anonymous said...

Greatest gripe we have risk is whenever you the right software that works.
India is considered as among the best countries for request
outsource.

My blog post: historia piwa

Anonymous said...

This is the go to be skilled at doing a specific product.
One does aren't, step it up and join a treatment program.

my web page wycieczki last minute

Anonymous said...

However, forklift traders are in fantastic demand in
plenty of business organizations. This can be a once
in a lifetime opportunity for your family.



Review my homepage :: wyjazdy na narty

Anonymous said...

Clothing is one of the best ways through that you can judge a specific.
Risky are the chemicals used to mature conventionally grown
cotton.

Review my web page :: STRONA GŁÓWNA

William Smith said...

This is such a great post, and was thinking much the same myself. BEST SEO SERVICES | TAC Casino Night | Another great update.

Post a Comment