(Poem #1483) An Infinite Number of Monkeys
After all the Shakespeare, the book of poems they type is the saddest in history. But before they can finish it, they have to wait for that Someone who is always looking to look away. Only then can they strike the million keys that spell humiliation and grief, which are the great subjects of Monkey Literature and not, as some people still believe, the banana and the tire.
1997 A wonderfully quirky little poem, with a dash of pathos thrown in. For those of you unfamiliar with the infinite monkeys meme, it runs thus: "If an infinite number of monkeys randomly hit the keys of an infinite number of typewriters, would they eventually produce the complete works of Shakespeare?" The idea that the monkeys are just waiting for the "Someone who is always looking" to turn away for an instant, so that they can produce their masterpiece, harmonises nicely with the theme, harking back to childhood fantasies of toys that came to life the minute everyone was asleep. In fact, the poem is very reminiscent of Billy Collins, with its reflections on art, poetry and the interaction between the creator and the audience, and it's wonderful "what if" suspension of disbelief, a sort of magic unrealism that draws the reader in and invites him to participate in the process. And who knows - maybe humiliation and grief really *are* the great subjects of Monkey Literature. martin